American Literature books summary

American Literature books summary

We are lucky to present you

Short Summaries of the Books

You Have to Read in the course of

the English Literature by Stulov

Thursday, April 3 2002



2. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 5


4. CATCH-22 22

5. Catcher in the Rye 31


7. Grapes of Wrath 41

8. Great Gatsby 46

9. Long Day's Journey Into the Night 49

10. Moby Dick 53

11. Scarlet Letter 63

12. Slaughterhouse Five 67

13. Sound and the Fury 73

14. Streetcar Named Desire 87


Like other national literatures, American literature was shaped by the

history of the country that produced it. For almost a century and a half,

America was merely a group of colonies scattered along the eastern seaboard

of the North American continent--colonies from which a few hardy souls

tentatively ventured westward. After a successful rebellion against the

motherland, America became the United States, a nation. By the end of the

19th century this nation extended southward to the Gulf of Mexico,

northward to the 49th parallel, and westward to the Pacific. By the end of

the 19th century, too, it had taken its place among the powers of the world-

-its fortunes so interrelated with those of other nations that inevitably

it became involved in two world wars and, following these conflicts, with

the problems of Europe and East Asia. Meanwhile, the rise of science and

industry, as well as changes in ways of thinking and feeling, wrought many

modifications in people's lives. All these factors in the development of

the United States molded the literature of the country.

The 17th century

American literature at first was naturally a colonial literature, by

authors who were Englishmen and who thought and wrote as such. John Smith,

a soldier of fortune, is credited with initiating American literature. His

chief books included A True Relation of . . . Virginia . . . (1608) and The

generall Historie of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles (1624).

Although these volumes often glorified their author, they were avowedly

written to explain colonizing opportunities to Englishmen. In time, each

colony was similarly described: Daniel Denton's Brief Description of New

York (1670), William Penn's Brief Account of the Province of Pennsylvania

(1682), and Thomas Ashe's Carolina (1682) were only a few of many works

praising America as a land of economic promise.Such writers acknowledged

British allegiance, but others stressed the differences of opinion that

spurred the colonists to leave their homeland. More important, they argued

questions of government involving the relationship between church and

state. The attitude that most authors attacked was jauntily set forth by

Nathaniel Ward of Massachusetts Bay in The Simple Cobler of Aggawam in

America (1647). Ward amusingly defended the status quo and railed at

colonists who sponsored newfangled notions. A variety of counterarguments

to such a conservative view were published. John Winthrop's Journal

(written 1630-49) told sympathetically of the attempt of Massachusetts Bay

Colony to form a theocracy--a state with God at its head and with its laws

based upon the Bible. Later defenders of the theocratic ideal were Increase

Mather and his son Cotton. William Bradford's History of Plymouth

Plantation (through 1646) showed how his pilgrim Separatists broke

completely with Anglicanism. Even more radical than Bradford was Roger

Williams, who, in a series of controversial pamphlets, advocated not only

the separation of church and state but also the vesting of power in the

people and the tolerance of different religious beliefs.The utilitarian

writings of the 17th century included biographies, treatises, accounts of

voyages, and sermons. There were few achievements in drama or fiction,

since there was a widespread prejudice against these forms. Bad but popular

poetry appeared in the Bay Psalm Book of 1640 and in Michael Wigglesworth's

summary in doggerel verse of Calvinistic belief, The Day of Doom (1662).

There was some poetry, at least, of a higher order. Anne Bradstreet of

Massachusetts wrote some lyrics published in The Tenth Muse (1650), which

movingly conveyed her feelings concerning religion and her family. Ranked

still higher by modern critics is a poet whose works were not discovered

and published until 1939: Edward Taylor, an English-born minister and

physician who lived in Boston and Westfield, Massachusetts. Less touched by

gloom than the typical Puritan, Taylor wrote lyrics that showed his delight

in Christian belief and experience.All 17th-century American writings were

in the manner of British writings of the same period. John Smith wrote in

the tradition of geographic literature, Bradford echoed the cadences of the

King James Bible, while the Mathers and Roger Williams wrote bejeweled

prose typical of the day. Anne Bradstreet's poetic style derived from a

long line of British poets, including Spenser and Sidney, while Taylor was

in the tradition of such Metaphysical poets as George Herbert and John

Donne. Both the content and form of the literature of this first century in

America were thus markedly English.

The 18th century

In America in the early years of the 18th century, some writers, such

as Cotton Mather, carried on the older traditions. His huge history and

biography of Puritan New England, Magnalia Christi Americana, in 1702, and

his vigorous Manuductio ad Ministerium, or introduction to the ministry, in

1726, were defenses of ancient Puritan convictions. Jonathan Edwards,

initiator of the Great Awakening, a religious revival that stirred the

eastern seacoast for many years, eloquently defended his burning belief in

Calvinistic doctrine--of the concept that man, born totally depraved, could

attain virtue and salvation only through God's grace--in his powerful

sermons and most notably in the philosophical treatise Freedom of Will

(1754). He supported his claims by relating them to a complex metaphysical

system and by reasoning brilliantly in clear and often beautiful prose.But

Mather and Edwards were defending a doomed cause. Liberal New England

ministers such as John Wise and Jonathan Mayhew moved toward a less rigid

religion. Samuel Sewall heralded other changes in his amusing Diary,

covering the years 1673-1729. Though sincerely religious, he showed in

daily records how commercial life in New England replaced rigid Puritanism

with more worldly attitudes. The Journal of Mme Sara Knight comically

detailed a journey that lady took to New York in 1704. She wrote vividly of

what she saw and commented upon it from the standpoint of an orthodox

believer, but a quality of levity in her witty writings showed that she was

much less fervent than the Pilgrim founders had been. In the South, William

Byrd of Virginia, an aristocratic plantation owner, contrasted sharply with

gloomier predecessors. His record of a surveying trip in 1728, The History

of the Dividing Line, and his account of a visit to his frontier properties

in 1733, A Journey to the Land of Eden, were his chief works. Years in

England, on the Continent, and among the gentry of the South had created

gaiety and grace of expression, and, although a devout Anglican, Byrd was

as playful as the Restoration wits whose works he clearly admired.The

wrench of the American Revolution emphasized differences that had been

growing between American and British political concepts. As the colonists

moved to the belief that rebellion was inevitable, fought the bitter war,

and worked to found the new nation's government, they were influenced by a

number of very effective political writers, such as Samuel Adams and John

Dickinson, both of whom favoured the colonists, and Loyalist Joseph

Galloway. But two figures loomed above these--Benjamin Franklin and Thomas

Paine.Franklin, born in 1706, had started to publish his writings in his

brother's newspaper, the New England Courant, as early as 1722. This

newspaper championed the cause of the "Leather Apron" man and the farmer

and appealed by using easily understood language and practical arguments.

The idea that common sense was a good guide was clear in both the popular

Poor Richard's almanac, which Franklin edited between 1732 and 1757 and

filled with prudent and witty aphorisms purportedly written by uneducated

but experienced Richard Saunders, and in the author's Autobiography,

written between 1771 and 1788, a record of his rise from humble

circumstances that offered worldly wise suggestions for future

success.Franklin's self-attained culture, deep and wide, gave substance and

skill to varied articles, pamphlets, and reports that he wrote concerning

the dispute with Great Britain, many of them extremely effective in stating

and shaping the colonists' cause.Thomas Paine went from his native England

to Philadelphia and became a magazine editor and then, about 14 months

later, the most effective propagandist for the colonial cause. His pamphlet

"Common Sense" (January 1776) did much to influence the colonists to

declare their independence. "The American Crisis" papers (December 1776-

December 1783) spurred Americans to fight on through the blackest years of

the war. Based upon Paine's simple deistic beliefs, they showed the

conflict as a stirring melodrama with the angelic colonists against the

forces of evil. Such white and black picturings were highly effective

propaganda. Another reason for Paine's success was his poetic fervour,

which found expression in impassioned words and phrases long to be

remembered and quoted.

The 19th century

Early 19th-century literature

After the American Revolution, and increasingly after the War of 1812,

American writers were exhorted to produce a literature that was truly

native. As if in response, four authors of very respectable stature

appeared. William Cullen Bryant, Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper,

and Edgar Allan Poe initiated a great half century of literary

development.Bryant, a New Englander by birth, attracted attention in his

23rd year when the first version of his poem "Thanatopsis" (1817) appeared.

This, as well as some later poems, was written under the influence of

English 18th-century poets. Still later, however, under the influence of

Wordsworth and other Romantics, he wrote nature lyrics that vividly

represented the New England scene. Turning to journalism, he had a long

career as a fighting liberal editor of The Evening Post. He himself was

overshadowed, in renown at least, by a native-born New Yorker, Washington

Irving.Irving, youngest member of a prosperous merchant family, joined with

ebullient young men of the town in producing the Salmagundi papers (1807-

08), which took off the foibles of Manhattan's citizenry. This was followed

by A History of New York (1809), by "Diedrich Knickerbocker," a burlesque

history that mocked pedantic scholarship and sniped at the old Dutch

families. Irving's models in these works were obviously Neoclassical

English satirists, from whom he had learned to write in a polished, bright

style. Later, having met Sir Walter Scott and having become acquainted with

imaginative German literature, he introduced a new Romantic note in The

Sketch Book (1819-20), Bracebridge Hall (1822), and other works. He was the

first American writer to win the ungrudging (if somewhat surprised) respect

of British critics.James Fenimore Cooper won even wider fame. Following the

pattern of Sir Walter Scott's "Waverley" novels, he did his best work in

the "Leatherstocking" tales (1823-41), a five-volume series celebrating the

career of a great frontiersman named Natty Bumppo. His skill in weaving

history into inventive plots and in characterizing his compatriots brought

him acclaim not only in America and England but on the continent of Europe

as well.Edgar Allan Poe, reared in the South, lived and worked as an author

and editor in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Richmond, and New York City. His

work was shaped largely by analytical skill that showed clearly in his role

as an editor: time after time he gauged the taste of readers so accurately

that circulation figures of magazines under his direction soared

impressively. It showed itself in his critical essays, wherein he lucidly

explained and logically applied his criteria. His gothic tales of terror

were written in accordance with his findings when he studied the most

popular magazines of the day. His masterpieces of terror--"The Fall of the

House of Usher" (1839), "The Masque of the Red Death" (1842), "The Cask of

Amontillado" (1846), and others--were written according to a carefully

worked out psychological method. So were his detective stories, such as

"The Murders in the Rue Morgue" (1841), which historians credited as the

first of the genre. As a poet, he achieved fame with "The Raven" (1845).

His work, especially his critical writings and carefully crafted poems, had

perhaps a greater influence in France, where they were translated by

Charles Baudelaire, than in his own country.Two Southern novelists were

also outstanding in the earlier part of the century: John Pendleton Kennedy

and William Gilmore Simms. In Swallow Barn (1832), Kennedy wrote

delightfully of life on the plantations. Simms's forte was the writing of

historical novels like those of Scott and Cooper, which treated the history

of the frontier and his native South Carolina. The Yemassee (1835) and

Revolutionary romances show him at his best.

The 20th century

Writing from 1914 to 1945

Important movements in drama, poetry, fiction, and criticism took form

in the years before, during, and after World War I. The eventful period

that followed the war left its imprint upon books of all kinds. Literary

forms of the period were extraordinarily varied, and in drama, poetry, and

fiction leading authors tended toward radical technical

experiments.Experiments in dramaAlthough drama had not been a major art

form in the 19th century, no type of writing was more experimental than a

new drama that arose in rebellion against the glib commercial stage. In the

early years of the 20th century, Americans traveling in Europe encountered

a vital, flourishing theatre; returning home, some of them became active in

founding the Little Theatre movement throughout the country. Freed from

commercial limitations, playwrights experimented with dramatic forms and

methods of production, and in time producers, actors, and dramatists

appeared who had been trained in college classrooms and community

playhouses. Some Little Theatre groups became commercial producers--for

example, the Washington Square Players, founded in 1915, which became the

Theatre Guild (first production in 1919). The resulting drama was marked by

a spirit of innovation and by a new seriousness and maturity.Eugene

O'Neill, the most admired dramatist of the period, was a product of this

movement. He worked with the Provincetown Players before his plays were

commercially produced. His dramas were remarkable for their range. Beyond

the Horizon (first performed 1920), Anna Christie (1921), Desire Under the

Elms (1924), and The Iceman Cometh (1946) were naturalistic works, while

The Emperor Jones (1920) and The Hairy Ape (1922) made use of the

Expressionistic techniques developed in German drama in the period 1914-24.

He also employed a stream-of-consciousness form in Strange Interlude (1928)

and produced a work that combined myth, family drama, and psychological

analysis in Mourning Becomes Electra (1931).No other dramatist was as

generally praised as O'Neill, but many others wrote plays that reflected

the growth of a serious and varied drama, including Maxwell Anderson, whose

verse dramas have dated badly, and Robert E. Sherwood, a Broadway

professional who wrote both comedy (Reunion in Vienna [1931]) and tragedy

(There Shall Be No Night [1940]). Marc Connelly wrote touching fantasy in a

Negro folk biblical play, The Green Pastures (1930). Like O'Neill, Elmer

Rice made use of both Expressionistic techniques (The Adding Machine

[1923]) and naturalism (Street Scene [1929]). Lillian Hellman wrote

powerful, well-crafted melodramas in The Children's Hour (1934) and The

Little Foxes (1939). Radical theatre experiments included Marc Blitzstein's

savagely satiric musical The Cradle Will Rock (1937) and the work of Orson

Welles and John Houseman for the government-sponsored Works Progress

Administration (WPA) Federal Theatre Project. The premier radical theatre

of the decade was the Group Theatre (1931-41) under Harold Clurman and Lee

Strasberg, which became best known for presenting the work of Clifford

Odets. In Waiting for Lefty (1935), a stirring plea for labour unionism,

Odets roused the audience to an intense pitch of fervour, and in Awake and

Sing (1935), perhaps the best play of the decade, he created a lyrical work

of family conflict and youthful yearning. Other important plays by Odets

for the Group Theatre were Paradise Lost (1935), Golden Boy (1937), and

Rocket to the Moon (1938). Thornton Wilder used stylized settings and

poetic dialogue in Our Town (1938) and turned to fantasy in The Skin of Our

Teeth (1942). William Saroyan shifted his lighthearted, anarchic vision

from fiction to drama with My Heart's in the Highlands and The Time of Your

Life (both 1939).

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


Samuel Clemens was born in Missouri in 1835. He grew up in the town of

Hannibal, Missouri, which would become the model for St. Petersburg, the

fictional town where Huckleberry Finn begins. Missouri was a "slave state"

during this period, and Clemens' family owned a few slaves. In Missouri,

most slaves worked as domestic servants, rather than on the large

agricultural plantations that most slaves elsewhere in the United States

experienced. This domestic slavery is what Twain generally describes in

Huckleberry Finn, even when the action occurs in the deep South. The

institution of slavery figures prominently in the novel and is important in

developing both the theme and the two most important characters, Huck and


Twain received a brief formal education, before going to work as an

apprentice in a print shop. He would later find work on a steamboat on the

Mississippi River. Twain developed a lasting afiection for the Mississippi

and life on a steamboat, and would immortalize both in Life on the

Mississippi (1883), and in certain scenes of Tom Sawyer (1876), and

Huckleberry Finn (1885). He took his pseudonym, "Mark Twain," from the call

a steamboat worker would make when the ship reached a (safe) depth of two

fathoms. Twain would go on to work as a journalist in San Francisco and

Nevada in the 1860s. He soon discovered his talent as a humorist, and by

1865 his humorous stories were attracting national attention.

In 1870, Twain married Olivia Langdon of New York State. The family

moved to Hartford, Connecticut, to a large, ornate house paid for with the

royalties from Twain's successful literary adventures. At Hartford and

during stays with Olivia's family in New York State, Twain wrote The Gilded

Age, co-authored with Charles Dudley Warner in 1873 and The Prince and the

Pauper (1882), as well as the two books already mentioned. Adventures of

Huckleberry Finn was finally published in 1885. Twain had begun the book

years earlier, but the writing was done in spurts of inspiration

interrupted by long periods during which the manuscript sat in the author's

desk. Despite the economic crisis that plagued the United States then, the

book became a huge popular and financial success. It would become a classic

of American literature and receive acclaim around the world{today it has

been published in at least twenty-seven languages.

Still, at the time of publication, the author was bothered by the many

bad reviews it received in the national press. The book was principally

attacked for its alleged indecency. After the 1950s, the chief attacks on

the book would be against its alleged racism or racial bigotry. For various

reasons, the book frequently has been banned from US schools and children's

libraries, though it was never really intended as a children's book.

Nonetheless, the book has been widely read ever since its first publication

well over a century ago, an exception to Twain's definition of a classic as

"a book which people praise and don't read."


Huckleberry Finn { The protagonist and narrator of the novel. Huck is

the thirteen or fourteen year-old son of the local drunk in the town of St.

Petersburg, Missouri, at the start of the novel. He is kidnapped by his

father, Pap, from the "sivilizing" in uence of the Widow Douglas and Miss

Watson, and then fakes his own death to escape. He meets Jim on Jackson's

Island. The rest of the novel is largely motivated by two conflicts: the

external con ict to achieve Jim's freedom, and the internal con ict within

Huck between his own sense of right and wrong and society's. Huck has a

series of "adventures," making many observations on human nature and the

South as he does. He progressively rejects the values of the dominant

society and matures morally as he does. Jim { A slave who escaped from Miss

Watson after she considered selling him down river. He encounters Huck on

Jackson's Island, and the two become friends and spend most of the rest of

the novel together. Jim deeply grieves his separation from his wife and two

children and dreams of getting them back. He is an intensely human

character, perhaps the novel's most complex. Through his example, Huck

learns to appreciate the humanity of black people, overcoming his society's

bigotry and making a break with its moral code. Twain also uses him to

demonstrate racial equality. But Jim himself remains somewhat enigmatic; he

seems both comrade and father figure to Huck, though Huck, the youthful

narrator, may not be able to thoroughly evaluate his friend, and so the

reader has to suppose some of his qualities.

The Duke and Dauphin { These two criminals appear for much of the

novel. Their real names are never given, but the younger man, about thirty

years old, claims to be the Duke of Bridgewater, and is called both "the

Duke" and "Bridgewater" in the novel, though for the sake of clarity, he is

only called "the Duke" here. The much older man claims to be the son of

Louis XVI, the executed French king. "Dauphin" was the title given to heirs

to the French throne. He is mostly called "the king" in the novel (since

his father is dead, he would be the rightful king), though he is called

"the Dauphin" in this study guide since the name is more distinctive. The

two show themselves to be truly bad when they separate a slave family at

the Wilks household, and later sell Jim.

Tom Sawyer { Huck's friend, and the protagonist of Tom Sawyer, the

novel for which Huckleberry Finn is ostensibly the sequel. He is in many

ways Huck's foil, given to exotic plans and romantic adventure literature,

while Huck is more down-to-earth. He also turns out to be profoundly


On the whole, Tom is identified with the "civilzation" from which Huck

is alienated. Other characters, in order of appearance Widow Douglas and

Miss Watson { Two wealthy sisters who live together in a large house in St.

Petersburg. Miss Watson is the older sister, gaunt and severe-looking. She

also adheres the strongest to the hypocritical religious and ethical values

of the dominant society. Widow Douglas, meanwhile, is somewhat gentler in

her beliefs and has more patience with the mischievous Huckleberry. She

adopted Huck at the end of the last novel, Tom Sawyer, and he is in her

care at the start of Huckleberry Finn. When Miss Watson considers selling

Jim down to New Orleans, away from his wife and children and deep into the

plantation system, Jim escapes. She eventually repents, making provision in

her will for Jim to be freed, and dies two months before the novel ends.

Pap { Huckleberry's father and the town drunk and ne'er- do-well. When

he appears at the beginning of the novel, he is a human wreck, his skin a

disgusting ghost-like white, and his clothes hopelessly tattered. Like

Huck, he is a member of the least privileged class of whites, and is

illiterate. He is angry that his son is getting an education. He wants to

get hold of Huck's money, presumably to spend it on alcohol. He kidnaps

Huck and holds him deep in the woods. When Huck fakes his own murder, Pap

is nearly lynched when suspicions turn his way. But he escapes, and Jim

eventually finds his dead body on an abandoned houseboat.

Judge Thatcher { Judge Thatcher is in charge of safeguarding the money

Huck and Tom won at the end of Tom Sawyer. When Huck discovers his father

has come to town, he wisely signs his fortune over to the Judge. Judge

Thatcher has a daughter, Becky, whom Huck calls "Bessie."

Aunt Polly { Tom Sawyer's aunt and guardian. She appears at the end of

Huckleberry Finn and properly identifies Huck, who has pretended to be Tom;

and Tom, who has pretended to be his brother, Sid (who never appears in

this novel).

The Grangerfords { The master of the Grangerford clan is

"Colonel"Grangerford, who has a wife. The children are Bob, the oldest,

then Tom, then Charlotte, aged twenty- five, Sophia, twenty, and Buck, the

youngest, about thirteen or fourteen. They also had a deceased daughter,

Emme- line, who made unintentionally humorous, maudlin pictures and poems

for the dead. Huckleberry thinks the Grangerfords are all physically

beautiful. They live on a large estate worked by many slaves. Their house

is decked out in humorously tacky finery that Huckleberry innocently

admires. The Grangerfords are in a feud with the Shepardsons, though no one

can remember the cause of the feud or see any real reason to continue it.

When Sophia runs off with a Shepardson, the feud reignites, and Buck and

another boy are shot. With the Grangerfords and the Shepardsons, Twain

illustrates the bouts of irrational brutality to which the South was prone.

The Wilks Family { The deceased Peter Wilks has three daughters, Mary

Jane, Susan, and Joanne (whom Huck calls "the Harelip"). Mary Jane, the

oldest, takes charge of the sisters' afiairs. She is beautiful and kind-

hearted, but easily swindled by the Duke and Dauphin. Susan is the next

youngest. Joanna possess a cleft palate (a birth defect) and so Huck

somewhat tastelessly refers to her as "the Hare Lip" (another name for

cleft palate). She initially suspects Huck and the Duke and Dauphin, but

eventually falls for the scheme like the others.

The Phelps family { The Phelps family includes Aunt Sally, Uncle Silas

and their children. They also own several slaves. Sally and Silas are

generally kind-hearted, and Silas in particular is a complete innocent. Tom

and Huck are able to continue playing pranks on them for quite some time

before they suspect anything is wrong. Sally, however, displays a chilling

level of bigotry toward blacks, which many of her fellow Southerners likely

share. The town

in which they live also cruelly kills the Duke and Dauphin. With the

Phelps, Twain contrasts the good side of Southern civilization with its bad



Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was finally published in 1885. Twain had

begun the book years earlier, but the writing was done in spurts of

inspiration interrupted by long periods during which the manuscript sat in

the author's desk. Despite the economic crisis that plagued the United

States then, the book became a huge popular and financial success. It would

become a classic of American literature and receive acclaim around the

world{today it has been published in at least twenty-seven languages.

Still, at the time of publication, the author was bothered by the many

bad reviews it received in the national press. The book was principally

attacked for its alleged indecency. After the 1950s, the chief attacks on

the book would be against its alleged racism or racial bigotry. For various

reasons, the book frequently has been banned from US schools and children's

libraries, though it was never really intended as a children's book.

Nonetheless, the book has been widely read ever since its first publication

well over a century ago, an exception to Twain's definition of a classic as

"a book which people praise and don't read."

Chapter 1 Summary

The narrator (later identified as Huckleberry Finn) begins Chapter One

by stating that the reader may know of him from another book, The

Adventures of Tom Sawyer by "Mr. Mark Twain," but it "ain't t no matter" if

you have not. According to Huck, Twain mostly told the truth, with some

"stretchers" thrown in, though everyone{except Tom's Aunt Polly, the widow,

and maybe Mary{lies once in a while. The other book ended with Tom and

Huckleberry finding the gold some robbers had hidden in a cave. They got

six thousand dollars apiece, which Judge Thatcher put in trust, so that

they each got a dollar a day from interest. The Widow Douglas adopted and

tried to "civilise" Huck. But Huck couldn't stand it so he threw on his old

rags and ran away. But he went back when Tom Sawyer told him he could join

his new band of robbers if he would return to the Widow "and be


The Widow lamented over her failure with Huck, tried to stufi him into

cramped clothing, and before every meal had to "grumble" over the food

before they could eat it. She tried to teach him about Moses, until Huck

found out he was dead and lost interest. Meanwhile, she would not let him

smoke; typically, she disapproved of it because she had never tried it, but

approved of snufi since she used it herself. Her slim sister who wears

glasses, Miss Watson, tried to give him spelling lessons.

Meanwhile, Huck was going stir-crazy, made especially restless by the

sisters' constant reminders to improve his behavior. When Miss Watson told

him about the "bad place," Hell, he burst out that he would like to go

there, as a change of scenery. Secretly, Huck really does not see the point

in going to "the good place" and resolved then not to bother trying to get


When Huck asked, Miss Watson told him there was no chance Tom Sawyer

would end up in Heaven. Huck was glad "because I wanted him and me to be

together." One night, after Miss Watson's prayer session with him and the

slaves, Huck goes to bed feeling "so lonesome I wished I was dead." He gets

shivers hearing the sounds of nature through his window. Huck accidentally

icks a spider into a candle, and is frightened by the bad omen. Just after

midnight, Huck hears movement below the window, and a "me-yow" sound, that

he responds to with another "me-yow." Climbing out the window onto the

shed, Huck finds Tom Sawyer waiting for him.

Chapters 2-3 Summary

Huck and Tom tiptoe through the garden. Huck trips on a root as he

passes the kitchen. Jim, a "big" slave, hears him from inside. Tom and Huck

crouch down, trying to stay still. But Huck is struck by an uncontrollable

itch, as always happens when he is in a situation, like when he's "with the

quality," where it is bad to scratch. Jim says aloud that he will stay put

until he discovers the source of the sound, but after several minutes falls

asleep. Tom plays a trick on Jim{putting his hat on a tree branch over his

head{and takes candles from the kitchen, over Huck's objections that they

will risk getting caught. Later, Jim will say that some witches ew him

around the state and put the hat above his head as a calling card. He

expands the tale further, becoming a local celebrity among the slaves, who

enjoy witch stories. He wears around his neck the five-cent piece Tom left

for the candles, calling it a charm from the devil with the power to cure

sickness. Jim nearly becomes so stuck-up from his newfound celebrity that

he is unfit to be a servant.

Meanwhile, Tom and Huck meet up with a few other boys, and take a boat

to a large cave. There, Tom declares his new band of robbers, "Tom Sawyer's

Gang." All must sign in blood an oath vowing, among other things, to kill

the family of any member who reveals the gang's secrets. The boys think it

"a real beautiful oath." Tom admits he got part of it from books. The boys

nearly disqualify Huck, who has no family but a drunken father who can

never be found, until Huck offers Miss Watson. Tom says the gang must

capture and ransom people, though nobody knows what "ransom" means.

Tom assumes it means to kill them. But anyway, it must be done since

all the books say so. When one boy cries to go home and threatens to tell

the group's secrets, Tom bribes him with five cents. They agree to meet

again someday, just not Sunday, which would be blasphemous. Huckleberry

makes it back into bed just before dawn.

Miss Watson tries to explain prayer to Huckleberry in Chapter Three.

Huckleberry gives up on it after not getting what he prays for. Miss Watson

calls him a fool, and explains prayer bestows spiritual gifts like sel

essness to help others. Huck cannot see any advantage in this, except for

the others one helps. So he resolves to forget it. Widow Douglas describes

a wonderful God, while Miss Watson's is terrible. Huck concludes there are

two Gods. He would like to belong to Widow Douglas's, if He would take him

unlikely because of Huck's bad qualities.

Meanwhile, a rumor circulates that Huck's Pap, who has not been seen in

a year, is dead. A corpse was found in the river, thought to be Pap because

of its "ragged" appearance, though the face is unrecognizable. At first

Huck is relieved. His father had been a drunk who beat him when he was

sober, though Huck stayed hidden from him most of the time. Soon, however,

Huck doubts his father's death, and expects to see him again.

After a month in Tom's gang, Huck quit along with the rest of the boys.

There was no point to it, without any robbery or killing, their activities

being all pretend. Once, Tom pretended a caravan of Arabs and Spaniards

were going to encamp nearby with hundreds of camels and elephants. It

turned out to be a Sunday school picnic. Tom explained it really was a

caravan of Arabs and Spaniards - only they were enchanted, like in Don

Quixote. Huckleberry judged Tom's stories of genies to be lies, after

rubbing old lamps and rings with no result.

Chapters 4-6 Summary

In Chapter Four, Huckleberry is gradually adjusting to his new life,

and even making small progress in school. One winter morning, Huck notices

boot tracks in the snow near the house. Within one heel print is the shape

of two nails crossed to ward off the devil. Huck runs to Judge Thatcher,

looking over his shoulder as he does. He sells his fortune to the surprised

Judge for a dollar. That night Huck goes to Jim, who has a magical giant

hairball from an ox's stomach. Huck tells Jim he found Pap's tracks in the

snow and wants to know what his father wants. Jim says the hairball needs

money to talk, and so Huck gives a counterfeit quarter. Jim puts his ear to

the hairball, and relates that Huck's father has two angels, one black and

one white, one bad, one good. It is uncertain which will win out. But Huck

is safe for now. He will have much happiness and much sorrow in his life,

will marry a poor and then a rich woman, and should stay clear of the

water, since that is where he will die. That night, Huck finds Pap waiting

in his bedroom!

Pap's long, greasy, black hair hangs over his face. The nearly fifty-

year-old man's skin is a ghastly, disgusting white. Noticing Huck's

"starchy" clothes, Pap wonders aloud if he thinks himself better than his

father, promising to take him "down a peg." Pap promises to teach Widow

Douglas not to "meddle" and make a boy "put on airs over his own father."

Pap is outraged that Huck has become the first person in his family to

learn to read. He threatens Huck not to go near the school again. He asks

Huck if he is really rich, as he has heard, and calls him a liar when he

says he has no more money.

He takes the dollar Huck got from Judge Thatcher. He leaves to get

whiskey, and the next day, drunk, demands Huck's money from Judge Thatcher.

The Judge and Widow Douglas try to get custody of Huck, but give up after

the new judge in town refuses to separate a father from his son. Pap lands

in jail after a drunken spree. The new judge takes Pap into his home and

tries to reform him. Pap tearfully repents his ways but soon gets drunk

again. The new judge decides Pap cannot be reformed except with a shotgun.

Pap sues Judge Thatcher for Huck's fortune. He also continues to

threaten Huck about attending school, which Huck does partly to spite his

father. Pap goes on one drunken binge after another. One day he kidnaps

Huck and takes him deep into the woods, to a secluded cabin on the Illinois

shore. He locks Huck inside all day while he goes out. Huck enjoys being

away from civilization again, though he does not like his father's beatings

and his drinking. Eventually, Huck finds an old saw hidden away. He slowly

makes a hole in the wall while his father is away, resolved to escape from

both Pap and the Widow Douglas. But Pap returns as Huck is about to finish.

He complains about the "govment," saying Judge Thatcher has delayed the

trial to prevent Pap from getting Huck's wealth. He has heard his chances

are good, though he will probably lose the fight for custody of Huck. He

further rails against a biracial black visitor to the town. The visitor is

well dressed, university- educated, and not at all deferential. Pap is

disgusted that the visitor can vote in his home state, and that legally he

cannot be sold into slavery until he has been in the state six months.

Later, Pap wakes from a drunken sleep and chases after Huck with a knife,

calling him the "Angel of Death," stopping when he collapses in sleep. Huck

holds the ri e against his sleeping father and waits.

Chapters 7-10 Summary

Huck falls asleep, to be awakened by Pap, who is unaware of the night's

events. Pap sends Huck out to check for fish. Huck finds a canoe drifting

in the river and hides it in the woods. When Pap leaves for the day, Huck

finishes sawing his way out of the cabin. He puts food, cookware,

everything of value in the cabin, into the canoe. He covers up the hole in

the wall and then shoots a wild pig. He hacks down the cabin door, hacks

the pig to bleed onto the cabin's dirt oor, and makes other preparations so

that it seems robbers came and killed him. Huck goes to the canoe and waits

for the moon to rise, resolving to canoe to Jackson's Island, but falls

asleep. When he wakes he sees Pap row by. Once he has passed, Huck quietly

sets out down river. He pulls into Jackson's Island, careful not to be


The next morning in Chapter Eight, a boat passes by with Pap, Judge and

Becky Thatcher, Tom Sawyer, his Aunt Polly, some of Huck's young friends,

and "plenty more" on board, all discussing the murder. They shoot cannon

over the water and oat loaves of bread with mercury inside, in hopes of

locating Huck's corpse. Huck, careful not to be seen, catches a loaf and

eats it.

Exploring the island, Huck is delighted to find Jim, who at first

thinks Huck is a ghost. Now Huck won't be lonely anymore. Huck is shocked

when Jim explains he ran away. Jim overheard Miss Watson discussing selling

him for eight hundred dollars, to a slave trader who would take him to New

Orleans. He left before she had a chance to decide. Jim displays a great

knowledge of superstition. He tells Huck how he once "speculated" ten

dollars in (live)stock, but lost most of it when the steer died. He then

lost five dollars in a failed slave start-up bank. He gave his last ten

cents to a slave, who gave it away after a preacher told him that charity

repays itself one-hundred-fold. It didn't. But Jim still has his hairy arms

and chest, a portent of future wealth. He also now owns all eight-hundred-

dollars' worth of himself.

In Chapter Nine, Jim and Huck take the canoe and provisions into the

large cavern in the middle of the island, to have a hiding place in case of

visitors, and to protect their things. Jim predicted it would rain, and

soon it downpours, with the two safely inside the cavern. The river oods


A washed-out houseboat oats down the river past the island. Jim and

Huck find a man's body inside, shot in the back. Jim prevents Huck from

looking at the face; it's too "ghastly." They make off with some odds and

ends. Huck has Jim hide in the bottom of the canoe so he won't be seen.

They make it back safely to the cave.

In Chapter Ten, Huck wonders about the dead man, though Jim warns it's

bad luck. Sure enough, bad luck comes: as a joke, Huck puts a dead

rattlesnake near Jim's sleeping place, and its mate comes and bites Jim.

Jim's leg swells, but after four days it goes down. A while later, Huck

decides to go ashore and to find out what's new. Jim agrees, but has Huck

disguise himself as a girl, with one of the dresses they took from the


Huck practices his girl impersonation, then sets out for the Illinois

shore. In a formerly abandoned shack, he finds a woman who looks forty, and

also appears a newcomer. Huck is relieved she is a newcomer, since she will

not be able to recognize him.

Chapters 11-13 Summary

The woman eyes Huckleberry somewhat suspiciously as she lets him in.

Huck introduces himself as "Sarah Williams," from Hookerville. The woman

"clatters on," eventually getting to Huck's murder. She reveals that Pap

was suspected and nearly lynched, but people came to suspect Jim, since he

ran away the same day Huck was killed. There is a three- hundred-dollar

price on Jim's head. But soon, suspicions turned again to Pap, after he

blew money the judge gave him to find Jim on drink. But he left town before

he could be lynched, and now there is two hundred dollars on his head. The

woman has noticed smoke over on Jackson's Island, and, suspecting that Jim

might be hiding there, told her husband to look. He will go there tonight

with another man and a gun. The woman looks at Huck suspiciously and asks

his name.

He replies, "Mary Williams." When the woman asks about the change, he

covers himself, saying his full name is "Sarah Mary Williams." She has him

try to kill a rat by pitching a lump of lead at it, and he nearly hits.

Finally, she asks him to reveal his (male) identity, saying she understands

that he is a runaway apprentice and will not turn him in. He says his name

is George Peters, and he was indeed apprenticed to a mean farmer. She lets

him go after quizzing him on farm subjects, to make sure he's telling the

truth. She tells him to send for her, Mrs. Judith Loftus, if he has

trouble. Back at the island, Huck tells Jim they must shove off, and they

hurriedly pack their things and slowly ride out on a raft they had found.

Huck and Jim build a wigwam on the raft in Chapter Twelve. They spend a

number of days drifting down river, passing the great lights of St. Louis

on the fifth night. They "lived pretty high," buying, "borrowing", or

hunting food as they need it. One night they come upon a wreaked steamship.

Over Jim's objections, Huck goes onto the wreck, to loot it and have an

"adventure," the way Tom Sawyer would. On the wreck, Huck overhears two

robbers threatening to kill a third so that he won't "talk."

One of the two manages to convince the other to let their victim be

drowned with the wreck. They leave. Huck finds Jim and says they have to

cut the robbers' boat loose so they can't escape. Jim says that their own

raft has broken loose and oated away. Huck and Jim head for the robbers'

boat in Chapter Thirteen. The robbers put some booty in the boat, but leave

to get some more money off the man on the steamboat. Jim and Huck jump

right into the boat and head off as quietly as possible. A few hundred

yards safely away, Huck feels bad for the robbers left stranded on the

wreck since, who knows, he may end up a robber himself someday. They find

their raft just before they stop for Huck to go ashore for help. Ashore,

Huck finds a ferry watchman, and tells him his family is stranded on the

steamboat wreck. The watchman tell him the wreck is of the Walter Scott.

Huck invents an elaborate story as to how his family got on the wreck,

including the niece of a local big shot among them, so that the man is more

than happy to take his ferry to help. Huck feels good about his good deed,

and thinks Widow Douglas would have been proud of him. Jim and Huck turn

into an island, and sink the robbers' boat before going to bed.

Chapters 14-16 Summary

Jim and Huck find a number of valuables among the robbers' booty in

Chapter Fourteen, mostly trinkets and cigars. Jim says he doesn't enjoy

Huck's "adventures," since they risk his getting caught. Huck recognizes

that Jim is intelligent, at least for what Huck thinks of a black person.

Huck astonishes Jim with his stories of kings. Jim had only heard of King

Solomon, whom he considers a fool for wanting to chop a baby in half. Huck

cannot convince Jim otherwise. Huck also tells Jim about the "dolphin," son

of the executed King Louis XVI of France, rumored to be wandering America.

Jim is incredulous when Huck explains that the French do not speak English,

but another language. Huck tries to argue the point with Jim, but gives up

in defeat.

Huck and Jim are nearing the Ohio River, their goal, in Chapter

Fifteen. But one densely foggy night, Huck, in the canoe, gets separated

from Jim and the raft. He tries to paddle back to it, but the fog is so

thick he loses all sense of direction. After a lonely time adrift, Huck is

reunited with Jim, who is asleep on the raft. Jim is thrilled to see Huck

alive. But Huck tries to trick Jim, pretending he dreamed their entire

separation. Jim tells Huck the story of his dream, making the fog and the

troubles he faced on the raft into an allegory of their journey to the free

states. But soon Jim notices all the debris, dirt and tree branches, that

collected on the raft while it was adrift.

He gets mad at Huck for making a fool of him after he had worried about

him so much. "It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go

and humble myself to a nigger," but Huck apologizes, and does not regret

it. He feels bad about hurting Jim. Jim and Huck hope they don't miss

Cairo, the town at the mouth of the Ohio River, which runs into the free

states. Meanwhile, Huck's conscience troubles him deeply about helping Jim

escape from his "rightful owner," Miss Watson, especially after her

consideration for Huck. Jim can't stop talking about going to the free

states, especially about his plan to earn money to buy his wife and

children's freedom, or have some abolitionists kidnap them if their masters

refuse. When they think they see Cairo, Jim goes out on the canoe to check,

secretly resolved to give Jim up. But his heart softens when he hears Jim

call out that he is his only friend, the only one to keep a promise to him.

Huck comes upon some men in a boat who want to search his raft for escaped

slaves. Huck pretends to be grateful, saying no one else would help them.

He leads them to believe his family, on board the raft, has smallpox. The

men back away, telling Huck to go further downstream and lie about his

family's condition to get help. They leave forty dollars in gold out of

pity. Huck feels bad for having done wrong by not giving Jim up.

But he realizes that he would have felt just as bad if he had given Jim

up. Since good and bad seem to have the same results, Huck resolves to

disregard morality in the future and do what's "handiest." Floating along,

they pass several towns that are not Cairo, and worry that they passed it

in the fog. They stop for the night, and resolve to take the canoe upriver,

but in the morning it is gone{ more bad luck from the rattlesnake. Later, a

steamboat drives right into the raft, breaking it apart. Jim and Huck dive

off in time, but are separated. Huck makes it ashore, but is caught by a

pack of dogs.

Chapters 17-19 Summary

A man finds Huck in Chapter Seventeen and calls off the dogs. Huck

introduces himself as George Jackson. The man brings "George" home, where

he is eyed cautiously as a possible member of the Sheperdson family. But

they decide he is not. The lady of the house has Buck, a boy about Huck's

age (thirteen or fourteen) get Huck some dry clothes. Buck says he would

have killed a Shepardson if there had been any. Buck tells Huck a riddle,

though Huck does not understand the concept of riddles. Buck says Huck must

stay with him and they will have great fun. Huck invents an elaborate story

of how he was orphaned. The family, the Grangerfords, offer to let him stay

with them for as long as he likes. Huck innocently admires the house and

its (humorously tacky) finery. He similarly admires the work of a deceased

daughter, Emmeline, who created (unintentionally funny) maudlin pictures

and poems about people who died. "Nothing couldn't be better" than life at

the comfortable house.

Huck admires Colonel Grangerford, the master of the house, and his

supposed gentility. He is a warm- hearted man, treated with great courtesy

by everyone. He own a very large estate with over a hundred slaves. The

family's children, besides Buck, are Bob, the oldest, then Tom, then

Charlotte, aged twenty-five, and Sophia, twenty, all of them beautiful.

Three sons have been killed. One day, Buck tries to shoot Harney

Shepardson, but misses. Huck asks why he wanted to kill him. Buck explains

the Grangerfords are in a feud with a neighboring clan of families, the

Shepardsons, who are as grand as they are. No one can remember how the feud

started, or name a purpose for it, but in the last year two people have

been killed, including a fourteen-year-old Grangerford. Buck declares the

Shepardson men all brave. The two families attend church together, their ri

es between their knees as the minister preaches about brotherly love. After

church one day, Sophia has Huck retrieve a bible from the pews. She is

delighted to find inside a note with the words "two-thirty." Later, Huck's

slave valet leads him deep into the swamp, telling him he wants to show him

some water-moccasins. There he finds Jim! Jim had followed Huck to the

shore the night they were wrecked, but did not dare call out for fear of

being caught. In the last few days he has repaired the raft and bought

supplies to replace what was lost. The next day Huck learns that Sophie has

run off with a Shepardson boy. In the woods, Huck finds Buck and a nineteen-

year-old Grangerford in a gun-fight with the Shepardsons. The two are later

killed. Deeply disturbed, Huck heads for Jim and the raft, and the two

shove off downstream. Huck notes, "You feel mighty free and easy and

comfortable on a raft."

Huck and Jim are lazily drifting down the river in Chapter Nineteen.

One day they come upon two men on shore eeing some trouble and begging to

be let onto the raft. Huck takes them a mile downstream to safety. One man

is about seventy, bald, with whiskers, the other, thirty. Both men's

clothes are badly tattered. The men do not know each other but are in

similar predicaments. The younger man had been selling a paste to remove

tartar from teeth that takes much of the enamel off with it. He ran out to

avoid the locals' ire. The other had run a temperance (sobriety) revival

meeting, but had to ee after word got out that he drank. The two men, both

professional scam-artists, decide to team up. The younger man declares

himself an impoverished English duke, and gets Huck and Jim to wait on him

and treat him like royalty. The old man then reveals his true identity as

the Dauphin, Louis XVI's long lost son. Huck and Jim then wait on him as

they had the "duke." Soon Huck realizes the two are liars, but to prevent

"quarrels," does not let on that he knows.

Chapters 20-22 Summary

The Duke and Dauphin ask whether Jim is a runaway, and so Huckleberry

concocts a tale of how he was orphaned, and he and Jim were forced to

travel at night since so many people stopped his boat to ask whether Jim

was a runaway. That night, the two royals take Jim and Huck's beds while

they stand watch against a storm. The next morning, the Duke gets the

Dauphin to agree to put on a performance of Shakespeare in the next town

they cross. Everyone in the town has left for a revival meeting in the

woods. The meeting is a lively afiair of several thousand people singing

and shouting.

The Dauphin gets up and declares himself a former pirate, now reformed

by the meeting, who will return to the Indian Ocean as a missionary. The

crowd joyfully takes up a collection, netting the Dauphin eighty-seven

dollars and seventy-five cents, and many kisses from pretty young women.

Meanwhile, the Duke took over the deserted print offce and got nine and a

half dollars selling advertisements in the local newspaper. The Duke also

prints up a handbill offering a reward for Jim, so that they can travel

freely by day and tell whoever asks about Jim that the slave is their

captive. The Duke and Dauphin practice the balcony scene from Romeo and

Juliet and the sword fight from Richard III on the raft in Chapter Twenty-


The duke also works on his recitation of Hamlet's "To be or not to be,"

soliloquy, which he has butchered, throwing in lines from other parts of

the play, and even Macbeth. But to Huck, the Duke seems to possess a great

talent. They visit a one-horse town in Arkansas where lazy young men loiter

in the streets, arguing over chewing tobacco. The Duke posts handbills for

the performance. Huck witnesses the shooting of a rowdy drunk by a man,

Sherburn, he insulted, in front of the victim's daughter. A crowd gathers

around the dying man and then goes off to lynch Sherburn.

The mob charges through the streets in Chapter Twenty-two, sending

women and children running away crying in its wake. They go to Sherburn's

house, knock down the front fence, but back away as the man meets them on

the roof of his front porch, ri e in hand. After a chilling silence,

Sherburn delivers a haughty speech on human nature, saying the average

person, and everyone in the mob, is a coward. Southern juries don't convict

murderers because they rightly fear being shot in the back, in the dark, by

the man's family. Mobs are the most pitiful of all, since no one in them is

brave enough in his own right to commit the act without the mass behind

him. Sherburn declares no one will lynch him: it is daylight and the

Southern way is to wait until dark and come wearing masks. The mob

disperses. Huck then goes to the circus, a "splendid" show, whose clown

manages to come up with fantastic one-liners in a remarkably short amount

of time. A performer, pretending to be a drunk, forces himself into the

ring and tries to ride a horse, apparently hanging on for dear life. The

crowd roars its amusement, except for Huck, who cannot bear to watch the

poor man's danger. Only twelve people came to the Duke's performance, and

they laughed all the way through. So the Duke prints another handbill, this

time advertising a performance of "The King's Cameleopard [Girafie] or The

Royal Nonesuch." Bold letters across the bottom read, "Women and Children

Not Admitted."

Chapters 23-25 Summary

The new performance plays to a capacity audience. The Dauphin, naked

except for body paint and some "wild" accouterments, has the audience

howling with laughter. But the Duke and Dauphin are nearly attacked when

the show is ended after this brief performance. To avoid losing face, the

audience convinces the rest of the town the show is a smash, and a capacity

crowd follows the second night. As the Duke anticipated, the third night's

crowd consists of the two previous audiences coming to get their revenge.

The Duke and Huck make a getaway to the raft before the show starts. From

the three-night run, they took in four-hundred sixty-five dollars. Jim is

shocked that the royals are such "rapscallions." Huck explains that history

shows nobles to be rapscallions who constantly lie, steal, and

decapitate{describing in the process how Henry VIII started the Boston Tea

Party and wrote the Declaration of Independence. Huck doesn't see the point

in telling Jim the two are fakes; besides, they really do seem like the

real thing. Jim spends his night watches "moaning and mourning" for his

wife and two children, Johnny and Lizabeth. Though "It don't seem natural,"

Huck concludes that Jim loves his family as much as whites love theirs. Jim

is torn apart when he hears a thud in the distance, because it reminds him

of the time he beat his Lizabeth for not doing what he said, not realizing

she had been made deaf-mute by her bout with scarlet fever.

In Chapter Twenty-four, Jim complains about having to wait, frightened,

in the boat, tied up (to avoid suspicion) while the others are gone. So the

Duke dresses Jim in a calico stage robe and blue face paint, and posts a

sign, "Sick Arab{but harmless when not out of his head." Ashore and dressed

up in their newly bought clothes, the Dauphin decides to make a big

entrance by steamboat into the next town. The Dauphin calls Huck

"Adolphus," and encounters a talkative young man who tells him about the

recently deceased Peter Wilks. Wilks sent for his two brothers from

Shefield, England: Harvey, whom he had not seen since he was five, and

William, who is deaf-mute. He has left all his property to his brothers,

though it seems uncertain whether they will ever arrive. The Dauphin gets

the young traveler, who is en route to Rio de Janeiro, to tell him

everything about the Wilks. In Wilks' town, they ask after Peter Wilks,

pretending anguish when told of his death. The Dauphin even makes strange

hand signs to the Duke. "It was enough to make a body ashamed of the human

race," Huck thinks.

A crowd gathers before Wilks' house in Chapter Twenty-five, as the Duke

and Dauphin share a tearful meeting with the three Wilks daughters. The

entire town then joins in the "blubbering." "I never see anything so

disgusting," Huck thinks. Wilks' letter (which he left instead of a will)

leaves the house and three thousand dollars to his daughters, and to his

brothers, three thousand dollars, plus a tan-yard and seven thousand

dollars in real estate. The Duke and Dauphin privately count the money,

adding four-hundred fifteen dollars of their own money when the stash comes

up short of the letter's six-thousand, for appearances. They then give it

all to the Wilks women in a great show before a crowd of townspeople.

Doctor Abner Shackleford, an old friend of the deceased, interrupts to

declare them frauds, their accents ridiculously phony. He asks Mary Jane,

the oldest Wilks sister, to listen to him as a friend and turn the

impostors out. In reply, she hands the Dauphin the six thousand dollars to

invest however he sees fit.

Chapters 26-28 Summary

Huck has supper with Joanna, a Wilks sister he refers to as "the

Harelip" ("Cleft lip," a birth defect she possesses). She cross-examines

Huckleberry on his knowledge of England. He makes several slips, forgetting

he is supposedly from Shefield, and that the Dauphin is supposed to be a

Protestant minister.

Finally she asks whether he hasn't made the entire thing up. Mary Jane

and Susan interrupt and instruct Joanna to be courteous to their guest. She

graciously apologizes. Huck feels awful about letting such sweet women be

swindled. He resolves to get them their money. He goes to the Duke and

Dauphin's room to search for the money, but hides when they enter. The Duke

wants to leave that very night, but the Dauphin convinces him to stay until

they have stolen all the family's property. After they leave, Huckleberry

takes the gold to his sleeping cubby, and then sneaks out late at night.

Huck hides the sack of money in Wilks' coffn in Chapter Twenty-seven,

as Mary Jane, crying, enters the front room. Huck doesn't get another

opportunity to safely remove the money, and feels dejected that the Duke

and Dauphin will likely get it back. The funeral the next day is briefly

interrupted by the racket the dog is making down cellar. The undertaker

slips out, and after a "whack" is heard from downstairs, the undertaker

returns, whispering loudly to the preacher, "He had a rat!" Huck remarks

how the rightfully popular undertaker satisfied the people's natural


Huck observes with horror as the undertaker seals the coffn without

looking inside. Now he will never know whether the money was stolen from

the coffn, or if he should write Mary Jane to dig up the coffn for it.

Saying he will take the Wilks' family to England, the Dauphin sells off

the estate and the slaves. He sends a mother to New Orleans and her two

sons to Memphis. The scene at the grief-stricken family's separation is

heart-rending. But Huck comforts himself that they will be reunited in a

week or so when the Duke and Dauphin are exposed. When questioned by the

Duke and Dauphin, Huck blames the loss of the six thousand dollars on the

slaves they just sold, making the two regret the deed.

Huck finds Mary Jane crying in her bedroom in Chapter Twenty-eight. All

joy regarding the trip to England has been destroyed by the thought of the

slave mother and children never seeing each other again. Touched, Huck

unthinkingly blurts out that the family will be reunited in less than two

weeks. Mary Jane, overjoyed, asks Huck to explain. Huck is uneasy, having

little experience telling the truth while in a predicament. He tells Mary

Jane the truth, but asks her to wait at a relative's house until eleven

that night to give him time to get away, since the fate of another person

hangs in the balance. He tells her about the Royal Nonesuch incident,

saying that town will provide witnesses against the frauds. He instructs

her to leave without seeing her "uncles," since her innocent face would

give away their secret. He leaves her a note with the location of the

money. She promises to remember him forever, and pray for him. Though Huck

will never see her again, he will think of her often. Huck meets Susan and

Joanna, and says Mary Jane has gone to see a sick relative. Joanna cross-

examines him about this, but he manages to trick them into staying quiet

about the whole thing{almost as well as Tom Sawyer would have. But later,

the auction is interrupted by a mob{ bringing the real Harvey and William


Chapters 29-31 Summary

The real Harvey, in an authentic English accent, explains the delay:

their luggage has been misdirected, and his brother's arm has been broken,

making him unable to sign. The doctor again declares The Duke and Dauphin

frauds, and has the crowd bring both real and fraudulent Wilks brothers to

a tavern for examination. The frauds draw suspicion when they are unable to

produce the six thousand dollars. A lawyer friend of the deceased has the

Duke, Dauphin, and the real Harvey sign a piece of paper, then compares the

writing samples to letters he has from the real Harvey.

The frauds are disproved, but the Dauphin doesn't give up. So the real

Harvey declares he knows of a tattoo on his brother's chest, asking the

undertaker who dressed the body to back him up. But after the Dauphin and

Harvey say what they think the tattoo is, the undertaker declares there

wasn't one at all. The mob cries out for the blood of all four men, but the

lawyer instead sends them out to exhume the body and check for the tattoo

themselves. The mob carries the four and Huckleberry with them. The mob is

shocked to discover the gold in the coffn. In the excitement, Huck escapes.

Passing the Wilks's house, he notices a light in the upstairs window.

Huck steals a canoe and makes his way to the raft, and, exhausted,

shoves off. Huck dances for joy on the raft, but his heart sinks as the

Duke and Dauphin approach in a boat.

The Dauphin nearly strangles Huck in Chapter Thirty, out of anger at

his desertion. But the Duke stops him. They explain that they escaped after

the gold was found. The thieves start arguing about which one of the two

hid the gold in the coffn, to come back for later. But they make up and go

to sleep.

They take the raft downstream without stopping for several days. The

Duke and Dauphin try several scams on various towns, without success. The

two start to have secret discussions, worrying Jim and Huck, who resolve to

ditch them at the first opportunity. Finally, the Duke, Dauphin, and Huck

go ashore in one town to feel it out. The Duke and Dauphin get into a fight

in a tavern, and Huck takes the chance to escape. But back at the raft,

there is no sign of Jim. A boy explains that a man recognized Jim as a

runaway from a handbill they had found, offering two hundred dollars for

him in New Orleans{the handbill the Duke had printed earlier. But he said

he had to leave suddenly, and so sold his interest for forty dollars. Huck

is disgusted by the Dauphin's trick. He would like to write to Miss Watson

to fetch Jim, so he could at least be home and not in New Orleans. But he

realizes she would simply sell him downstream anyway, and he would get in

trouble as well. The predicament is surely God's punishment for his helping

Jim. Huck tries to pray for forgiveness, but cannot.

He writes the letter to Miss Watson giving Jim up. But thinking of the

time he spent with Jim, of his kind heart and their friendship, Huck

trembles. After a minute he decides, "All right then, I'll go to hell!" He

resolves to "steal Jim out of slavery." He goes in his store-bought clothes

to see Phelps, the man who is holding Jim. He finds the Duke putting up

posters for the Royal Nonesuch. Huck concocts a story about how he wandered

the town, but didn't find Jim or the raft. The Duke says he sold Jim to a

man forty miles away, and sends Huck on the three day trip to get him.

Chapters 32-35 Summary

Huck goes back to the Phelps's house in Chapter Thirty-two. A bunch of

hounds threaten him, but a slave woman calls them off. The white mistress

of the house, Sally, comes out, delighted to see the boy she is certain is

her nephew, Tom. Sally asks why he has been delayed the last several days.

He explains that a cylinder- head on the steamboat blew out. She asks

whether anyone got hurt, and he replies no, but it killed a black person.

The woman is relieved that no one was hurt. Huck is nervous about not

having any information on his identity, but when Sally's husband, Silas,

returns, he shouts out for joy that Tom Sawyer has finally arrived! Hearing

a steamboat go up the river, Huck heads out to the docks, supposedly to get

his luggage, but really to head off Tom should he arrive.

Huck interrupts Tom's wagon coming down the road in Chapter Thirty-

three. Tom is at first startled by the "ghost," but is eventually convinced

that Huck is alive. He even agrees to help Huck free Jim. Huck is shocked

by this: "Tom Sawyer fell, considerable, in my estimation." Tom follows

Huck to the Phelps's a half hour later. The isolated family is thrilled to

have another guest. Tom introduces himself as William Thompson from Ohio,

stopping on his way to visit his uncle nearby. But Tom slips and kisses his

aunt, who is outraged by such familiarity from a stranger. Taken aback for

a few moments, Tom recovers by saying he is another relative, Sid Sawyer,

and this has all been a joke. Later, walking through town, Huck sees the

Duke and Dauphin taken by a mob, tarred and feathered on a rail. Jim had

told on the pair. Tom feels bad for the two, and his ill feelings toward

them melt away. "Human beings can be awful cruel to one another," Huck


Huck concludes that a conscience is useless, since it makes you feel

bad for everyone. Tom agrees. Huck is impressed by Tom's intelligence when

he skillfully figures out that Jim is being held in a shed. Huck's plan to

free Jim is to steal the key and make off with Jim by night. Tom belittles

this plan for its simplicity and lack of showmanship. Tom's plan is fifteen

times better than Huck's for its style{it might even get all three killed.

Meanwhile, Huck is incredulous that respectable Tom is going to sacrifice

his reputation by helping a slave escape.

Huck and Tom get Jim's keeper, a superstitious slave, to let them see

him. When Jim cries out for joy, Tom tricks Jim's keeper into thinking the

cry a trick some witches had played on him. Tom and Huck promise to dig Jim


Tom is upset in Chapter Thirty-five. Innocent uncle Phelps has taken so

few precautions to guard Jim, they have to invent all the obstacles to his

rescue. Tom says they must saw Jim's chain off instead of just lifting it

off the bedstead, since that's how it's done in all the books. Similarly,

Jim requires a rope ladder, a moat, and a shirt on which to keep a journal,

presumably in his own blood. Sawing his leg off to escape would also be a

nice touch. But since they're pressed for time, they will dig Jim out with

case-knives (large kitchen knives).

Chapters 36-39 Summary

Out late at night, Huck and Tom give up digging with the case-knives

after much fruitless efiort. They use pick-axes instead, but agree to "let

on"{pretend{that they are using case-knives. The next day, Tom and Huck

gather candlesticks, candles, spoons, and a tin plate. Jim can etch a

declaration of his captivity on the tin plate using the other objects, then

throw it out the window to be read by the world, like in the novels. That

night, the two boys dig their way to Jim, who is delighted to see them. He

tells them that Sally and Silas have been to visit and pray with him. He

doesn't understand the boys' scheme but agrees to go along. Tom thinks the

whole thing enormously fun and "intellectural." He tricks Jim's keeper,

Nat, into bringing Jim a "witch pie" to help ward off the witches that have

haunted Nat.

The missing shirt, candles, sheets, and other articles Huck and Tom

stole to give Jim get Aunt Sally mad at everyone but the two boys in

Chapter Thirty-seven. To make up, Huck and Tom secretly plug up the holes

of the rats that have supposedly stolen everything, confounding Uncle Silas

when he goes to do the job. By removing and then replacing sheets and

spoons, the two boys so confuse Sally that she loses track of how many she

has. It takes a great deal of trouble to put the rope ladder (made of

sheets) in the witch's pie, but at last it is finished and they give it to

Jim. Tom insists Jim scratch an inscription on the wall of the shed, with

his coat of arms, the way the books say. Making the pens from the spoons

and candlestick is a great deal of trouble, but they manage. Tom creates an

unintentionally humorous coat of arms and set of mournful declarations for

Jim to inscribe on the wall. When Tom disapproves of writing on a wooden,

rather than a stone wall, they go steal a millstone. Tom then tries to get

Jim to take a rattlesnake or rat into the shack to tame, and to grow a ower

to water with his tears. Jim protests against the ridiculously unnecessary

amount of trouble Tom wants to create. Tom replies that these are

opportunities for greatness.

Huck and Tom capture rats and snakes in Chapter Thirty-nine,

accidentally infesting the Phelps house with them. Aunt Sally becomes

wildly upset when the snakes start to fall from the rafters onto her or her

bed. Tom explains that that's just how women are. Jim, meanwhile, hardly

has room to move with all the wildlife in his shed. Uncle Silas decides it

is time to sell Jim, and starts sending out advertisements. So Tom writes

letters, signed an "unknown friend," to the Phelps warning of trouble. The

family is terrified. Tom finishes with a longer letter pretending to be

from a member of a band of desperate gangsters out to steal Jim. The author

has found religion and so is warning them to block the plan.

Chapters 40-43 Summary

Fifteen uneasy local men with guns are in the Phelps's front room. Huck

goes to the shed to warn Tom and Jim. Tom is excited to hear about the

fifteen armed men. A group of men rush into the shed. In the darkness Tom,

Huck, and Jim escape through the hole. Tom makes a noise going over the

fence, attracting the attention of the men, who shoot at them as they run.

But they make it to the hidden raft, and set off downstream, delighted with

their success{especially Tom, who has a bullet in the leg as a souvenir.

Huck and Jim are taken aback by Tom's wound. Jim says they should get a

doctor{what Tom would do if the situation were reversed. Jim's reaction

confirms Huck's belief that Jim is "white inside."

Huck finds a doctor in Chapter Forty-one and sends him to Tom. The next

morning, Huck runs into Silas, who takes him home. The place is filled with

farmers and their wives, all discussing the weird contents of Jim's shed,

and the hole. They conclude a band of (probably black) robbers of amazing

skill must have tricked not only the Phelps and their friends, but the

original band of desperadoes. Sally will not let Huck out to find Tom,

since she is so sad to have lost Tom and does not want to risk another boy.

Huckleberry is touched by her concern and vows never to hurt her again.

Silas has been unable to find Tom in Chapter Forty- two. They have

gotten a letter from Tom's Aunt Polly, Sally's sister. But Sally casts it

aside when she sees Tom, semi-conscious, brought in on a mattress,

accompanied by a crowd including Jim, in chains, and the doctor. Some of

the local men would like to hang Jim, but are unwilling to risk having to

compensate Jim's master. So they treat Jim roughly, and chain him hand and

foot inside the shed. The doctor intervenes, saying Jim isn't bad, since he

sacrificed his freedom to help nurse Tom. Sally, meanwhile, is at Tom's

bedside, glad that his condition has improved. Tom wakes and gleefully

details how they set Jim free. He is horrified to learn that Jim is now in

chains. He explains that Jim was freed in Miss Watson's will when she died

two months ago.

She regretted ever having considered selling Jim down the river. Just

then, Aunt Polly walks into the room. She came after Sally mysteriously

wrote her that Sid Sawyer was staying with her. After a tearful reunion

with Sally, she identifies Tom and Huckleberry, yelling at both boys for

their misadventures. When Huckleberry asks Tom in the last chapter what he

planned to do once he had freed the already- freed Jim, Tom replies that he

was going to repay Jim for his troubles and send him back a hero. When Aunt

Polly and the Phelps hear how Jim helped the doctor, they treat him much


Tom gives Jim forty dollars for his troubles. Jim declares that the

omen of his hairy chest has come true. Tom makes a full recovery, and has

the bullet inserted into a watch he wears around his neck. He and Huck

would like to go on another adventure, to Indian Territory (present-day

Oklahoma). But Huck worries Pap has taken all his money. Jim tells him that

couldn't have happened: the dead body they found way back on the houseboat,

that Jim would not let Huck see, belonged to Pap. Huck has nothing more to

write about. He is "rotten glad," since writing a book turned out to be

quite a task. He does not plan any future writings. Instead, he hopes to

make the trip out to Indian Territory, since Aunt Sally is already trying

to "sivilize" him, and he's had enough of that.


Robert Penn Warren was one of the twentieth century's outstanding men

of letters. He found great success as a novelist, a poet, a critic, and a

scholar, and enjoyed a career showered with acclaim. He won two Pulitzer

Prizes, was Poet Laureate of the United States, and was presented with a

Congressional Medal of Fr edom. He founded the Southern Review and was an

important contributor to the New Criticism of 1930s and '40s.

Born in 1905, Warren showed his exceptional intelligence from an early

age; he attended college at Vanderbilt University, where he befriended some

of the most important contemporary figures in Southern literature,

including Allan Tate and John Crowe Ransom, and where he won a Rhodes

Scholarship to study at Oxford University in England. During a stay in

Italy, Warren wrote a verse drama called Proud Flesh,which dealt with

themes of political power and moral corruption. As a professor at Louisiana

State University, Warren had observed the rise of Louisiana political boss

Huey Long, who embodied, in many ways, the ideas Warren tried to work into

Proud Flesh. Unsatisfied with the result, Warren began to rework his

elaborate drama into a novel, set in the contemporary South, and based in

part on the person of Huey Long.

The result was All the King'sMen, Warren's best and most acclaimed

book. First published in 1946, Allthe King's Men is one of the best

literary documents dealing with the American South during the Great

Depression. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize, and was adapted into a movie

that won an Academy Award in 1949.

All the King's Men focuses on the lives of Willie Stark, an upstart

farm boy who rises through sheer force of will to become Governor of an

unnamed Southern state during the 1930s, and Jack Burden, the novel's

narrator, a cynical scion of the state's political aristocracy who uses his

abilities as a historical researcher to help Willie blackmail and control

his enemies.

The novel deals with the large question of the responsibility

individuals bear for their actions within the turmoil of history, and it is

perhaps appropriate that the impetus of the novel's story comes partly from

real historical occurrences.

Jack Burden is entirely a creation of Robert Penn Warren, but there

are a number of important parallels between Willie Stark and Huey Long, who

served Louisiana as both Governor and Senator from 1928 until his death in


Like Huey Long, Willie Stark is an uneducated farm boy who passed the

state bar exam; like Huey Long, he rises to political power in his state by

instituting liberal reform designed to help the state's poor farmers. And

like Huey Long, Willie is assassinated at the peak of his power by a doctor

Dr. Adam Stanton in Willie's case, Dr. Carl A. Weiss in Long's. (Unlike

Willie, however, Long was assassinated after becoming a Senator, and was in

fact in the middle of challenging Franklin D. Roosevelt for the

Presidential nomination of the Democratic Party.)


Jack Burden -- Willie Stark's political right-hand man, the narrator

of the novel and in many ways its protagonist. Jack comes from a prominent

family (the town he grew up in, Burden's Landing, was named for his

ancestors), and knows many of the most important people in the state.

Despite his aristocratic background, Jack allies himself with the

liberal, amoral Governor Stark, to the displeasure of his family and

friends. He uses his considerable skills as a researcher to uncover the

secrets of Willie's political enemies. Jack was once married to Lois

Seager, but has left her by the time of the novel. Jack's main

characteristics are his intelligence and his curious lack of ambition; he

seems to have no agency of his own, and for the most part he is content to

take his direction from Willie. Jack is also continually troubled by the

question of motive and responsibility in history: he quit working on his

PhD thesis in history when he decided he could not comprehend Cass

Mastern's motives. He develops the Great Twitch theory to convince himself

that no one can be held responsible for anything that happens. During the

course of the novel, however, Jack rejects the Great Twitch theory and

accepts the idea of responsibility.

Willie Stark -- Jack Burden's boss, who rises from poverty to become

the governor of his state and its most powerful political figure. Willie

takes control of the state through a combination of political reform (he

institutes sweeping liberal measures designed to tax the rich and ease the

burden on the state's many poor farmers) and underhanded guile (he

blackmails and bullies his enemies into submission). While Jack is

intelligent and inactive, Willie is essentially all motive power and

direction. The extent of his moral philosophy is his belief that everyone

and everything is bad, and that moral action involves making goodness out

of the badness.

Willie is married to Lucy Stark, with whom he has a son, Tom. But his

voracious sexual appetite leads him into a number of afiairs, including one

with Sadie Burke and one with Anne Stanton. Willie is murdered by Adam

Stanton toward the end of the novel.

Anne Stanton -- Jack Burden's first love, Adam Stanton's sister, and,

for a time, Willie Stark's mistress. The daughter of Governor Stanton, Anne

is raised to believe in a strict moral code, a belief which is threatened

and nearly shattered when Jack shows her proof of her father's wrongdoing.

Adam Stanton -- A brilliant surgeon and Jack Burden's closest

childhood friend. Anne Stanton's brother. Jack persuades Adam to put aside

his moral reservations about Willie and become director of the new hospital

Willie is building, and Adam later cares for Tom Stark after his injury.

But two revelations combine to shatter Adam's worldview: he learns that his

father illegally protected Judge Irwin after he took a bribe, and he learns

that his sister has become Willie Stark's lover. Driven mad with the

knowledge, Adam assassinates Willie in the lobby of the Capitol towards the

end of the novel.

Judge Montague Irwin -- A prominent citizen of Burden's Landing and a

former state Attorney General; also a friend to the Scholarly Attorney and

a father figure to Jack. When Judge Irwin supports one of Willie's

political enemies in a Senate election, Willie orders Jack to dig up some

information on the judge. Jack discovers that his old friend accepted a

bribe from the American Electric Power Company in 1913 to save his

plantation. (In return for the money, the judge dismissed a case against

the Southern Belle Fuel Company, a sister corporation to American

Electric.) When he confronts the judge with this information, the judge

commits suicide; when Jack learns of the suicide from his mother, he also

learns that Judge Irwin was his real father.

Sadie Burke -- Willie Stark's secretary, and also his mistress. Sadie

has been with Willie from the beginning, and believes that she made him

what he is. Despite the fact that he is a married man, she becomes

extremely jealous of his relationships with other women, and they often

have long, passionate fights. Sadie is tough, cynical, and extremely

vulnerable; when Willie announces that he is leaving her to go back to

Lucy, she tells Tiny Dufiy in a fit of rage that Willie is sleeping with

Anne Stanton. Tiny tells Adam Stanton, who assassinates Willie. Believing

herself to be responsible for Willie's death, Sadie checks into a

sanitarium. .

Tiny Dufiy -- Lieutenant-Governor of the state when Willie is

assassinated. Fat, obsequious, and untrustworthy, Tiny swallows Willie's

abuse and con- tempt for years, but finally tells Adam Stanton that Willie

is sleeping with Anne. When Adam murders Willie, Tiny becomes Governor.

Sugar-Boy O'Sheean -- Willie Stark's driver, and also his bodyguard--

Sugar-Boy is a crack shot with a .38 special and a brilliant driver. A

stuttering Irishman, Sugar-Boy follows Willie blindly.

Lucy Stark -- Willie's long-sufiering wife, who is constantly

disappointed by her husband's failure to live up to her moral standards.

Lucy eventually leaves Willie to live at her sister's poultry farm. They

are in the process of reconciling when Willie is murdered.

Tom Stark -- Willie's arrogant, hedonistic son, a football star for

the state university. Tom lives a life of drunkenness and promiscuity

before he breaks his neck in a football accident. Permanently paralyzed, he

dies of pneumonia shortly thereafter. Tom is accused of impregnating Sibyl

Frey, whose child is adopted by Lucy at the end of the novel.

Jack's mother -- A beautiful, "famished-cheeked" woman from Arkansas,

Jack's mother is brought back to Burden's Landing by the Scholarly

Attorney, but falls in love with Judge Irwin and begins an afiair with him;

Jack is a product of that afiair. After the Scholarly Attorney leaves her,

she marries a succession of men (the Tycoon, the Count, the Young

Executive). Jack's realization that she is capable of love--and that she

really loved Judge Irwin-- helps him put aside his cynicism at the end of

the novel.

Sam MacMurfee -- Willie's main political enemy within the state's

Democratic Party, and governor before Willie. After Willie crushes him in

the gubernatorial election, MacMurfee continues to control the Fourth

District, from which he plots ways to claw his way back into power.

Ellis Burden -- The man whom Jack believes to be his father for most

of the book, before learning his real father is Judge Irwin. After

discovering his wife's afiair with the judge, the "Scholarly Attorney" (as

Jack characterizes him) leaves her. He moves to the state capital where he

attempts to conduct a Christian ministry for the poor and the unfortunate.

Theodore Murrell -- The "Young Executive," as Jack characterizes him;

Jack's mother's husband for most of the novel.

Governor Joel Stanton -- Adam and Anne's father, governor of the state

when Judge Irwin was Attorney General. Protects the judge after he takes

the bribe to save his plantation.

Hugh Miller -- Willie Stark's Attorney General, an honorable man who

resigns following the Byram White scandal.

Joe Harrison -- Governor of the state who sets Willie up as a dummy

candidate to split the MacMurfee vote, and thereby enables Willie's

entrance onto the political stage. When Willie learns how Harrison has

treated him, he withdraws from the race and campaigns for MacMurfee, who

wins the election. By the time Willie crushes MacMurfee in the next

election, Harrison's days of political clout are over.

Mortimer L. Littlepaugh -- The man who preceded Judge Irwin as counsel

for the American Electric Power Company in the early 1900s. When Judge

Irwin took Littlepaugh's job as part of the bribe, Littlepaugh confronted

Governor Stanton about the judge's illegal activity. When the governor

protected the judge, Littlepaugh committed suicide.

Miss Lily Mae Littlepaugh -- Mortimer Littlepaugh's sister, an old

spiritual medium who sells her brother's suicide note to Jack, giving him

the proof he needs about Judge Irwin and the bribe.

Gummy Larson -- MacMurfee's most powerful supporter, a wealthy

businessman. Willie is forced to give Larson the building contract to the

hospital so that Larson will call MacMurfee off about the Sibyl Frey

controversy, and thereby preserve Willie's chance to go to the Senate.

Lois Seager -- Jack's sexy first wife, whom he leaves when he begins


perceive her as a person rather than simply as a machine for gratifying his


Byram B. White -- The State Auditor during Willie's first term as

governor. His acceptance of graft money propels a scandal that eventually

leads to an impeachment attempt against Willie. Willie protects White and

blackmails his enemies into submission, a decision which leads to his

estrangement from Lucy and the resignation of Hugh Miller.

Hubert Coffee -- A slimy MacMurfee employee who tries to bribe Adam

Stanton into giving the hospital contract to Gummy Larson.

Sibyl Frey -- A young girl who accuses Tom Stark of having gotten her

pregnant; Tom alleges that Sibyl has slept with so many men, she could not

possibly know he was the father of her child. Marvin Frey -- Sibyl Frey's

father, who threatens Willie with a paternity suit. (He is being used by


Cass Mastern -- The brother of Jack's grandmother. During the middle

of the nineteenth century, Cass had an afiair with Annabelle Trice, the

wife of his friend Duncan. After Duncan's suicide, Annabelle sold a slave,

Phebe; Cass tried to track down Phebe, but failed. He became an

abolitionist, but fought in the Confederate Army during the Civil War,

during which he was killed. Jack tries to use his papers as the basis of

his Ph.D. dissertation, but walked away from the project when he was unable

to understand Cass Mastern's motivations.

Gilbert Mastern -- Cass Mastern's wealthy brother.

Annabelle Trice -- Cass Mastern's lover, the wife of Duncan Trice.

When the slave Phebe brings her Duncan's wedding ring following his

suicide, Annabelle says that she cannot bear the way Phebe looked at her,

and sells her.

Duncan Trice -- Cass Mastern's hedonistic friend in Lexington,

Annabelle Trice's husband. When he learns that Cass has had an afiair with

Annabelle, Duncan takes off his wedding ring and shoots himself.

Phebe -- The slave who brings Annabelle Trice her husband's wedding

ring following his suicide. As a result, Annabelle sells her.


All the King's Men is the story of the rise and fall of a political titan

in the Deep South during the 1930s. Willie Stark rises from hardscrabble

poverty to become governor of his state and its most powerful political

figure; he blackmails and bullies his enemies into submission, and

institutes a radical series of liberal reforms designed to tax the rich and

ease the burden of the state's poor farmers. He is beset with enemies--most

notably Sam MacMurfee, a defeated former governor who constantly searches

for ways to undermine Willie's power--and surrounded by a rough mix of

political allies and hired thugs, from the bodyguard Sugar-Boy O'Sheean to

the fat, obsequious Tiny Dufiy.

All the King's Men is also the story of Jack Burden, the scion of one

of the state's aristocratic dynasties, who turns his back on his genteel

upbringing and becomes Willie Stark's right-hand man. Jack uses his

considerable talents as a historical researcher to dig up the unpleasant

secrets of Willie's enemies, which are then used for purposes of blackmail.

Cynical and lacking in ambition, Jack has walked away from many of his past

interests--he left his dissertation in American History unfinished, and

never managed to marry his first love, Anne Stanton, the daughter of a

former governor of the state.

When Willie asks Jack to look for skeletons in the closet of Judge

Irwin, a father figure from Jack's childhood, Jack is forced to confront

his ideas concerning consequence, responsibility, and motivation. He

discovers that Judge Irwin accepted a bribe, and that Governor Stanton

covered it up; the resulting blackmail attempt leads to Judge Irwin's

suicide. It also leads to Adam Stanton's decision to accept the position of

director of the new hospital Willie is building, and leads Anne to begin an

afiair with Willie.

When Adam learns of the afiair, he murders Willie in a rage, and Jack

leaves politics forever. Willie's death and the circumstances in which it

occurs force Jack to rethink his desperate belief that no individual can

ever be responsible for the consequences of any action within the chaos and

tumult of history and time. Jack marries Anne Stanton and begins working on

a book about Cass Mastern, the man whose papers he had once tried to use as

the source for his failed dissertation in American History.

Chapter 1


Jack Burden describes driving down Highway 58 with his boss, Governor

Willie Stark, in the Boss's big black Cadillac--Sugar-Boy is driving, and

in the car with them were the Boss's wife Lucy, son Tommy, and the

Lieutenant Governor, Tiny Dufiy. Sugar-Boy drives them into Mason City,

where Willie is going to pose for a press photo with his father, who lives

on a nearby farm. The Cadillac is followed by a car full of press men and

photographers, overseen by Willie's secretary, Sadie Burke. It is summer,

1936, and scorching hot outside.

In Mason City, Willie immediately attracts an adoring throng of

people. The group goes inside the drugstore, where Doc pours them glasses

of Coke. The crowd pressures Willie for a speech, but he declines, saying

he's just come to see his "pappy". He then delivers an efiective impromptu

speech on the theme of not delivering a speech, saying he doesn't have to

stump for votes on his day off. The crowd applauds, and the group drives

out to the Stark farm.

On the way, Jack remembers his first meeting with Willie, in 1922,

when Jack was a reporter for the Chronicle and Willie was only the County

Treasurer of Mason County. Jack had gone to the back room of Slade's pool

hall to get some information from deputy-sherifi Alex Michel and Tiny Dufiy

(then the Tax Assessor, and an ally of then-Governor Harrison). While he

was there, Dufiy tried to bully Willie into drinking a beer, which Willie

claimed not to want, instead ordering an orange soda. Dufiy ordered Slade

to bring Willie a beer, and Slade said that he only served alcohol to men

who wanted to drink it. He brought Willie the orange soda. When Prohibition

was repealed after Willie's rise to power, Slade was one of the first men

to get a liquor license; he got a lease at an exceptional location, and was

now a rich man.

At the farm, Willie and Lucy pose for a picture with spindly Old Man

Stark and his dog. Then the photographers have Willie pose for a picture in

his old bedroom, which still contains all his schoolbooks. Toward sunset,

Sugar-Boy is out shooting cans with his .38 special, and Jack goes outside

for a drink from his ask and a look at the sunset. As he leans against the

fence, Willie approaches him and asks for a drink. Then Sadie Burke runs up

to them with a piece of news, which she reveals only after Willie stops

teasing her: Judge Irwin has just endorsed Callahan, a Senate candidate

running against Willie's man, Masters.

After dinner at the Stark farm, Willie announces that he, Jack, and Sugar-

Boy will be going for a drive. He orders Sugar-Boy to drive the Cadillac to

Burden's Landing, more than a hundred miles away. Jack grew up in Burden's

Landing, which was named for his ancestors, and he complains about the long

drive this late at night. As they approach Jack's old house, he thinks

about his mother lying inside with Theodore Murrell--not Jack's first

stepfather. And he thinks about Anne and Adam Stanton, who lived nearby and

used to play with him as a child. He also thinks about Judge Irwin, who

lives near the Stanton and Burden places, and who was a father figure to

Jack after his own father left. Jack tells Willie that Judge Irwin won't

scare easily, and inwardly hopes that what he says is true.

The three men arrive at Judge Irwin's, where Willie speaks insouciantly and

insolently to the gentlemanly old judge. Judge Irwin insults Jack for being

employed by such a man, and tells Willie that he endorsed Callahan because

of some damning information he had been given about Masters. Willie says

that it would be possible to find dirt on anyone, and advises the judge to

retract his endorsement, lest some dirt should turn up on him. He heavily

implies that Judge Irwin would lose his position as a judge. Judge Irwin

angrily throws the men out of his house, and on the drive back to Mason

City, Willie orders Jack to find some dirt on the judge, and to "make it


Writing in 1939, three years after that scene, Jack re ects that Masters--

who did get elected to the Senate--is now dead, and Adam Stanton is dead,

and Judge Irwin is dead, and Willie himself is dead: Willie, who told Jack

to find some dirt on Judge Irwin and make it stick. And Jack remembers:

"Little Jackie made it stick, all right."

Chapter 2 Summary

Jack Burden remembers the years during which Willie Stark rose to power.

While Willie was Mason County Treasurer, he became embroiled in a

controversy over the building contract for the new school. The head of the

city council awarded the contract to the business partner of one of his

relatives, no doubt receiving a healthy kickback for doing so. The

political machine attempted to run this contract over Willie, but Willie

insisted that the contract be awarded to the lowest bidder. The local big-

shots responded by spreading the story that the lowest bidder would import

black labor to construct the building, and, Mason County being redneck

country, the people sided against Willie, who was trounced in the next

election. Jack Burden covered all this in the Chronicle, which sided with


After he was beaten out of offce, Willie worked on his father's farm, hit

the law books at night, and eventually passed the state bar exam. He set up

his own law practice. Then one day during a fire drill at the new school, a

fire escape collapsed due to faulty construction and three students died.

At the funeral, one of the bereaved fathers stood by Willie and cried aloud

that he had been punished for voting against an honest man. After that,

Willie was a local hero. During the next gubernatorial election, in which

Harrison ran against MacMurfee, the vote was pretty evenly divided between

city-dwellers, who supported Harrison, and country folk, who supported

MacMurfee. The Harrison camp decided to split the MacMurfee vote by

secretly setting up another candidate who could draw some of MacMurfee's

support in the country. They settled on Willie. One day Harrison's man,

Tiny Dufiy, visited Willie in Mason City and convinced him that he was

God's choice to run for governor.

Willie wanted the offce desperately, and so he believed him.Willie stumped

the state, and Jack Burden covered his campaign for the Chronicle. Willie

was a terrible candidate. His speeches were full of facts and figures; he

never stirred the emotions of the crowd. Eventually Sadie Burke, who was

with the Harrison camp and followed Willie's campaign, revealed to Willie

that he had been set up. Enraged, Willie gulped down a whole bottle of

whiskey and passed out in Jack Burden's room. The next day, he struggled to

make it to his campaign barbecue in the city of Upton. To help Willie

overcome his hangover, Jack had to fill him full of whiskey again. At the

barbecue, the furious, drunken Willie gave the crowd a fire-and-brimstone

speech in which he declared that he had been set up, that he was just a

hick like everyone else in the crowd, and that he was withdrawing from the

race to support MacMurfee. But if MacMurfee didn't deliver for the little

people, Willie admonished the hearers to nail him to the door. Willie said

that if they passed him the hammer he'd nail him to the door himself. Tiny

Dufiy tried to stop the speech, but fell off the stage.

Willie stumped for MacMurfee, who won the election. Afterwards, Willie

returned to his law practice, at which he made a great deal of money and

won some high- proffle cases. Jack didn't see Willie again until the next

election, when the political battlefield had changed: Willie now owned the

Democratic Party. Jack quit his job at the Chronicle because the paper was

forcing him to support MacMurfee in his column, and slumped into a

depression. He spent all his time sleeping and piddling around--he called

the period "the Great Sleep," and said it had happened twice before, once

just before he walked away from his doctoral dissertation in American

History, and once after Lois divorced him. During the Great Sleep Jack

occasionally visited Adam Stanton, took Anne Stanton to dinner a few times,

and visited his father, who now spent all his time handing out religious

iers. At some point during this time Willie was elected governor.

One morning Jack received a phone call from Sadie Burke, saying that the

Boss wanted to see him the next morning at ten. Jack asked who the Boss

was, and she replied, "Willie Stark, Governor Stark, or don't you read the

papers?" Jack went to see Willie, who offered him a job for $3,600 a year.

Jack asked Willie who he would be working for--Willie or the state.

Willie said he would be working for him, not the state. Jack wondered how

Willie could afiord to pay him $3,600 a year when the governorship only

paid $5,000. But then he remembered the money Willie had made as a lawyer.

He accepted the job, and the next night he went to have dinner at the

Governor's mansion.

Chapter 3 Summary

Jack Burden tells about going home to Burden's Landing to visit his mother,

some time in 1933. His mother disapproves of his working for Willie, and

Theodore Murrell (his mother's husband, whom Jack thinks of as "the Young

Executive") irritates him with his questions about politics. Jack remembers

being happy in the family's mansion until he was six years old, when his

father ("the Scholarly Attorney") left home to distribute religious

pamphlets, and Jack's mother told him he had gone because he didn't love

her anymore. She then married a succession of men: the Tycoon, the Count,

and finally the Young Executive. Jack remembers picnicking with Adam and

Anne Stanton, and swimming with Anne. He remembers arguing with his mother

in 1915 over his decision to go to the State University instead of to


That night in 1933, Jack, his mother, and the Young Executive go to Judge

Irwin's for a dinner party; the assembled aristocrats talk politics, and

are staunchly opposed to Willie Stark's liberal reforms. Jack is forced to

entertain the pretty young Miss Dumonde, who irritates him. When he drives

back to Willie's hotel, he kisses Sadie Burke on the forehead, simply

because she isn't named Dumonde. On the drive back, Jack thinks about his

parents in their youth, when his father brought his mother to Burden's

Landing from her home in Arkansas. In Willie's room, hell is breaking

loose: MacMurfee's men in the Legislature are mounting an impeachment

attempt on Byram B. White, the state auditor, who has been involved in a

graft scandal. Willie humiliates and insults White, but decides to protect

him. This decision causes Hugh Miller, Willie's Attorney General, to resign

from offce, and nearly provokes Lucy into leaving Willie. Willie orders

Jack to dig up dirt on MacMurfee's men in the Legislature, and he begins

frenetically stumping the state, giving speeches during the day and

intimidating and blackmailing MacMurfee's men at night. Stunned by his

aggressive activity, MacMurfee's men attempt to seize the offensive by

impeaching Willie himself. But the blackmailing efiorts work, and the

impeachment is called off before the vote can be taken. Still, the day of

the impeachment, a huge crowd descends on the capital in support of Willie.

Willie tells Jack that after the impeachment he is going to build a

massive, state-of-the-art hospital; Willie wins his next election by a


During all this time, Jack re ects on Willie's sexual conquests--he has

begun a long-term afiair with Sadie Burke, who is fiercely jealous of his

other mistresses, but Lucy seems to know nothing about it. Lucy does

eventually leave Willie, spending time in St. Augustine and then at her

sister's poultry farm, but they keep up the appearance of marriage. Jack

speculates that Lucy does not sever all her ties with Willie for Tommy's

sake, though teen-aged Tommy has become an arrogant football star with a

string of sexual exploits of his own.

Chapter 4 Summary

Returning to the night in 1936 when he, Willie, and Sugar-Boy drove away

from Judge Irwin's house, Jack re ects that his inquiry into Judge Irwin's

past was really his second major historical study. He recalls his first, as

a graduate student at the State University, studying for his Ph.D. in

American History. Jack lived in a slovenly apartment with a pair of

slovenly roommates, and blew all the money his mother sent him on drinking

binges. He was writing his dissertation on the papers of Cass Mastern, his

father's uncle.

As a student at Translyvania College in the 1850s, Cass Mastern had had an

afiair with Annabelle Trice, the wife of his friend Duncan Trice. When

Duncan discovered the afiair, he took off his wedding ring and shot

himself, a suicide that was chalked up to accident. But Phebe, one of the

Trices' slaves, had found the ring, and taken it to Annabelle Trice.

Annabelle had been unable to bear the knowledge that Phebe knew about her

sin, and so she sold her. Appalled to learn that Annabelle had sold Phebe

instead of setting her free--and appalled to learn that she had separated

the slave from her husband--Cass set out to find and free Phebe; but he

failed, wounded in a fight with a man who insinuated that he had sexual

designs on Phebe.

After that, he set to farming a plantation he had obtained with the help of

his wealthy brother Gilbert. But he freed his slaves and became a devout

abolitionist. Even so, when the war started, he enlisted as a private in

the Confederate Army. Complicating matters further, though a Confederate

soldier he vowed not to kill a single enemy soldier, since he believed

himself already responsible for the death of his friend. He was killed in a

battle outside Atlanta in 1864. After leaving to find Phebe, he had never

set eyes on Annabelle Trice again.

One day Jack simply gave up working on his dissertation. He could not

understand why Cass Mastern acted the way he did, and he walked away from

the apartment without even boxing up the papers. A landlady sent them to

him, but they remained unopened as he endured a long stretch of the Great

Sleep. The papers remained in their unopened box throughout the time he

spent with his beautiful wife Lois; after he left her, they remained

unopened. The brown paper parcel yellowed, and the name "Jack

Burden,"written on top, slowly faded.

Chapter 5 Summary

In 1936, Jack mulls over the problem of finding dirt on Judge Irwin. He

thinks the judge would have been motivated by ambition, love, fear, or

money, and settles on money as the most likely reason he might have been

driven over the line. He goes to visit his father, but the Scholarly

Attorney is preoccupied taking care of an "unfortunate" named George, and

refuses to answer his "foul" questions. He visits Anne and Adam Stanton at

their father's musty old mansion, and learns from Adam that the judge was

once broke, back in 1913. But Anne tells him that the judge got out of his

financial problems by marrying a rich woman.

At some time during this period, Jack goes to one of Tommy's football games

with Willie. Tommy wins the game, and Willie says that he will be an All-

American. Tommy receives the adulation of Willie and all his cohorts, and

lives an arrogant life full of women and alcohol. Also during this time,

Jack learns from Tiny Dufiy that Willie is spending six million dollars on

the new hospital. Soon after, Anne tells Jack that she herself had lunch

with Willie, in a successful attempt to get state funding for one of her


Jack decides to investigate the judge's financial past further. Delving

into court documents and old newspapers, he discovers that the judge had

not married into money, but had taken out a mortgage on his plantation,

which he was nearly unable to pay. A sudden windfall enabled him to stop

foreclosure proceedings toward the end of his term as Attorney General

under Governor Stanton. Also, after his term he had been given a lucrative

job at American Electric Power Company. After some further digging, Jack

extracts a letter from a strange old spiritual medium named Lily Mae

Littlepaugh, from her brother George Littlepaugh, whom Judge Irwin replaced

at the power company. The letter, a suicide note, reveals that the judge

received a great deal of stock and the lucrative position at the power

company as a bribe for dismissing a court case brought against the Southern

Belle Fuel Company, which had the same parent company as American Electric


Littlepaugh says that he visited Governor Stanton to try to convince him to

bring the matter to light, but Stanton chose to protect his friend the

judge; when Miss Littlepaugh visited the governor after her brother's

suicide, he again protected the judge, and threatened Miss Littlepaugh with

prosecution for insurance fraud. After seven months of digging, Jack has

his proof.

Chapter 6 Summary

During the time Jack is investigating Judge Irwin's background, Tommy

Stark, drunk, wraps his car around a tree, severely injuring the young girl

riding with him. Her father, a trucker, raises a tremendous noise about the

accident, but he is quieted when he is reminded that truckers drive on

state highways and many truckers have state contracts. Lucy is livid about

Tommy's crash, even though Tommy is unhurt; she insists that Willie make

him stop playing football and living his rambunctious life, but Willie says

that he won't see his son turn into a sissy, and that he wants Tommy to

have fun.

Willie is, during this time, completely committed to his six-million-dollar

hospital project, and he insists, to Jack's bemusement, that it will be

completed without any illicit wheeling and dealing. Willie is furious when

Tiny Dufiy tries to convince him to give the contract to Gummy Larson, a

Mac-Murfee supporter who would throw his support to Willie if he received

the building contract. (He would also throw a substantial sum of money to

Tiny himself.) But Willie insists that the project will be completely

clean, and seems to think of it as his legacy--he even says that he does

not care whether it wins him any votes. He insists as well that Jack

convince Adam Stanton to run it.

Jack knows that Adam hates the entire Stark administration, but he visits

his friend's apartment to make the offer nevertheless. Adam is outraged,

but he seems tempted when Jack points out how much good he would be able to

do as director of the hospital. Eventually, after Anne becomes involved,

Adam agrees to take the job. He has a conversation with Willie during which

Willie espouses his moral theory--that the only thing for a man to do is

create goodness out of badness, because everything is bad, and the only

reason something becomes good is because a person thinks it makes things

better. Adam is wary of Willie, but he still takes the job--after he

receives Willie's promise not to interfere in the running of the hospital.

During this time Jack learns that Anne has found out that Adam received the

offer to run the hospital. She visits Jack, and says that she desperately

wants Adam to take it. In a moment of bitterness, Jack tells her about how

her father illegally protected Judge Irwin after he took the bribe. Anne is

crushed; but she visits Adam with the information, and that is what prompts

Adam to compromise his ideals and take the directorship. Anne, Adam, and

Jack attend a speech Willie gives, during which he announces his intention

to give the citizens of the state free medical care and free educations.

Anne asks urgently if Willie really means it, and Jack replies, "How the

hell should I know?"

But something nags the back of Jack's mind: he is unable to figure out how

Anne learned that Adam had been offered the directorship of the hospital.

Adam didn't tell her, and Willie says that he didn't tell her, and Jack

didn't tell her. He finds out that Sadie Burke told her, in a jealous

ragefor Sadie says that Anne is Willie's new slut, that she has become his

mistress. Jack is shocked, but when he visits Anne, she gives him a

wordless nod that confirms Sadie's accusation.

Chapter 7 Summary

After learning about Anne's afiair with Willie Stark, Jack ees westward. He

spends several days driving to California, then, after he arrives, three

days in Long Beach. On the way, he remembers his past with Anne Stanton,

and tries to understand what happened that led her to Willie. When they

were children, Jack spent most of his time with Adam Stanton, and Anne

simply tagged along. But the summer after his junior year at the State

University, when he was twenty-one and Anne was seventeen, Jack fell in

love with Anne, and spent the summer with her. They played tennis together,

and swam together at night, and pursued an increasingly intense physical

relationship-- Jack remembers that Anne was not prudish, that she seemed to

regard her body as something they both possessed, and that they had to

explore together. Two nights before Anne was scheduled to leave for her

boarding school, they found themselves alone in Jack's house during a

thunderstorm, and nearly made love for the first time--but Jack hesitated,

and then his mother came home early, ending their chance. The next day Jack

tried to convince Anne to marry him, but she demurred, saying that she

loved him, but seemed to feel that something in his unambitious character

was an impediment to her giving in to her love. After Anne left for school,

they continued to write every day, but their feelings dwindled, and the

next few times they saw each other, things were difierent between them.

Over Christmas, Anne wouldn't let Jack make love to her, and they had a

fight about it. Eventually the letters stopped, and Jack got thrown out of

law school, and began to study history, and then eventually he was married

to Lois, a beautiful sexpot whose friends he despised and who did not

interest him as a person. Toward the end of their marriage, he entered into

a phase of the Great Sleep, and then left her altogether.

After two years at a very refined women's college in Virginia, Anne

returned to Burden's Landing to care for her ailing father. She was engaged

several times but never married, and after her father died, she became an

old maid, though she kept her looks and her charm. She devoted herself to

her work at the orphanage and her other charities. Jack feels as though she

could never marry him because of some essential confidence he lacked, and

that she was drawn to Willie Stark because he possessed that confidence.

Jack also feels that because he revealed to Anne the truth of her father's

duplicity in protecting Judge Irwin after he accepted the bribe, he is

responsible for Anne's afiair with Willie. But he tries to convince himself

that the only human motivation is a certain kind of biological compulsion,

a kind of itch in the blood, and that therefore, he is not responsible for

Anne's behavior.

He says this attitude was a "dream" that made his trip west deliver on its

promise of "innocence and a new start"--if he was able to believe the


Chapter 8 Summary

Jack drives eastward back to his life. He stops at a filling station in New

Mexico, where he picks up an old man heading back to Arkansas. (The old man

was driven to leave for California by the Dust Bowl, but discovered that

California was no better than his home.) The old man has a facial twitch,

of which he seems entirely unaware. Jack, thinking about the twitch,

decides that it is a metaphor for the randomness and causelessness of life--

the very ideas he had been soothing himself with in California, ideas which

excused him from responsibility for Willie and Anne's afiair--and begins to

refer to the process of life as the "Great Twitch."

Feeling detached from the rest of the world because of his new "secret

knowledge," as he calls the idea of the Great Twitch, Jack visits Willie

and resumes his normal life. He sees Adam a few times and goes to watch him

perform a prefrontal lobotomy on a schizophrenic patient, which seems to

him another manifestation of the Great Twitch. One night, Anne calls Jack,

and he meets her at an all-night drugstore; she tells him that a man named

Hubert Coffee tried to offer Adam a bribe to throw the building contract

for the new hospital to Gummy Larson. In a rage, Adam hit the man, threw

himout, and wrote a letter resigning from his post as director of the


Anne asks Jack to convince Adam to change his mind; Jack says that he will

try, but that Adam is acting irrationally, and therefore may not listen to

reason. He says he will tell Willie to bring charges against Hubert Coffee

for the attempted bribe, which will convince Adam that Willie is not

corrupt, at least when it comes to the hospital. Anne offers to testify,

but Jack dissuades her--if she did testify, he says, her afiair with Willie

would become agrantly and unpleasantly public. Jack asks Anne why she has

given herself to Willie, and Anne replies that she loves Willie, and that

she will marry him after he is elected to the Senate next year.

Willie agrees to bring the charges against Coffee, and Jack is able to

persuade Adam to remain director of the hospital. That crisis is

averted,but a more serious crisis arises when a man named Marvin Frey--a

man, not coincidentally, from MacMurfee's district--accuses Tom Stark of

having impregnated his daughter Sibyl. Then one of MacMurfee's men visits

Willie and says that Marvin Frey wants Tom to marry his daughter--but that

Frey will see reason if, say, Willie were to let MacMurfee win the Senate

seat next year. Willie delays his answer, hoping to come up with a better


In the meantime, Jack goes to visit Lucy Stark at her sister's poultry

farm, where he explains to her what has happened with Tom. Lucy is

crestfallen, and says that Sibyl Frey's child is innocent of evil and

innocent of politics, and deserves to be cared for.

Willie comes up with a shrewd solution for dealing with MacMurfee and Frey.

Remembering that MacMurfee owes most of his current political clout, such

as it is, to the fact that Judge Irwin supports him, Willie asks Jack if he

was able to discover anything sordid in Judge Irwin's past. Jack says that

he was, but he refuses to tell Willie what it is until he gives Judge Irwin

the opportunity to look at the evidence and answer for himself.

Jack travels to Burden's Landing, where he goes for a swim and watches a

young couple playing tennis, feeling a lump in his throat at his memories

of Anne. He then goes to visit the judge, who is happy to see Jack, and who

apologizes for being so angry the last time they spoke. Jack tells the

judge what MacMurfee is trying to do and asks him to call MacMurfee off.

The judge says that he refuses to become mixed up in the matter, and Jack

is forced to ask him about the bribe and Mortimer Littlepaugh's suicide.

The judge admits that he did take the bribe, and accepts responsibility for

his actions, saying that he also did some good in his life. He refuses to

give in to the blackmail attempt.

Jack goes back to his mother's house, where he hears a scream from

upstairs. Running upstairs, he finds his mother sobbing insensibly, the

phone receiver off the hook and on the oor. When she sees Jack she cries

out that Jack has killed Judge Irwin--whom she refers to as Jack's father.

Jack learns that Judge Irwin has committed suicide, by shooting himself in

the heart, at the same moment he learns that Judge Irwin, and not the

Scholarly Attorney, was his real father. Jack realizes that the Scholarly

Attorney must have left Jack's mother when he learned of her afiair with

the judge. In a way, Jack is glad to be unburdened of his father's

weakness, which he felt as a curse, and is even glad to have traded a weak

father for a strong one. But he remembers his father giving him a chocolate

when he was a child, and says that he was not sure how he felt.

Jack goes back to the capital, where he learns the next day that he was

Judge Irwin's sole heir. He has inherited the very estate that the judge

took the bribe in order to save. The situation seems so crazily logical--

Judge Irwin takes the bribe in order to save the estate, then fathers Jack,

who tries to blackmail his father with information about the bribe, which

causes Judge Irwin to commit suicide, which causes Jack to inherit the

estate; had Judge Irwin not taken the bribe, Jack would have had nothing to

inherit, and had Jack not tried to blackmail Judge Irwin, the judge would

not have killed himself, and Jack would not have inherited the estate when

he did--so crazily logical that Jack bursts out laughing. But before long

he is sobbing and saying "the poor old bugger" over and over again. Jack

says this is like the ice breaking up after a long, cold winter.

Chapter 9 Summary

Jack goes to visit Willie, who asks him about Judge Irwin's death. Jack

tells the Boss that he will no longer have anything to do with blackmail,

even on MacMurfee, and he is set to work on a tax bill. Over the next few

weeks, Tom continues to shine at his football games, but the Sibyl Frey

incident has left Willie irritable and dour as he tries to concoct a plan

for dealing with MacMurfee. In the end, Willie is forced to give the

hospital contract to Gummy Larson, who can control MacMurfee, who can call

off Marvin Frey. Jack goes to the Governor's Mansion the night the deal is

made, and finds Willie a drunken wreck; Willie insults and threatens Gummy

Larson, and throws a drink in Tiny Dufiy's face. Tom continues to spiral

out of control. He gets in a fight with some yokels at a bar, and is

suspended for the game against Georgia, which the team loses. Two games

later, Tom is injured in the game against Tech, and is carried off the

field unconscious. Willie watches the rest of the game, which State wins

easily, then goes to the hospital to check on Tom. Jack goes back to the

offce, where he finds Sadie Burke sitting alone in the dark, apparently

very upset. Sadie leaves when Jack tells her about Tom's injury, then calls

from the hospital to tell Jack to come over right away.

Jack goes to the hospital, where the Boss sends him to pick up Lucy. Jack

does so, and upon their arrival they learn that the specialist Adam Stanton

called in to look at Tom has been held up by fog in Baltimore. Willie is

frantic, but eventually the specialist arrives. His diagnosis matches

Adam's: Tom has fractured two vertebrae, and the two doctors recommend a

risky surgery to see if the damage can be repaired. They undertake the

surgery, and Willie, Jack, and Lucy wait. Willie tells Lucy that he plans

to name the hospital after Tom, but Lucy says that things like that don't

matter. At six o'clock in the morning, Adam returns, and tells the group

that Tom will live, but that his spinal cord is crushed, and he will be

paralyzed for the rest of his life. Lucy takes Willie home, and Jack calls

Anne with the news. The operation was accomplished just before dawn on

Sunday. On Monday, Jack sees the piles of telegrams that have come into the

offce from political allies and well-wishers, and talks to the obsequious

Tiny. When Willie comes in, he declares to Tiny that he is canceling Gummy

Larson's contract. He implies that he plans to change the way things are

done at the capital. Jack is taking some tax-bill figures to the Senate

when he learns that Sadie has just stormed out of the offce, and receives

word that Anne has just called with an urgent message.

Jack goes to see Anne, who says that Adam has learned about her

relationship with Willie, and believes the afiair to be the reason he was

given the directorship of the hospital. She tells Jack that Willie has

broken off the afiair because he plans to go back to his wife. She asks

Jack to find Adam and tell him that that isn't the way things happened.

Jack spends the day trying to track down Adam, but he fails to find him.

That night, Jack is paged to go to the Capitol, where the vote on the tax

bill is taking place. Here, Jack greets Sugar-Boy and watches the Boss talk

to his political hangers-on. The Boss tells Jack that he wants to tell him

something. As they walk across the lobby, they see a rain-and-mud-soaked

Adam Stanton leaning against the pedestal of a statue. Willie reaches out

his hand to shake Adam's; in a blur, Adam draws a gun and shoots Willie,

then is shot himself by Sugar-Boy and a highway patrolman. Jack runs to

Adam, who is already dead.

Willie survives for a few days, and at first the prognosis from the

hospital is that he will recover. But then he catches an infection, and

Jack realizes that he is going to die. Just before the end, he summons Jack

to his hospital bed, where he says over and over again that everything

could have been difierent.

After he dies, he is given a massive funeral. Jack says that the other

funeral he went to that week was quite difierent: it was Adam Stanton's

funeral at Burden's Landing.

Chapter 10 Summary

After Adam's funeral and Willie's funeral, Jack spends some time in

Burden's Landing, spending his days quietly with Anne. They never discuss

Willie's death or Adam's death; instead they sit wordlessly together, or

Jack reads aloud from a book. Then one day Jack begins to wonder how Adam

learned about Anne and Willie's afiair. He asks her, but she says she does

not know-- a man called and told him, but she does not know who it was.

Jack goes to visit Sadie Burke in the sanitarium where she has gone to

recover her nerves. She tells Jack that Tiny Dufiy (now the governor of the

state) was the man who called Adam; and she confesses that Tiny learned

about the afiair from her. She was so angry about Willie leaving her to go

back to Lucy that she told Tiny out of revenge, knowing that, by doing so,

she was all but guaranteeing Willie's death. Jack blames Tiny rather than

Sadie, and Sadie agrees to make a statement which Jack can use to bring

about Tiny's downfall.

A week later, Dufiy summons Jack to see him. He offers Jack his job back,

with a substantial raise over Jack's already substantial income. Jack

refuses, and tells Tiny he knows about his role in Willie's death. Tiny is

stunned, and frightened, and when Jack leaves he feels heroic. But his

feeling of moral heroism quickly dissolves into an acidic bitterness,

because he realizes he is trying to make Tiny the sole villain as a way of

denying his own share of responsibility. Jack withdraws into numbness, not

even opening a letter from Anne when he receives it. He receives a letter

from Sadie with her statement, saying that she is moving away and that she

hopes Jack will let matters drop--Tiny has no chance to win the next

gubernatorial election anyway, and if Jack pursues the matter Anne's name

will be dragged through the mud. But Jack had already decided not to pursue


At the library Jack sees Sugar-Boy, and asks him what he would do if he

learned that there was a man besides Adam who was responsible for Willie's

death. Sugar-Boy says he would kill him, and Jack nearly tells him about

Tiny's role. But he decides not to at the last second, and instead tells

Sugar-Boy that it was a joke. Jack also goes to see Lucy, who has adopted

Sibyl Frey's child, which she believes is Tom's. She tells Jack that Tom

died of pneumonia shortly after the accident, and that the baby is the only

thing that enabled her to live. She also tells him that she believes--and

has to believe--that Willie was a great man. Jack says that he also

believes it.

Jack goes to visit his mother at Burden's Landing, where he learns that she

is leaving Theodore Murrell, the Young Executive. He is surprised to learn

that she is doing so because she loved Judge Irwin all along. This

knowledge changes Jack's long-held impression of his mother as a woman

without a heart, and helps to shatter his belief in the Great Twitch. At

the train station, he lies to his mother, and tells her that Judge Irwin

killed himself not because of anything that Jack did, but because of his

failing health. He thinks of this lie as his last gift to her.

After his mother leaves, he goes to visit Anne, and tells her the truth

about his parentage. Eventually, he and Anne are married, and in the early

part of 1939, when Jack is writing his story, they are living in Judge

Irwin's house in Burden's Landing. The Scholarly Attorney, now frail and

dying, lives with them. Jack is working on a book about Cass Mastern, whom

he believes he can finally understand. After the old man dies and the book

is finished, Jack says, he and Anne will leave Burden's Landing--stepping

"out of history into history and the awful responsibility of Time."


(Joseph Heller)


b. May 1, 1923, Brooklyn, N.Y., U.S.

American writer whose novel Catch-22 (1961) was one of the most

significant works of protest literature to appear after World War II. The

satirical novel was both a critical and a popular success, and a film

version appeared in 1970.Heller flew 60 combat missions as a bombardier

with the U.S. Air Force in Europe. He received an M.A. at Columbia

University in 1949 and was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Oxford

(1949-50). He taught English at Pennsylvania State University (1950-52) and

worked as an advertising copywriter for the magazines Time (1952-56) and

Look (1956-58) and as promotion manager for McCall's (1958-61), meanwhile

writing Catch-22 in his spare time. The plot of the novel centres on the

antihero Captain John Yossarian, stationed at an airstrip on a

Mediterranean island in World War II, and portrays his desperate attempts

to stay alive. The "catch" in Catch-22 involves a mysterious Air Force

regulation, which asserts that a man is considered insane if he willingly

continues to fly dangerous combat missions; but, if he makes the necessary

formal request to be relieved of such missions, the very act of making the

request proves that he is sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved. The

term Catch-22 thereafter entered the English language as a reference to a

proviso that trips one up no matter which way one turns.His later novels

including Something Happened (1974), an unrelievedly pessimistic novel,

Good as Gold (1979), a satire on life in Washington, D.C., and God Knows

(1984), a wry, contemporary-vernacular monologue in the voice of the

biblical King David, were less successful. Closing Time, a sequel to Catch-

22, appeared in 1994. Heller's dramatic work includes the play We Bombed in

New Haven (1968).


Joseph Heller was born in Brooklyn in 1923. He served as an Air Force

bombardier in World War II, and has enjoyed a long career as a writer and a

teacher. His bestselling books include Something Happened, Good as Gold,

Picture This, God Knows, and Closing Time--but his first novel, Catch-22,

remains his most famous and acclaimed work.

Written while Heller worked producing ad copy for a New York City

marketing firm, Catch-22 draws heavily on Heller's Air Force experience,

and presents a war story that is at once hilarious, grotesque, bitterly

cynical, and utterly stirring. The novel generated a great deal of

controversy upon its publication; critics tended either to adore it or

despise it, and those who hated it did so for the same reason as the

critics who loved it. Over time, Catch-22 has become one of the defining

novels of the twentieth century. It presents an utterly unsentimental

vision of war, stripping all romantic pretense away from combat, replacing

visions of glory and honor with a kind of nightmarish comedy of violence,

bureaucracy, and paradoxical madness.

Unlike other anti-romantic war novels, such as Remarque's All Quiet on

the Western Front, Catch-22 relies heavily on humor to convey the insanity

of war, presenting the horrible meaninglessness of armed conflict through a

kind of desperate absurdity, rather than through graphic depictions of

suffering and violence. Catch-22 also distinguishes itself from other anti-

romantic war novels by its core values: Yossarian's story is ultimately not

one of despair, but one of hope; the positive urge to live and to be free

can redeem the individual from the dehumanizing machinery of war. The novel

is told as a disconnected series of loosely related, tangential stories in

no particular chronological order; the final narrative that emerges from

this structural tangle upholds the value of the individual in the face of

the impersonal, collective military mass; at every stage, it mocks

insincerity and hypocrisy even when they appear to be triumphant.


Chapters 1-5

Yossarian is in a military hospital in Italy with a liver condition

that isn't quite jaundice. He is not really even sick, but he prefers the

hospital to the war outside, so he pretends to have a pain in his liver.

The doctors are unable to prove him wrong, so they let him stay, perplexed

at his failure to develop jaundice. Yossarian shares the hospital ward with

his friend Dunbar; a bandaged, immobile man called the soldier in white;

and a pair of nurses Yossarian suspect hate him. One day an affable Texan

is brought into the ward, where he tries to convince the other patients

that "decent folk" should get extra votes. The Texan is so nice that

everyone hates him. A chaplain comes to see Yossarian, and although he

confuses the chaplain badly during their conversation, Yossarian is filled

with love for him. Less than ten days after the Texan is sent to the ward,

everyone but the soldier in white flees the ward, recovering from their

ailments and returning to active duty.

Outside the hospital there is a war going on, and millions of boys are

bombing each other to death. No one seems to have a problem with this

arrangement except Yossarian, who once argued with Clevinger, an officer in

his group, about the war. Yossarian claimed that everyone was trying to

kill him. Clevinger argued that no one was trying to kill Yossarian

personally, but Yossarian has no patience for Clevinger's talk of countries

and honor and insists that they are trying to kill him. After being

released from the hospital, Yossarian sees his roommate Orr and notices

that Clevinger is still missing. He remembers the last time he and

Clevinger called each other crazy, during a night at the officers' club

when Yossarian announced to everyone present that he was superhuman because

no one had managed to kill him yet. Yossarian is suspicious of everyone

when he gets out of the hospital; he has a meal in Milo's mess hall, then

talks to Doc Daneeka, who enrages Yossarian by telling him that Colonel

Cathcart has raised to fifty the number of missions required before a

soldier can be discharged. The previous number was forty-five. Yossarian

has flown forty missions.

Yossarian talks to Orr, who tells him an irritating story about how he

liked to keep crab apples in his cheeks when he was younger. Yossarian

briefly remembers the time a whore had beaten Orr over the head with her

shoe in Rome outside Nately's whore's kid sister's room. Yossarian notices

that Orr is even smaller than Huple, who lives near Hungry Joe's tent.

Hungry Joe has nightmares whenever he isn't scheduled to fly a mission the

next day; his screaming keeps the whole camp awake. Hungry Joe's tent is

near a road where the men sometimes pick up girls and take them out to the

the tall grass near the open-air movie theater that a U.S.O. troupe visited

that same afternoon. The troupe was sent by an ambitious general named P.P.

Peckem, who hopes to take over the command of Yossarian's wing from General

Dreedle. General Peckem's troubleshooter Colonel Cargill, who used to be a

spectacular failure as a marketing executive and who is now a spectacular

failure as a colonel. Yossarian feels sick, but Doc Daneeka still refuses

to ground him. Doc Daneeka advises Yossarian to be like Havermeyer and make

the best of it; Havermeyer is a fearless lead bombardier. Yossarian thinks

that he himself is a lead bombardier filled with a very healthy fear.

Havermeyer likes to shoot mice in the middle of the night; once, he woke

Hungry Joe and caused him to dive into one of the slit trenchs that have

appeared nightly beside every tent since Milo Minderbinder, the mess

officer, bombed the squadron.

Hungry Joe is crazy, and though Yossarian tries to help him, Hungry Joe

won't listen to his advice because he thinks Yossarian is crazy. Doc

Daneeka doesn't believe Hungry Joe has problems--he thinks only he has

problems, because his lucrative medical practice was ended by the war.

Yossarian remembers trying to disrupt the educational meeting in Captain

Black's intelligence tent by asking unanswerable questions, which caused

Group Headquarters to make a rule that the only people who could ask

questions were the ones who never did. This rule comes from Colonel

Cathcart and Lieutenant Colonel Korn, who also approved the skeet shooting

range where Yossarian can never hit anything. Dunbar loves shooting skeet

because he hates it and it makes the time go more slowly; his goal is to

live as long as possible by slowing down time, so he loves boredom and

discomfort, and he argues about this with Clevinger.

Doc Daneeka lives in a tent with an alcoholic Indian named Chief White

Halfoat, where he tells Yossarian about some sexually inept newlyweds he

had in his office once. Chief White Halfoat comes in and tells Yossarian

that Doc Daneeka is crazy and then relates the story of his own family:

everywhere they went, someone struck oil, and so oil companies sent agents

and equipment to follow them wherever they went. Doc Daneeka still refuses

to ground Yossarian, who asks if he would be grounded if he were crazy. Doc

Daneeka says yes, and Yossarian decides to go crazy. But that solution is

too easy: there is a catch. Doc Daneeka tells Yossarian about Catch-22,

which holds that, to be grounded for insanity, a pilot must ask to be

grounded, but that any pilot who asks to be grounded must be sane.

Impressed, Yossarian takes Doc Daneeka's word for it, just as he had taken

Orr's word about the flies in Appleby's eyes. Orr insists there are flies

in Appleby's eyes, and though Yossarian has no idea what Orr means, he

believes Orr because he has never lied to him before. They once told

Appleby about the flies, so that Appleby was worried on the way to a

briefing, after which they all took off in B-25s for a bombing run.

Yossarian shouted directions to the pilot, McWatt, to avoid antiaircraft

fire while Yossarian dropped the bombs. Another time while they were taking

evasive action Dobbs went crazy and started screaming "Help him," while the

plane spun out of control and Yossarian believed he was going to die. In

the back of the plane, Snowden was dying.

Chapters 6-10

Hungry Joe has his fifty missions, but the orders to send him home

never come, and he continues to scream all through every night. Doc Daneeka

persists in feeling sorry for himself while ignoring Hungry Joe's problems.

Hungry Joe is driven crazy by noises, and is mad with lust--he is desperate

to take pictures of naked women, but the pictures never come out. He

pretends to be an important Life magazine photographer, and the irony is

that he really was a photographer for Life before the war. Hungry Joe has

flown six tours of duty, but every time he finishes one Colonel Cathcart

raises the number of missions required before Hungry Joe is sent home. When

this happens, the nightmares stop until Hungry Joe finishes another tour.

Colonel Cathcart is very brave about sending his men into dangerous

situations--no situation is too dangerous, just as no ping-pong shot is too

hard for Appleby. One night Orr attacked Appleby in the middle of a game; a

fight broke out, and Chief White Halfoat busted Colonel Moodus, General

Dreedle's son-in-law, in the nose. General Dreedle enjoyed that so much he

kept calling Chief White Halfoat in to repeat the performance--but the

Indian remains a marginal figure in the camp, much like Major Major, who

was promoted to squadron commander while playing basketball and who has

been ostracized ever since. Also, Ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen explains to

Yossarian how Catch-22 requires him to fly the extra missions Colonel

Cathcart orders, even though Twenty-Seventh Air Force regulations only

demand forty missions.

Yossarian's pilot, McWatt, is possibly the craziest of all the men,

because he is perfectly sane but he does not mind the war. He is smiling

and polite and loves to whistle show tunes. He is impressed with Milo--but

not as impressed as Milo was with the letter Yossarian got from Doc Daneeka

about his liver, which ordered the mess hall to give Yossarian all the

fresh fruit he wanted, which, in turn, Yossarian refused to eat, because if

his liver improved he couldn't go to the hospital whenever he wanted. Milo

is involved in the black market, and he tries to convince Yossarian to go

in with him in selling the fruit, but Yossarian refuses. Milo is indignant

when he learns that a C.I.D. (Criminal Investigation Division) man is

searching for a criminal who has been forging Washington Irving's name in

censored letters--it is Yossarian who used to pass time in the hospital by

writing the letters. But Milo is convinced the C.I.D. man is trying to set

him up because of his black market activity. Milo wants to organize the men

into a syndicate, as he demonstrates by returning McWatt's stolen bedsheet

in pieces--half for McWatt, a quarter for Milo, and so on. Milo has a grasp

on some confusing economics: he manages to make a profit buying eggs in

Malta for seven cents apiece and selling them in Pianosa for five cents


Not even Clevinger understands that, but though he is a dope, he

usually understands everything, except why Yossarian insists that so many

people are trying to kill him. Yossarian remembers training in America with

Clevinger under Lieutenant Scheisskopf, who was obsessed with parades, and

whose wife, along with her friend Dori Duz, used to sleep with all the men

under her husband's command. Lieutenant Scheisskopf hated Clevinger, and

finally got him sent to trial under a belligerant colonel. Clevinger is

stunned when he realizes that Lieutenant Scheisskopf and the colonel truly

hate him, in a way that no enemy soldier ever could.

Given a horrible name at birth because of his father's horrible sense

of humor, Major Major Major was chagrined when, the day he joined the army,

he was promoted to Major by an IBM machine with an equally horrible sense

of humor, making him Major Major Major Major. Major Major Major Major also

looks vaguely like Henry Fonda, and did so well in school that he was

suspected of being a Communist and monitored by the FBI. His sudden

promotion stunned his drill sergeant, who had to train a man who was

suddenly his superior officer. Luckily, Major Major applied for aviation

cadet training, and was sent to Lieutenant Scheisskopf. Not long after

arriving in Pianosa, he was made squadron commander by an irate Colonel

Cathcart, after which he lost all his new friends. Major Major has always

been a drab, mediocre sort of person, and had never had friends before; he

lapses into an awkward depression and refuses to be seen in his office

except when he isn't there. To make himself feel better, Major Major forges

Washington Irving's name to official documents. He is confused about

everything, including his official relationship to Major ----- de Coverley,

his executive officer: He doesn't know whether he is Major ----- de

Coverlay's subordinate, or vice versa. A C.I.D. man comes to investigate

the Washington Irving scandal, but Major Major denies knowledge, and the

incompetent C.I.D. man believes him--as does another C.I.D. man who arrives

shortly thereafter, then leaves to investigate the first C.I.D. man. Major

Major takes to wearing dark glasses and a false mustache when forging

Washington Irving's name. One day Major Major is tackled by Yossarian, who

demands to be grounded. Sadly, Major Major tells Yossarian that there is

nothing he can do.

Clevinger's plane disappeared in a cloud off the coast of Elba, and he

is presumed dead. Yossarian finds the disappearance as stunning as that of

a whole squadron of sixty-four men who all deserted in one day. Then he

tells ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen the news, but ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen isn't

impressed with the disappearance. Ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen continually goes

AWOL, then is required to dig holes and fill them up again--work he seems

to enjoy. One day ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen nicked a water pipe, and water

sprayed everywhere, leading to mass confusion much like that of the night

seven months later when Milo bombed the camp. Word spread that the water

was oil, and Chief White Halfoat was kicked off the base. Around this time,

Appleby tried to turn Yossarian in for not taking his Atabrine tablets, but

the only time he was allowed to go into Major Major's office was when Major

Major wasn't there. Yossarian remembers Mudd, a soldier who died

immediately after arriving at the camp, and whose belongings are still in

Yossarian's tent. The belongings are contaminated with death in the same

way that the whole camp was contaminated before the deadly mission of the

Great Big Siege of Bologna, for which Colonel Cathcart bravely volunteered

his men. During this time even sick men were not allowed to be grounded by

doctors. Dr. Stubbs is overwhelmed with cynicism, and asks what the point

is of saving lives when everyone dies anyway. Dunbar says that the point is

to live as long as you can and forget about the fact that you will

eventually die.

Chapters 11-16

Captain Black is pleased to hear the news that Colonel Cathcart has

volunteered the men for the lethally dangerous mission of bombing Bologna.

Captain Black thinks the men are bastards, and gloats about their

terrifying, violent task. Captain Black is extremely ambitious, and hoped

to be promoted to squadron commander; when Major Major was picked over him,

he lapsed into a deep depression, which the Bologna mission lifts him out

of. Captain Black first tried to get revenge on Major Major by initiating

the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade, when he forced all the men to swear

elaborate oaths of loyalty before doing basic things like eating meals. He

refused to let Major Major sign a loyalty oath, and hoped thereby to make

him appear disloyal. The Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was a major event in

the camp, until the fearsome Major ----- de Coverley put a stop to it by

hollering "Give me eat!" in the mess hall without signing an oath.

It rains interminably before the Bologna mission, and the bombing run

is delayed by the rain. The men all hope it will never stop raining, and

when it does, Yossarian moves the bomb line on the map so that the

commanding officers will think Bologna has already been captured. Then the

rain starts again. In the meantime, Ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen tries to sell

Yossarian a cigarette lighter, thus going into competition with Milo as a

black market trader. He is aghast that Milo has cornered the entire world

market for Egyptian cotton but is unable to unload any of it. The men are

terrified and miserable over Bologna. Clevenger and Yossarian argue about

whether it is Yossarian's duty to bomb Bologna, and by the middle of the

second week of waiting, everyone in the squadron looks like Hungry Joe. One

night Yossarian, Nately, and Dunbar go for a drunken drive with Chief White

Halfoat; they crash the jeep, and realize it has stopped raining. Back in

the tents, Hungry Joe is trying to shoot Huple's cat, which has been giving

him nightmares, and the men force Hungry Joe to fight the cat fairly. The

cat runs away, and Hungry Joe is the self-satisfied winner; then he goes

back to sleep and has another nightmare about the cat.

Major ----- de Coverley is a daunting, majestic man with a lion's mane

of white hair, an eagle's gaze, and a transparent eyepatch. Everyone is

afraid of him, and no one will talk to him. His sole duties include

travelling to major cities captured by the Americans and renting rooms for

his men to take rest leaves in; he spends the rest of his time playing

horseshoes. He is so good at his room- renting duties that he always

manages to be photographed with the first wave of American troops moving

into a city, a fact which perplexes both the enemy and the American

commanders. Major ----- de Coverley is a force of nature, but when

Yossarian moved the bomb line, he was fooled and traveled to enemy-

controlled Bologna; he still has not returned. Once, Milo approached him on

the horseshoe range and convinced him to authorize Milo to import eggs with

Air Force planes. This elated the men, except for Colonel Cathcart, whose

spur-of-the-moment attempt to promote Major Major failed, unlike his

attempt to give Yossarian a medal some time earlier, which succeeded. Back

when Yossarian was brave, he circled over a target twice in order to hit

it; on the second overpass, Mudd was killed by shrapnel. The authorities

didn't know how to rebuke Yossarian for his foolhardiness, so they decided

to stave off criticism by giving him a medal.

The squadron finally receives the go-ahead to bomb Bologna, and by this

time Yossarian doesn't feel like going over the target even once. He

pretends that his plane's intercom system is broken and orders his men to

turn back. They land at the deserted airfield just before dawn, feeling

strangely morose; Yossarian takes a nap on the beach and wakes up when the

planes fly back. Not a single plane has been hit. Yossarian thinks that

there must have been too many clouds for the men to bomb the city, and that

they will have to make another attempt, but he is wrong. There was no

antiaircraft fire, and the city was bombed with no losses to the Americans.

Captain Pilchard and Captain Wren ineffectually reprimand Yossarian and

his crew for turning back, then inform the men that they will have to bomb

Bologna again, as they missed the ammunition dumps the first time.

Yossarian confidently flies in, assuming there will be no antiaircraft

fire, and is stunned when shrapnel begins firing up toward him through the

skies. He furiously directs McWatt through evasive maneuvers, and fights

with the strangely cheerful Aarfy until the bombs are dropped; Yossarian

doesn't die, and the plane lands safely. He heads immediately for emergency

rest leave in Rome, where he meets Luciana the same night.

Luciana is a beautiful Italian girl Yossarian meets at a bar in Rome.

After he buys her dinner and dances with her, she agrees to sleep with him,

but not right then--she will come to his room the next morning. She does,

then angrily refuses to sleep with Yossarian until she cleans his room--she

disgustedly calls him a pig. Finally, she lets him sleep with her.

Afterward, Yossarian falls in love with her and asks her to marry him; she

says she can't marry him because he's crazy, and he's crazy because he

wants to marry her, because no one in their right mind would marry a girl

who wasn't a virgin. She tells him about a scar she got when the Americans

bombed her town. Suddenly, Hungry Joe rushes in with his camera, and

Yossarian and Luciana have to get dressed. Laughing, they go outside, where

they part ways. Luciana gives Yossarian her number, telling him she expects

that he will tear it up as soon as she leaves, self-impressed that such a

pretty girl would sleep with him for free. He asks her why on Earth he

would do such a thing. As soon as she leaves, Yossarian, self-impressed

that such a pretty girl would sleep with him for free, tears up her number.

Almost immediately, he regrets it, and, after learning that Colonel

Cathcart has raised the number of missions to forty, he makes the anguished

decision to go straight to the hospital.

Chapters 17-21

Things are better at the hospital, Yossarian decides, than they are on

a bomb run with Snowden dying in the back whispering "I'm cold." At the

hospital, Death is orderly and polite, and there is no inexplicable

violence. Dunbar is in the hospital with Yossarian, and they are both

perplexed by the soldier in white, a man completely covered in plaster

bandages. The men in the hospital discuss the injustice of mortality--some

men are killed and some aren't, some men get sick and some don't, with no

reference to who deserves what. Some time earlier Clevinger saw justice in

it, but Yossarian was too busy keeping track of all the forces trying to

kill him to listen. Later, he and Hungry Joe collect lists of fatal

diseases with which they worry Doc Daneeka, who is the only person who can

ground Yossarian, according to Major Major. Doc Daneeka tells Yossarian to

fly his fifty-five missions, and he'll think about helping him.

The first time Yossarian ever goes to the hospital, he is still a

private. He feigns an abdominal pain, then mimics the mysterious ailment of

the soldier who saw everything twice. He spends Thanksgiving in the

hospital, and vows to spend all future Thanksgivings there; but he spends

the next Thanksgiving in bed with Lieutenant Scheisskopf's wife, arguing

about God. Once Yossarian is "cured" of seeing everything twice, he is

asked to pretend to be a dying soldier for a mother and father who have

traveled to see their son, who died that morning. Yossarian allows them to

bandage his face, and pretends to be the soldier.

The ambitious Colonel Cathcart browbeats the chaplain, demanding prayer

before each bombing run, then abandons the idea when he realizes that the

Saturday Evening Post, where he got the idea, probably wouldn't give him

any publicity for it. The chaplain timidly mentions that some of the men

have complained about Colonel Cathcart's habit of raising the number of

missions required every few weeks, but Colonel Cathcart ignores him. On his

way home, the chaplain meets Colonel Korn, Colonel Cathcart's wily, cynical

sidekick, who mocks Colonel Cathcart in front of the chaplain and is highly

suspicious of the plum tomato Colonel Cathcart gave the chaplain. At his

tent in the woods, the chaplain encounters the hostile Corporal Whitcomb,

his atheist assistant, who resents him deeply for holding back his career.

Corporal Whitcomb tells the chaplain that a C.I.D. man suspects him of

signing Washington Irving's name to official papers, and of stealing plum

tomatoes. The poor chaplain is very unhappy, helpless to improve anyone's


Colonel Cathcart is preoccupied with the problem of Yossarian, who has

become a real black eye for him, most recently by complaining about the

number of missions, but previously by appearing naked at his own medal

ceremony shortly after Snowden's death. Colonel Cathcart wishes he knew how

to solve the problem and impress General Dreedle, his commanding officer.

General Dreedle doesn't care what his men do, as long as they remain

reliable military quantities. He travels everywhere with a buxom nurse, and

worries mostly about Colonel Moodus, his despised son in law, whom he

occasionally asks Chief White Halfoat to punch in the nose. Once Colonel

Korn tried to undercut Colonel Cathcart by giving a flamboyant briefing to

impress General Dreedle; General Dreedle told Colonel Cathcart that Colonel

Korn made him sick.

Chapters 22-26

Yossarian loses his nerve on the mission that follows Colonel Korn's

extravagant briefing, the mission where Snowden is killed and spattered all

over Yossarian's uniform when Dobbs goes crazy and seizes the plane's

controls from Huple. As he dies, Snowden pleads with Yossarian to help him;

he says he is cold. Dobbs is a terrible pilot and a wreck of a man, and he

later tells Yossarian he plans to kill Colonel Cathcart before he raises

the mission total again; he asks Yossarian to give him the go-ahead, but

Yossarian is unable to do so, so Dobbs abandons his plan. Yossarian thinks

that Dobbs is almost as bad as Orr, with whom Yossarian and Milo recently

took a trip to stock up on supplies. As they travel, Orr and Yossarian

gradually realize the extent of Milo's control over the black market and

vast international influence: he is the mayor of Palermo, the Assistant

Governor-General of Malta, the Vice-Shah of Oran, the Caliph of Baghdad,

the Imam of Damascus, the Sheik of Araby, and is worshipped as a god in

parts of Africa. Each region has embraced him because he revitalized their

economy with his syndicate, in which everybody has a share. Nevertheless,

throughout their trip, Orr and Yossarian are forced to sleep in the plane

while Milo enjoys lavish palaces, and they are finally awakened in the

middle of the night so that Milo can rush his shipment of red bananas to

their next stop.

One evening Nately finds his whore in Rome again after a long search.

He tries to convince Yossarian and Aarfy to take two of her friends for

thirty dollars each. Aarfy objects that he has never had to pay for sex.

Nately's whore is sick of Nately, and begins to swear at him; then Hungry

Joe arrives, and the group abandons Aarfy and goes to the apartment

building where the girls live. Here they find a seemingly endless flow of

naked young women; Hungry Joe is torn between taking in the scene and

rushing back for his camera. Nately argues with an old man who lives at the

building about nationalism and moral duty--the old man claims Italy is

doing better than America in the war because it has already been occupied,

so Italian boys are no longer being killed. He gleefully admits to swearing

loyalty to whatever nation happens to be in power. The patriotic,

idealistic Nately cannot believe his ears, and argues somewhat haltingly

for America's international supremacy and the values it represents. But he

is troubled because, though they are absolutely nothing alike, the old man

reminds him of his father.

By April, Milo's influence is massive. The mess officer controls the

international black market, plays a major role in the world economy, and

uses Air Force planes from countries all over the world to carry shipments

of his supplies; the planes are repainted with an "M & M Enterprises" logo,

but Milo continues to insist that everybody has a share in his syndicate.

Milo contracts with the Germans to bomb the Americans, and with the

Americans to shoot down German planes. German anti-aircraft guns contracted

by Milo even shot down Mudd, the dead man in Yossarian's tent, for which

Yossarian holds a grudge against Milo. Milo wants Yossarian's help

concocting a solution for unloading his massive holdings of Egyptian

cotton, which he cannot sell and which threatens to ruin his entire

operation. One evening after dinner, Milo's planes begin to bomb Milo's own

camp: He has landed another contract with the Germans, and dozens of men

are wounded and killed during the attack. Almost everyone wants to end M &

M Enterprises right then, but Milo shows them how much money they have all

made, and the survivors almost all forgive him. While Yossarian sits naked

in a tree watching Snowden's funeral, Milo seeks him out to talk to him

about the cotton; he gives Yossarian some chocolate-covered cotton and

tries to convince him it is really candy. Yossarian tells Milo to ask the

government to buy his cotton, and Milo is struck by the intelligence behind

the idea.

The chaplain is troubled. No one seems to treat him as a regular human

being; everyone is uncomfortable in his presence, he is intimidated by the

soldiers--especially Colonel Cathcart--and he is generally ineffectual as a

religious leader. He grows increasingly miserable, and is sustained solely

by the thought of the religious visions he has seen since his arrival, such

as the vision of the naked man in the tree at Snowden's funeral. Of course,

the naked man was Yossarian. He dreams of his wife and children dying

horribly in his absence. He tries to see Major Major about the number of

missions the men are asked to fly, but, like everyone else, finds that

Major Major will not allow him into his office except when he is out. On

the way to see Major Major a second time, the chaplain encounters Flume,

Chief White Halfoat's old roommate who is so afraid of having his throat

slit while he sleeps that he has taken to living in the forest. The

chaplain then learns that Corporal Whitcomb has been promoted to sergeant

by Colonel Cathcart for an idea that the colonel believes will land him in

the Saturday Evening Post. The chaplain tries to mingle with the men at the

officers' club, but Colonel Cathcart periodically throws him out. The

chaplain takes to doubting everything, even God.

The night Nately falls in love with his whore, she sits naked from the

waist down in a room full of enlisted men playing blackjack. She is already

sick of Nately, and tries to interest one of the enlisted men, but none of

them notice her. Nately follows her out, then to the officers' apartments

in Rome, where she tries the same trick on Nately's friends. Aarfy calls

her a slut, and Nately is deeply offended. Aarfy is the navigator of the

flight on which Yossarian is finally hit by flak; he is wounded in the leg

and taken to the hospital, where he and Dunbar change identities by

ordering lower-ranking men to trade beds with them. Dunbar pretends to be

A. Fortiori. Finally they are caught by Nurse Cramer and Nurse Duckett, who

takes Yossarian by the ear and puts him back to bed.

Chapters 27-31

The next morning, while Nurse Duckett is smoothing the sheets at the

foot of his bed, Yossarian thrusts his hand up her skirt. She shrieks and

rushes away, and Dunbar grabs her bosom from behind. When she is finally

rescued by a furious doctor, Yossarian tries to plead insanity--he says he

has a recurring dream about a fish--so he is assigned an appointment with

Major Sanderson, the hospital psychiatrist. Sanderson is more interested in

discussing his own problems than his patient's. Yossarian's friends visit

him in the hospital--Dobbs offers again to kill Colonel Cathcart--and

finally, after Yossarian admits that he thinks people are trying to kill

him and that he has not adjusted to the war, Major Sanderson decides that

Yossarian really is crazy and decides to send him home. But because of the

identity mixup perpetrated by Yossarian and Dunbar earlier in their

hospital stay, there is a mistake, and A. Fortiori is sent home instead.

Furiously, Yossarian goes to see Doc Daneeka, but Doc Daneeka will not

ground Yossarian for reasons of insanity. Who else but a crazy man, he

asks, would go out to fight?

Yossarian goes to see Dobbs, and tells him to go ahead and kill Colonel

Cathcart. But Dobbs has finished his sixty missions, and is waiting to be

sent home; he no longer needs to kill Colonel Cathcart. When Yossarian says

that Colonel Cathcart will simply raise the number of missions again, Dobbs

says he'll wait and see, but that perhaps Orr would help Yossarian kill the

colonel. Orr crashed his plane again while Yossarian was in the hospital

and was fished out of the ocean--none of the life jackets in his plane

worked, because Milo took out the carbon dioxide tanks to use for making

ice-cream sodas. Now, Orr is tinkering with the stove he is trying to build

in his and Yossarian's tent; he suggests that Yossarian should try flying a

mission with him for practice in case he ever has to make a crash landing.

Yossarian broods about the rumored second mission to Bologna. Orr is making

noise and irritating him, and Yossarian imagines killing him, which

Yossarian finds a relaxing thought. They talk about women--Orr says they

don't like Yossarian, and Yossarian replies that they're crazy. Orr tells

Yossarian that he knows Yossarian has asked not to fly with him, and offers

to tell Yossarian the story of why that naked girl was hitting him with her

shoe outside Nately's whore's kid sister's room in Rome. Yossarian

laughingly declines, and the next time Orr goes up he again crashes his

plane into the ocean. This time, his survival raft drifts away from the

others and disappears.

The men are dismayed when they learn that General Peckem has had

Scheisskopf, now a colonel, transferred onto his staff. Peckem is pleased

because he thinks the move will increase his strength compared to that of

his rival General Dreedle. Colonel Scheisskopf is dismayed by the news that

he will no longer be able to conduct parades every afternoon. Scheisskopf

immediately irritates his colleagues in Group Headquarters, and Peckem

takes him along for an inspection of Colonel Cathcart's squadron briefing.

At the preliminary briefing, the men are displeased to learn they will be

bombing an undefended village into rubble simply so that Colonel Cathcart

can impress General Peckem with the clean aerial photography their bomb

patterns will allow. When Peckem and Scheisskopf arrive, Cathcart is angry

that another colonel has appeared to rival him. He gives the briefing

himself, and though he feels shaky and unconfident, he makes it through,

and congratulates himself on a job well done under pressure.

On the bombing run, Yossarian flashes back to the mission when Snowden

died, and he snaps. During evasive action, he threatens to kill McWatt if

he doesn't follow orders. He is worried that McWatt will hold a grudge, but

after the mission McWatt only seems concerned about Yossarian. Yossarian

has begun seeing Nurse Duckett, and he enjoys making love to her on the

beach. Sometimes, while they sit looking at the ocean, Yossarian thinks

about all the people who have died underwater, including Orr and Clevinger.

One day, McWatt is buzzing the beach in his plane as a joke, when a gust of

wind causes the plane to drop for a split second--just long enough for the

propellor to slice Kid Sampson in half. Kid Samson's body splatters all

over the beach. Back at the base, everyone is occupied with the disaster;

McWatt will not land his plane, but keeps flying higher and higher.

Yossarian runs down the runway yelling at McWatt to come down, but he knows

what McWatt is going to do, and McWatt does it, crashing his plane into the

side of a mountain, killing himself. Colonel Cathcart is so upset that he

raises the number of missions to sixty-five.

When Colonel Cathcart learns that Doc Daneeka was also killed in the

crash, he raises the number of missions to seventy. Actually, Doc Daneeka

was not killed in the crash, but the records--which Doc Daneeka, hating to

fly, bribed Yossarian to alter--maintain that the doctor was in the plane

with McWatt, collecting some flight time. Doc Daneeka is startled to hear

that he is dead, but Doc Daneeka's wife in America, who receives a letter

to that effect from the military, is shattered. Heroically, she finds the

strength to carry on, and is cheered to learn that she will be receiving a

number of monthly payments from various military departments for the rest

of her life, as well as sizable life insurance payments from her husband's

insurance company. Husbands of her friends begin to flirt with her, and she

dies her hair. In Pianosa, Doc Daneeka finds himself ostracized by the men,

who blame him for the raise in the number of missions they are required to

fly. He is no longer allowed to practice medicine and realizes that, in one

sense, he really is dead. He sends a passionate letter to his wife begging

her to alert the authorities that he is still alive. She considers the

possibility, but after receiving a form letter from Colonel Cathcart

expressing regret over her husband's death, she moves her children to

Lansing, Michigan and leaves no forwarding address.

Chapters 32-37

The cold weather comes, and Kid Sampson's legs are left on the beach;

no one will retrieve them. The first things Yossarian remembers when he

wakes up each morning are Kid Sampson's legs and Snowden. When Orr never

returns, Yossarian is given four new roommates, a group of shiny-faced

twenty- one year-olds who have never seen combat. They clown around,

calling Yossarian "Yo-Yo" and rousing in him a murderous hatred. Yossarian

tries to convince Chief White Halfoat to move in with them and scare the

new officers away, but Halfoat has decided to move into the hospital to die

of pneumonia. Slowly, Yossarian begins to feel more protective toward the

men, but then they burn Orr's birch logs and suddenly move Mudd's

belongings out of the tent--the dead man who has lived there for so long is

abruptly gone. Yossarian panics and flees to Rome with Hungry Joe the night

before Nately's whore finally gets a good night's sleep and wakes up in


In Rome, Yossarian misses Nurse Duckett and goes searching in vain for

Luciana. Nately languishes in bed with his whore, when suddenly Nately's

whore's kid sister dives into bed with them. Nately begins to cherish wild

fantasies of moving his whore and her sister back to America and bringing

the sister up like his own child, but when his whore hears that he no

longer wants her to go out hustling she becomes furious, and an argument

ensues. The other men try to intervene, and Nately tries to convince them

that they can all move to the same suburb and work for his father. He tries

to forbid his whore from ever speaking again to the old man in the whores'

hotel, and she becomes even angrier, but she still misses Nately when he

leaves and is furious with Yossarian when he punches Nately in the face,

breaking his nose.

Yossarian breaks Nately's nose on Thansksgiving, after Milo gets all

the men drunk on bottles of cheap whiskey. Yossarian goes to bed early, but

wakes up to the sound of machine gun fire. At first he is terrified, but he

quickly realizes that a group of men are firing machine guns as a prank. He

is furious, and takes his .45 in pursuit of revenge. Nately tries to stop

him, and Yossarian breaks his nose. He fires at someone in the darkness,

but when a return shot comes Yossarian recognizes it as Dunbar's. He and

Dunbar call out to each other, and go back to help Nately. They cannot find

him, and discover him in the hospital the next morning. Yossarian feels

terribly guilty for having broken Nately's nose. They encounter the

chaplain in the hospital; he has lied to get in, claiming to have a disease

called Wisconsin shingles, and feels wonderful--he has learned how to

rationalize vice into virtue. Suddenly the soldier in white is wheeled into

the room, and Dunbar panics; he begins screaming, and soon everyone in the

ward joins in. Nurse Duckett warns Yossarian that she overheard some

doctors talking about how they planned to "disappear" Dunbar. Yossarian

goes to warn his friend, but cannot find him.

When Chief White Halfoat finally dies of pneumonia and Nately finishes

his seventy missions, Yossarian prays for the first time in his life,

asking God to keep Nately from volunteering to fly more than seventy

missions. But Nately does not want to be sent home until he can take his

whore with him. Yossarian goes for help from Milo, who immediately goes to

see Colonel Cathcart about having himself assigned to more combat missions.

Milo has finally been exposed as the tyrannical fraud he is; he has no

intention of giving anyone a real share of the syndicate--but his power and

influence are at their peak and everyone admires him. He feels guilty for

not doing his duty and flying missions, and asks the deferential Colonel

Cathcart to assign him to more dangerous combat duties. Milo tells Colonel

Cathcart that someone else will have to run the syndicate, and Colonel

Cathcart volunteers himself and Colonel Korn. When Milo explains the

complex operations of the business to Cathcart, the colonel declares Milo

the only man who could possibly run it, and forbids Milo from flying

another combat mission. He suggests that he might make the other men fly

Milo's missions for him, and if one of those men wins a medal, Milo will

get the medal. To enable this, he says, he will ratchet the number of

required missions up to eighty. The next morning the alarm sounds and the

men fly off on a mission that turns out to be particularly deadly. Twelve

men are killed, including Dobbs and Nately.

The chaplain is devastated by Nately's death. When he learns that

twelve men have been killed, he prays that Yossarian, Hungry Joe, Nately,

and his other friends will not be among them. But when he rides out to the

field, he understands from the despairing look on Yossarian's face that

Nately is dead. Suddenly, the Chaplain is dragged away by a group of

military police who accuse him of an unspecified crime. He is interrogated

by a colonel who claims the chaplain has forged his name in letters--his

only evidence is a letter Yossarian forged in the hospital and signed with

the chaplain's name some time ago. Then he accuses the chaplain of stealing

the plum tomato from Colonel Cathcart and of being Washington Irving. The

men in the room idiotically find him guilty of unspecified crimes they

assume he has committed, then order him to go about his business while they

think of a way to punish him. The chaplain leaves and furiously goes to

confront Colonel Korn about the number of missions the men are required to

fly. He tells Colonel Korn he plans to bring the matter directly to General

Dreedle's attention, but the colonel replies gleefully that General Dreedle

has been replaced with General Peckem as wing commander. He then tells the

chaplain that he and Colonel Cathcart can make the men fly as many missions

as they want to make them fly--they've even transferred Dr. Stubbs, who had

offerred to ground any man with seventy missions, to the Pacific.

General Peckem's victory sours quickly. On his first day in charge of

General Dreedle's old operation, he learns that Scheisskopf has been

promoted to lieutenant general and is now the commanding officer for all

combat operations: He is in charge of General Peckem and his entire group.

And he intends to make every single man present march in parades.

Chapters 38-42

Yossarian marches around backwards so no one can sneak up behind him

and refuses to fly in any more combat missions. When they are informed of

this, Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn decide to take brief pity on

Yossarian for the death of his friend Nately, and send him to Rome, where

he breaks the news of Nately's death to Nately's whore, who tries to kill

Yossarian with a potato peeler for bringer her the bad news. When he

resists, she tries to seduce him, then stabs at him with a knife again when

he seems to have relaxed. Nately's whore's kid sister materializes, and

tries to stab Yossarian as well. Yossarian loses patience, picks up

Nately's whore's kid sister and throws her bodily at Nately's whore, then

leaves the apartment. He notices people are staring at him, and suddenly

realizes that he has been stabbed several times and is bleeding everywhere.

He goes to a Red Cross building and cleans his wounds, and when he emerges

Nately's whore is waiting in ambush and tries to stab him again. He punches

her in the jaw, catches her as she passes out and sets her down gently.

Hungry Joe flies him back to Pianosa, where Nately's whore is waiting to

kill him with a steak knife. He eludes her, but she continues to try to

kill him at every opportunity. Yossarian walks around backwards; as word

spreads that he has refused to fly more combat missions, men begin to

approach him, only at night, and to ask him if it's true, and to tell him

they hope he gets away with it. One day Captain Black tells him that

Nately's whore and her kid sister have been flushed out of their apartment

by M.P.'s, and Yossarian, suddenly worried about them, goes to Rome without

permission to try to find them.

He travels with Milo, who is disappointed in him for refusing to fly

more combat missions. Rome has been bombed, and lies in ruins; the

apartment complex where the whores lived is a deserted shambles. Nately

finds the old woman who lived in the complex sobbing; she tells Yossarian

that the only right the soldiers had to chase the girls away was the right

of Catch-22, which says "they have a right to do anything we can't stop

them from doing." Yossarian asks if they had Catch-22 written down, and if

they showed it to her; she says that the law stipulates that they don't

have to show her Catch-22, and that the law that says so is Catch-22. She

says that the her old man is dead. Yossarian goes to Milo and says that he

will fly as many more combat missions as Colonel Cathcart wants if Milo

uses his influence to help him track down the kid sister. Milo agrees, but

becomes distracted when he learns about huge profits to be made in

trafficking illegal tobacco. He slinks away, and Yossarian is left to

wander the dark streets through a horrible night filled with grotesqueries

and loathsome sights; he returns to his apartments late in the night to

find that Aarfy has raped and killed a maid. The M.P.'s burst in. They

apologize to Aarfy for intruding, and arrest Yossarian for being in Rome

without a pass.

Back at Pianosa, Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn offer Yossarian a

deal: they will allow him never to fly another combat mission and will even

send him home, if only he will agree to like them. He will be promoted to

major and all he will have to do is to make speeches in America in support

of the military and the war effort, and in support of the two colonels in

particular. Yossarian realizes it is a hideous deal and a frank betrayal of

the men in his squadron, who will still have to fly the eighty missions,

but he convinces himself to take the deal anyway, and is filled with joy at

the prospect of going home. On his way out of Colonel Cathcart's office,

Nately's whore appears, disguised as a private, and stabs him until he

falls unconscious.

In the hospital, a group of doctors argues over Yossarian while the

fat, angry colonel who interrogated the chaplain interrogates him. Finally

the doctors knock him out and operate on him; when he awakes, he dimly

perceives visits from Aarfy and the chaplain. He tells the chaplain about

his deal with Cathcart and Korn, then assures him that he isn't going to do

it. He vaguely remembers a malignant, almost supernatural man jeering at

him "We've got your pal" shortly after his operation,. He then and he tells

the chaplain that his "pal" must have been one of his friends who was

killed in the war. He realizes that his only friend still living is Hungry

Joe, and but then the chaplain tells him that Hungry Joe has died--in his

sleep, with Huple's cat on his face. Later, Yossarian wakes up to find a

mean-looking man in a hospital gown leering saying "We've got your pal." He

asks who his pal is, and the man tells Yossarian that he'll find out.

Yossarian lunges for him, but the man glides away and vanishes. He flashes

back to the scene of Snowden's death, which he relives in all its agony--

Snowden smiling at him wanly, whimpering "I'm cold," Yossarian reassuring

him and trying to mend the wound until he opens up Snowden's flak suit and

Snowden's insides spill out all over him. He then --and remembers the

secret he had read in those entrails: "The spirit gone, man is garbage."

man is matter, and without the spirit he will rot like garbage.

In the hospital, Yossarian tries to explain to Major Danby why he can

no longer go through with the deal with Cathcart and Korn: he won't sell

himself so short, and he won't betray the memory of his dead friends. He

tells Danby he plans to run away, but Danby tells him there is no hope, and

he agrees. Suddenly the chaplain bursts in with the news that Orr has

washed ashore in Sweden. Yossarian realizes that Orr must have planned his

escape all along, and joyfully decides there is hope after all. He has the

chaplain retrieve his uniform, and decides to desert the army and run to

Sweden, where he can save himself from the madness of the war. As he steps

outside, Nately's whore tries to stab him again, and he runs into the



Yossarian - The protagonist and hero of the novel. Yossarian is a

captain in the Air Force and a lead bombardier in his squadron, but he

hates the war. His powerful desire to live has led him to the conclusion

that millions of people are trying to kill him, and he has decided either

to live forever or, ironically, die trying.

Milo Minderbinder - The fantastically powerful mess officer, Milo

controls an international black market syndicate and is revered in obscure

corners all over the world. He ruthlessly chases after profit and bombs his

own men as part of a contract with Germany. Milo insists that everyone in

the squadron will benefit from being part of the syndicate, and that

"everyone has a share."

Colonel Cathcart - The ambitious, unintelligent colonel in charge of

Yossarian's squadron. Colonel Cathcart wants to be a general, and he tries

to impress his superiors by bravely volunteering his men for dangerous

combat duty whenever he gets the chance. He continually raises the number

of combat missions required of the men before they can be sent home.

Colonel Cathcart tries to scheme his way ahead; he thinks of successful

actions as "feathers in his cap" and unsuccessful ones as "black eyes."

The Chaplain - The timid, thoughtful chaplain who becomes Yossarian's

friend. He is haunted by a sensation of deja vu and begins to lose his

faith in God as the novel progresses.

Hungry Joe - An unhinged member of Yossarian's squadron. Hungry Joe is

obsessed with naked women, and he has horrible nightmares on nights when he

isn't scheduled to fly a combat mission the next morning.

Nately - A good-natured nineteen year-old boy in Yossarian's squadron.

Nately comes from a wealthy home, falls in love with a whore, and generally

tries to keep Yossarian from getting into trouble.

Nately's whore - The beautiful whore Nately falls in love with in Rome.

After a good night's sleep, she falls in love with Nately as well. When

Yossarian tells her about Nately's death, she begins a persistent campaign

to ambush Yossarian and stab him to death.

Clevinger - An idealistic member of Yossarian's squadron who argues

with Yossarian about concepts such as country, loyalty, and duty, in which

Clevinger firmly believes. Clevinger's plane disappears inside a cloud

during the Parma bomb run, and he is never heard from again.

Doc Daneeka - The medical officer. Doc Daneeka feels very sorry for

himself because the war interrupted his lucrative private practice in the

States, and he refuses to listen to other people's problems. Doc Daneeka is

the first person to explain Catch-22 to Yossarian.

Dobbs - A co-pilot, Dobbs seizes the controls from Huple during the

mission to Avignon, the same mission on which Snowden dies. Dobbs later

develops a plan to murder Colonel Cathcart, and eventually awaits only

Yossarian's go-ahead to put it in action.

McWatt - A cheerful, polite pilot who often pilots Yossarian's planes.

McWatt likes to joke around with Yossarian, and sometimes buzzes the

squadron. One day he accidentally flies in too low, and slices Kid Sampson

in half with his propellor; he then commits suicide by flying his plane

into a mountain.

Major - The supremely mediocre squadron commander. Born Major Major

Major, he is promoted to major on his first day in the army by a

mischievous computer. Major Major is painfully awkward, and will only see

people in his office when he isn't there.

Aarfy - Yossarian's navigator. Aarfy infuriates Yossarian by pretending

he cannot hear Yossarian's orders during bomb runs. Toward the end of the

novel, Aarfy stuns Yossarian when he rapes and murders the maid of the

officers' apartments in Rome.

Orr - Yossarian's often maddening roommate. Orr almost always crashes

his plane or is shot down on combat missions, but he always seems to


Appleby - A handsome, athletic member of the squadron and a superhuman

ping-pong player. Orr enigmatically says that Appleby has flies in his


Captain Black - The squadron's bitter intelligence officer. He wants

nothing more than to be squadron commander. Captain Black exults in the

men's discomfort and does everything he can increase it; when Nately falls

in love with a whore in Rome, Captain Black begins to buy her services

regularly just to taunt him.

Colonel Korn - Colonel Cathcart's wily, cynical sidekick.

Major de Coverley - The fierce, intense executive officer for the

squadron. Major ----- de Coverley is revered and feared by the men--they

are even afraid to ask his first name-- though all he does is play

horseshoes and rent apartments for the officers in cities taken by American

forces. When Yossarian moves the bomb line on a map to make it appear that

Bologna has been captured, Major ----- de Coverely disappears in Bologna

trying to rent an officers' apartment.

Major Danby - The timid operations officer. Before the war, he was a

college professor; now, he does his best for his country. In the end, he

helps Yossarian escape.

General Dreedle - The grumpy old general in charge of the wing in which

Yossarian's squadron is placed. General Dreedle is the victim of a private

war waged against him by the ambitious General Peckem.

Nurse Duckett - A nurse in the Pianosa hospital who becomes Yossarian's


Dunbar - Yossarian's friend, the only other person who seems to

understand that there is a war going on. Dunbar has decided to live as long

as possible by making time pass as slowly as possible, so he treasures

boredom and discomfort. He is mysteriously "disappeared" as part of a

conspiracy toward the end of the novel.

Chief White Halfoat - An alcoholic Indian from Oklahoma who has decided

to die of pneumonia.

Havermeyer - A fearless lead bombardier. Havermeyer never takes evasive

action, and he enjoys shooting field mice at night.

Huple - A fifteen year-old pilot; the pilot on the mission to Avignon

on which Snowden is killed. Huple is Hungry Joe's roommate, and his cat

likes to sleep on Hungry Joe's face.

Washington Irving - A famous American author whose name Yossarian signs

to letters during one of his many stays in the hospital. Eventually,

military intelligence believes Washington Irving to be the name of a covert

insubordinate, and two C.I.D. (Criminal Investigation Division) men are

dispatched to ferret him out of the squadron.

Luciana - A beautiful girl Yossarian meets, sleeps with, and falls in

love with during a brief period in Rome.

Mudd - Generally referred to as "the dead man in Yossarian's tent,"

Mudd was a squadron member who was killed in action before he could be

processed as an official member of the squadron. As a result, he is listed

as never having arrived, and no one has the authority to move his

belongings out of Yossarian's tent.

Lieutenant Scheisskopf - Later Colonel Scheisskopf and eventually

General Scheisskopf. He helps train Yossarian's squadron in America and

shows an unsettling passion for elaborate military parades. ("Scheisskopf"

is German for "shithead.")

The Soldier in White - A body completely covered with bandages in

Yossarian and Dunbar's ward in the Pianosa hospital.

Snowden - The young gunner whose death over Avignon shattered

Yossarian's courage and opened his eyes to the madness of the war. Snowden

died in Yossarian's arms with his entrails splattered all over Yossarian's

uniform, a trauma which is gradually revealed throughout the novel.

Corporal Whitcomb - Later Sergeant Whitcomb, the chaplain's atheist

assistant. Corporal Whitcomb hates the chaplain for holding back his

career, and makes the chaplain a suspect in the Washington Irving scandal.

ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen - The mail clerk at the Twenty-Seventh Air Force

Headquarters, Wintergreen is able to intercept and forge documents, and

thus wields enormous power in the Air Force. He continually goes AWOL

(Absent Without Leave), and is continually punished with loss of rank.

General Peckem - The ambitious special operations general who plots

incessantly to take over General Dreedle's position.

Kid Sampson - A pilot in the squadron. Kid Sampson is sliced in half by

McWatt's propeller when McWatt jokingly buzzes the beach with his plane.

Lieutenant Colonel Korn - Colonel Cathcart's wily, condescending


Colonel Moodus - General Dreedle's son-in-law. General Dreedle despises

Colonel Moodus, and enjoys watching Chief White Halfoat bust him in the


Flume - Chief White Halfoat's old roommate who is so afraid of having

his throat slit while he sleeps that he has taken to living in the forest.

Dori Duz - A friend of Scheisskopf's wife. Together, they sleep with

all the men training under him while he is stationed in the U.S.

The Catcher in the Rye

Chapter One:

The Catcher in the Rye begins with the statement by the narrator, Holden

Caulfield, that he will not tell about his "lousy" childhood and "all that

David Copperfield kind of crap" because such details bore him. He describes

his parents as nice, but "touchy as hell." Instead, Holden vows to tell

about what happened to him around last Christmas, before he had to take it

easy. He also mentions his brother, D.B., who is nearby in Hollywood "being

a prostitute." Holden was a student at Pencey Prep in Agerstown,

Pennsylvania, and he mocks their advertisements, which claim to have been

molding boys into clear-thinking young men since 1888. Holden begins his

story during the Saturday of the football game with Saxon Hall, which was

supposed to be a very big deal at Pencey. Selma Thurmer, the daughter of

the headmaster, is at the game. Although she is unattractive and a bit

pathetic, to Holden she seems nice enough, for she does not lavish praise

upon her father. Holden, the manager of the fencing team, had just returned

from New York with the team. Although they were supposed to have a meet

with the McBurney School, Holden left the foils on the subway. The fencing

team was angry at Holden, but he thought the entire event was funny in a

way. Holden does not attend the football game, instead choosing to say

goodbye to Spencer, his history teacher, who knew that Holden was not

coming back to Pencey. Holden had recently been expelled for failing four


Chapter Two:

Holden finds the Spencer's house somewhat depressing, smelling of Vicks

Nose Drops and clearly indicating the old age of its inhabitants. Mr.

Spencer sits in a ratty old bathrobe, and asks Holden to sit down. Holden

tells him how Dr. Thurmer told him about how "life is a game" and you

should "play it according to the rules" when he expelled him. Mr. Spencer

tells him that Dr. Thurmer was correct, and Holden agrees with him, but

thinks instead that life is only a game if you are on the right side.

Holden tells Mr. Spencer that his parents will be upset, for this is his

fourth private school so far. Holden tells that, at sixteen, he is over six

feet tall and has some gray hair, but still acts like a child, as others

often tell him. Spencer says that he met with Holden's parents, who are

"grand" people, but Holden dismisses that word as "phony." Spencer then

tells Holden that he failed him in History because he knew nothing, and

even reads his exam essay about the Egyptians to him. At the end of the

exam, Holden left a note for Mr. Spencer, admitting that he is not

interested in the Egyptians, despite Spencer's interesting lectures, and

that he will accept if Mr. Spencer fails him. As Holden and Mr. Spencer

continue to talk, Holden's mind wanders; he thinks about ice skating in

Central Park. When Mr. Spencer asks why Holden quit Elkton Hills, he tells

Mr. Spencer that it is a long story, but explains in narration that the

people there were phonies. He mentions the particular quality of the

headmaster, Mr. Haas, who would be charming toward everyone but the "funny-

looking parents." Holden claims he has little interest in the future, and

assures Mr. Spencer that he is just going through a phase. As Holden

leaves, he hears Mr. Spencer say "good luck," a phrase that he particularly


Chapter Three:

Holden claims that he is the most terrific liar one could meet. He admits

that he lied to Spencer by telling him that he had to go to the gym. At

Pencey, Holden lives in the Ossenburger Memorial Wing of the new dorms.

Ossenburger is a wealthy undertaker who graduated from the school; Holden

tells how false Ossenburger seemed when he gave a speech exalting faith in

Jesus and how another student farted during the ceremony. Holden returns to

his room, where he puts on a red hunting hat they he bought in New York.

Holden discusses the books that he likes to read: he prefers Ring Lardner,

but is now reading Dinesen's Out of Africa. Ackley, a student whose room is

connected to Holden's, barges in on Holden. Holden describes Ackley as

having a terrible personality and an even worse complexion. Holden tries to

ignore him, then pretends that he is blind to annoy Ackley. Ackley cuts his

nails right in front of Holden, and asks about Ward Stradlater, Holden's

roommate. Ackley claims that he hates Stradlater, that "goddamn

sonuvabitch," but Holden tells Ackley that he hates Stradlater for the

simple reason that Stradlater told him that he should actually brush his

teeth. Holden defends Stradlater, claiming that he is conceited, but still

generous. Stradlater arrives, and is friendly to Holden (in a phony sort of

way), and asks to borrow a jacket from Holden. Stradlater walks around

shirtless to show off his build.

Chapter Four:

Since he has nothing else to do, Holden goes down to the bathroom to chat

with Stradlater as he shaves. Stradlater, in comparison to Ackley, is a

"secret" slob, who would always shave with a rusty razor that he would

never clean. Stradlater is a "Yearbook" kind of handsome guy. He asks

Holden to write a composition for him for English. Holden realizes the

irony that he is flunking out of Pencey, yet is still asked to do work for

others. Stradlater insists, however, that Holden not write it too well, for

Hartzell knows that Holden is a hot-shot in English. On an impulse, Holden

gives Stradlater a half nelson, which greatly annoys Stradlater. Stradlater

talks about his date that night with Jane Gallagher. Although he cannot

even get her name correct, Holden knows her well, for she lived next door

to him several summers ago and they would play checkers together.

Stradlater barely listens as he fixes his hair with Holden's gel. Holden

asks Stradlater not to tell Jane that he got kicked out. He then borrows

Holden's hound's-tooth jacket and leaves. Ackley returns, and Holden is

actually glad to see him, for he takes his mind off of other matters.

Chapter Five:

On Saturday nights at Pencey the students are served steak; Holden believes

this occurs because parents visit on Sunday and students can thus tell them

that they had steak for dinner the previous night, as if it were a common

occurrence. Holden goes with Ackley and Mal Brossard into New York City to

see a movie, but since Ackley and Brossard had both seen that particular

Cary Grant comedy, they play pinball and get hamburgers instead. When they

return, Ackley remains in Holden's room, telling about a girl he had sex

with, but Holden knows that he is lying, for whenever he tells that same

story, the details always change. Holden tells him to leave so that he can

write Stradlater's composition. He writes about his brother Allie's

baseball mitt. Allie, born two years after Holden, died of leukemia in

1946. The night that Allie died, Holden broke all of the windows in his

garage with his fist.

Chapter Six:

Stradlater returned late that night, thanked Holden for the jacket and

asked if he did the composition for him. When Stradlater reads it, he gets

upset at Holden, for it is simply about a baseball glove. Since Stradlater

is upset, Holden tears up the composition. Holden starts smoking, just to

annoy Stradlater. Holden asks about the date, but Stradlater doesn't give

very much information, only that they spent most of the time in Ed Banky's

car. Finally he asks if Stradlater "gave her the time" there. Stradlater

says that the answer is a "professional secret," and Holden responds by

trying to punch Stradlater. Stradlater pushes him down and sits with his

knees on Holden's chest. He only lets Holden go when he agrees to say

nothing more about Stradlater's date. When he calls Stradlater a moron, he

knocks Holden out. Holden then goes to the bathroom to wash the blood off

his face. Even though he claims to be a pacifist, Holden enjoys the look of

blood on his face.

Chapter Seven:

Ackley, who was awakened by the fight, comes in Holden's room to ask what

happened. He tells Holden that he is still bleeding and should put

something on his wounds. Holden asks if he can sleep in Ackley's room that

night, since his roommate is away for the weekend, but Ackley says that he

can't give him permission. Holden feels so lonesome that he wishes he were

dead. Holden worries that Stradlater had sex with Jane during their date,

because he knew that Stradlater was capable of seducing girls quickly.

Holden asks Ackley whether or not one has to be Catholic to join a

monastery. He then decides to leave Pencey immediately. He decides to take

a room in a hotel in New York and take it easy until Wednesday. He packs

ice skates that his mother had just sent him. The skates make him sad,

because they are not the kind that he wanted. According to Holden, his

mother has a way of making him sad whenever he receives a present. Holden

wakes up Woodruff, a wealthy student, and sells him his typewriter for

twenty bucks. Before he leaves, he yells "Sleep tight, ya morons."

Chapter Eight:

Since it is too late to call a cab, Holden walks to the train station. On

the train, a woman gets on at Trenton and sits right beside him, even

though the train is nearly empty. She strikes up a conversation with him,

noticing the Pencey sticker on his suitcase, and says that her son, Ernest

Morrow, goes to Pencey as well. Holden remembers him as "the biggest

bastard that ever went to Pencey." Holden tells her that his name is Rudolf

Schmidt, the name of the Pencey janitor. Holden lies to Mrs. Morrow,

pretending that he likes Pencey and that he is good friends with Ernest.

She thinks that her son is sensitive,' an idea that Holden finds

laughable, but Holden continues to tell lies about Ernest, such as that he

would have been elected class president, but he was too modest to accept

the nomination. Holden asks if she would like to join him for a cocktail in

the club car. Finally, he tells her that he is leaving Pencey early because

he has to have an operation; he claims he has a tumor on his brain. When

she invites Holden to visit during the summer, he says that he will be

spending the summer in South America with his grandmother.

Chapter Nine:

When Holden reaches New York, he does not know whom to call. He considers

calling his kid sister, Phoebe, but she would be asleep and his parents

would overhear. He also considers calling Jane Gallagher or Sally Hayes,

another friend, but finally does not call anybody. He gets into a cab and

absentmindedly gives the driver his home address, but soon realizes that he

does not want to get home. He goes to the Edmond Hotel instead, where he

stays in a shabby room. He looks out of the window and could see the other

side of the hotel. From this view he can see other rooms; in one of them, a

man takes off his clothes and puts on ladies' clothing, while in another a

man and a woman spit their drinks at one another. Holden thinks that he's

the "biggest sex maniac you ever saw," but then claims that he does not

understand sex at all. He then thinks of calling Jane Gallagher but again

decides against it, and instead considers calling a woman named Faith

Cavendish, who was formerly a burlesque stripper and is not quite a

prostitute. When he calls her, he continues to ask whether or not they

could get a drink together, but she turns him down at every opportunity.

Chapter Ten:

Holden describes more about his family in this chapter. His sister Phoebe

is the smartest little kid that he has ever met, and Holden himself is the

only dumb one. Phoebe reminds Holden of Allie in physical appearance, but

she is very emotional. She writes books about Hazle Weatherfield, a girl

detective. Holden goes down to the Lavender Room, a nightclub in the hotel.

The band there is putrid and the people are mostly old. When he attempts to

order a drink, the waiter asks for identification, but since he does not

have proof of his age, he begs the waiter to put rum in his Coke. Holden

"gives the eye" to three women at another table, in particular a blonde

one. He asks the blonde one to dance, and Holden judges her to be an

excellent dancer, but a moron. Holden is offended when the woman, Bernice

Krebs, asks his age and when he uses profanity in front of her. He tells

these women, who are visiting from Seattle, that his name is Jim Steele.

Since they keep mentioning how they saw Peter Lorre that day, Holden claims

that he just saw Gary Cooper, who just left the Lavender Room. Holden

thinks that the women are sad for wanting to go to the first show at Radio

City Music Hall.

Chapter Eleven:

Upon leaving the Lavender Room, Holden begins to think of Jane Gallagher

and worries that Stradlater seduced her. Holden met Jane when his mother

became irritated that the Gallagher's Doberman pinscher relieved itself on

their lawn. Several days later, he introduced himself to her, but it took

some time before he could convince her that he didn't care what their dog

did. Holden reminisces about Jane's smile, and admits that she is the only

person whom he showed Allie's baseball mitt. The one time that he and Jane

did anything sexual together was after she had a fight with Mr. Cudahy, her

father-in-law. Holden suspected that he had tried to "get wise with" Jane.

Holden decides to go to Ernie's, a nightclub in Greenwich village that D.B.

used to frequent before he went to Hollywood.

Chapter Twelve:

In the cab to Ernie's, Holden chats with Horwitz, the cab driver. He asks

what happens to the ducks in Central Park during the winter, but the two

get into an argument when Horwitz thinks that Holden's questions are

stupid. Ernie's is filled with prep school and college jerks, as Holden

calls them. Holden notices a Joe Yale-looking guy with a beautiful girl; he

is telling the girl how a guy in his dorm nearly committed suicide. A

former girlfriend of Holden's brother, D.B., recognizes him. The girl,

Lillian Simmons, asks about D.B. and introduces Holden to a Navy commander

she is dating. Holden notices how she blocks the aisle in the place as she

drones on about how handsome Holden has become. Rather than spend time with

Lillian Simmons, Holden leaves.

Chapter Thirteen:

Holden walks back to his hotel, although it is forty-one blocks away. He

considers how he would confront a person who had stolen his gloves.

Although he would not do so aggressively, he wishes that he could threaten

the person who stole them. Holden finally concludes that he would yell at

the thief but not have the courage to hit him. Holden reminisces about

drinking with Raymond Goldfarb at Whooton. While back at the hotel, Maurice

the elevator man asks Holden if he is interested in a little tail tonight.

He offers a prostitute for five dollars. When she arrives, she does not

believe that he is twenty-two, as he claims. Holden finally tells the

prostitute, Sunny, that he just had an operation on his clavichord, as an

excuse not to have sex. She is angry, but he still pays her, even though

they argue over the price. He gives her five dollars, although she demands


Chapter Fourteen:

After the prostitute leaves, Holden sits in a chair and talks aloud to his

brother Allie, which he often does whenever he is depressed. Finally he

gets in bed and feels like praying, although he is "sort of an atheist." He

claims that he likes Jesus, but the Disciples annoy him. Other than Jesus,

the Biblical character he likes best is the lunatic who lived in the tombs

and cut himself with stones. Holden tells that his parents disagree on

religion and none of his siblings attend church. Maurice and Sunny knock on

the door, demanding more money. Holden argues with Maurice and threatens to

call the cops, but Maurice says that his parents would find out that he

spent the night with a whore. As Holden starts to cry, Sunny takes the

money from his wallet. Maurice punches him in the stomach before leaving.

After Maurice is gone, Holden imagines that he had taken a bullet and would

shoot Maurice in the stomach. Holden feels like committing suicide by

jumping out the window, but he wouldn't want people looking at his gory

body on the sidewalk.

Chapter Fifteen:

Holden calls Sally Hayes, who goes to the Mary A. Woodruff School.

According to Holden, Sally seems quite intelligent because she knows a good

deal about the theater and literature, but is actually quite stupid. He

makes a date to meet Sally for a matinee, but she continues to chat with

Holden on the phone despite his lack of interest. Holden tells that his

father is a wealthy corporation attorney and his mother has not been

healthy since Allie died. At Grand Central Station, where Holden checks in

his bags after leaving the hotel, he sees two nuns with cheap suitcases.

Holden reminisces about his roommate at Elkton Hills, Dick Slagle who had

cheap suitcases and would complain about how everything was bourgeois. He

chats with the nuns and gives them a donation. He wonders what nuns think

about sex when he discusses Romeo and Juliet with them.

Chapter Sixteen:

Before meeting Sally Hayes, Holden goes to find a record called "Little

Shirley Beans" for Phoebe by Estelle Fletcher. As he walks through the

city, he hears a poor kid playing with his parents, singing the song "If a

body catch a body coming through the rye." Hearing the song makes Holden

feel less depressed. Holden buys tickets for I Know My Love, a play

starring the Lunts. He knew that Sally would enjoy it, for it was supposed

to be very sophisticated. Holden goes to the Mall, where Phoebe usually

plays when she is in the park, and sees a couple of kids playing there. He

asks if any of them know Phoebe. They do, and claim that she is probably in

the Museum of Natural History. He reminisces about going to the Museum when

he was in grade school. He remembers how he would go there often with his

class, but while the exhibits would be exactly the same, he would be

different each time. Holden considers going to the museum to see Phoebe,

but instead goes to the Biltmore for his date with Sally.

Chapter Seventeen:

Holden meets Sally at the Biltmore, and when he sees her he immediately

feels like marrying her, even though he doesn't particularly like her.

After the play, when Sally keeps mentioning that she thinks she knows

people she sees, Holden replies "Why don't you go on over and give him a

big soul kiss, if you know him? He'll enjoy it." Finally, Sally does go to

talk to the boy she knows, George from Andover. Holden notes how phony the

conversation between Sally and George is. Holden and Sally go ice skating

at Radio City, then to eat. Sally asks Holden if he is coming over to help

her trim the Christmas tree. Holden asks her if she ever gets fed up. He

tells her that he hates everything: taxicabs, living in New York, phony

guys who call the Lunts angels. Sally tells him not to shout. He tells her

that she is the only reason that he is in New York right now. If not for

her, he would be in the woods, he claims. He complains about the cliques at

boarding schools, and tells her that he's in lousy shape. He suggests that

they borrow a car from a friend in Greenwich Village and drive up to New

England where they can stay in a cabin camp until their money runs out.

They could get married and live in the woods. Sally tells him that the idea

is foolish, for they are both practically children who would starve to

death. She tells him that they will have a lot of time to do those things

after college and marriage, but he claims that there wouldn't be "oodles"

of places to go, for it would be entirely different. He calls her a "royal

pain in the ass," and she starts to cry. Holden feels somewhat guilty, and

realizes that he doesn't even know where he got the idea about going to New


Chapter Eighteen:

Holden once again considers giving Jane a call to invite her to go dancing.

He remembers how she danced with Al Pike from Choate. Although Holden

thought that he was "all muscles and no brains," Jane claimed that he had

an inferiority complex and felt sorry for him. Holden thinks that girls

divide guys into two types, no matter what their personality: a girl will

justify bad behavior as part of an inferiority complex for those she likes,

while claim those that she doesn't like are conceited. Holden calls Carl

Luce, a friend from the Whooton School who goes to Columbia, and plans to

meet him that night. He then goes to the movies and is annoyed when a woman

beside him becomes too emotional. The movie is a war film, which makes

Holden think about D.B.'s experience in the war. He hated the army, but had

Holden read A Farewell to Arms, which in Holden's view celebrates soldiers.

Holden thinks that if there is a war, he is glad that the atomic bomb has

been invented, for he would volunteer to sit right on top of it.

Chapter Nineteen:

Holden meets Carl Luce at the Wicker Bar. Carl Luce used to gossip about

people who were "flits" (homosexuals) and would tell which actors were

actually gay. Holden claims that Carl was a bit "flitty" himself. When Carl

arrives, he asks Holden when he is going to grow up, and is not amused by

Holden's jokes. Carl is annoyed that he is having a "typical Caulfield

conversation" about sex. Carl admits that he is seeing an older woman in

the Village who is a sculptress from China. Holden asks questions that are

too personal about Carl's sex life with his girlfriend until Carl insists

that he drop the subject. Carl reminds him that the last time he saw Holden

he told him to see his father, a psychiatrist.

Chapter Twenty:

Holden remains in the Wicker Bar getting drunk. He continues to pretend

that he has been shot. Finally, he calls Sally, but her grandmother answers

and asks why he is calling so late. Finally, Sally gets on the phone and

realizes that Holden is drunk. In the restroom of the Wicker Bar, he talks

to the "flitty-looking" guy, asking if he will see the "Valencia babe" who

performs there, but he tells Holden to go home. Holden finally leaves. As

he walks home, Holden drops Phoebe's record and nearly starts to cry. He

goes to Central Park and sits down on a bench. He thinks that he will get

pneumonia and imagines his funeral. He is reassured that his parents won't

let Phoebe come to his funeral because he is too young. He thinks about

what Phoebe would feel if he got pneumonia and died, and figures that he

should sneak home and see her, in case he did die.

Chapter Twenty-One:

Holden returns home, where he is very quiet as not to awake his parents.

Phoebe is asleep in D.B.'s room. He sits down at D.B.'s desk and looks at

Phoebe's stuff, such as her math book, where she has the name "Phoebe

Weatherfield Caulfield" written on the first page (her middle name is

actually Josephine). He wakes up Phoebe and hugs her. She tells about how

she is playing Benedict Arnold in her school play. She tells about how she

saw a movie called The Doctor, and how their parents are out for the night.

Holden shows Phoebe the broken record, and admits that he got kicked out.

She tells him that "Daddy's going to kill you," but Holden says that he is

going away to a ranch in Colorado. Phoebe places a pillow over her head and

refuses to talk to Holden.

Chapter Twenty-Two:

Phoebe tells Holden that she thinks his scheme to go out to Colorado is

foolish, and asks why he failed out of yet another school. He claims that

Pencey is full of phonies. He tells her about how everyone excluded Robert

Ackley as a sign of how phony the students are. Holden admits that there

were a couple of nice teachers, including Mr. Spencer, but then complains

about the Veterans' Day ceremonies. Phoebe tells Holden that he doesn't

like anything that happens. She asks Holden for one thing that he likes a

lot. He thinks of two things. The first is the nuns at Grand Central. The

second is a boy at Elkton Hills named James Castle, who had a fight with a

conceited guy named Phil Stabile. He threatened James, who responded by

jumping out the window, killing himself. However, he tells Phoebe that he

likes Allie, and he likes talking to Phoebe right now. Holden tells Phoebe

that he would like to be a catcher in the rye: he pictures a lot of

children playing in a big field of rye around the edge of a cliff. Holden

imagines that he would catch them if they started to go over the cliff.

Holden decides to call up Mr. Antolini, a former teacher at Elkton Hills

who now teaches English at NYU.

Chapter Twenty-Three:

Holden tells that Mr. Antolini was his English teacher at Elkton Hills and

was the person who carried James Castle to the infirmary. Holden and Phoebe

dance to the radio, but their parents come home and Holden hides in the

closet. When he believes that it is safe, Holden asks Phoebe for money and

she gives him eight dollars and change. He starts to cry as he prepares to

leave, which frightens Phoebe. He gives Phoebe his hunting hat and tells

her that he will give her a call.

Chapter Twenty-Four:

Mr. Antolini had married an older woman who shared similar intellectual

interests. When he arrives at his apartment, Holden finds Mr. Antolini in a

bathrobe and slippers, drinking a highball. Holden and Mr. Antolini discuss

Pencey, and Holden tells how he failed Oral Expression (debate). He tells

Holden how he had lunch with his father, who told him that Holden was

cutting classes and generally unprepared. He warns Holden that he is riding

for some kind of terrible fall. He says that it may be the kind where, at

the age of thirty, he sits in some bar hating everyone who comes in looking

as if he played football in college or hating people who use improper

grammar. He tells Holden that the fall that he is riding for is a special

and horrible kind, and that he can see Holden dying nobly for some highly

unworthy cause. He gives Holden a quote from the psychoanalyst Wilhelm

Stekel: "The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a

cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for

one." He finally tells Holden that once he gets past the things that annoy

him, he will be able to find the kind of information that will be dear to

his heart. Holden goes to sleep, and wakes up to find Mr. Antolini's hand

on his head. He tells Holden that he is "simply sitting here, admiring"

but Holden interrupts him, gets dressed and leaves, claiming that he has to

get his bags from Grand Central Station and he will be back soon.

Chapter Twenty-Five:

When Holden gets outside, it is getting light out. He walks over to

Lexington to take the subway to Grand Central, where he slept that night.

He thinks about how Mr. Antolini will explain Holden's departure to his

wife. Holden feels some regret that he didn't come back to the Antolini's

apartment. Holden starts reading a magazine at Grand Central; when he reads

an article about hormones, he begins to worry about hormones, and worries

about cancer when he reads about cancer. As Holden walks down Fifth Avenue,

he feels that he will not get to the other side of the street each time he

comes to the end of a block. He feels that he would just go down. He makes

believe that he is with Allie every time he reaches a curb. Holden decides

that he will go away, never go home again and never go to another prep

school. He thinks he will pretend to be a deaf-mute so that he won't have

to deal with stupid conversations. Holden goes to Phoebe's school to find

her and say goodbye. At the school he sees "fuck you" written on the wall,

and becomes enraged as he tries to scratch it off. He writes her a note

asking her to meet him near the Museum of Art so that he can return her

money. While waiting for Phoebe at the Museum, Holden chats with two

brothers who talk about mummies. He sees another "fuck you" written on the

wall, and is convinced that someone will write that below the name on his

tombstone. Holden, suffering from diarrhea, goes to the bathroom, and as he

exits the bathroom he passes out. When he regains consciousness, he feels

better. Phoebe arrives, wearing Holden's hunting hat and dragging Holden's

old suitcase. She tells him that she wants to come with him. She begs, but

he refuses and causes her to start crying. She throws the red hunting hat

back at Holden and starts to walk away. She follows Holden to the zoo, but

refuses to talk to him or get near him. He buys Phoebe a ticket for the

carousel there, and watches her go around on it as "Smoke Gets in Your

Eyes" plays. Afterwards, she takes back the red hunting hat and goes back

on the carousel. As it starts to rain, Holden cries while watching Phoebe.

Chapter Twenty-Six:

Holden ends his story there. He refuses to tell what happened after he went

home and how he got sick. He says that people are concerned about whether

he will apply himself next year. He tells that D.B. visits often, and he

often misses Stradlater, Ackley, and even Maurice. However, he advises not

to tell anybody anything, because it is this that causes a person to start

missing others.



The first son of Clarence Edmonds Hemingway, a doctor, and Grace Hall

Hemingway, Ernest Miller Hemingway was born in a suburb of Chicago. He was

educated in the public schools and began to write in high school, where he

was active and outstanding, but the parts of his boyhood that mattered most

were summers spent with his family on Walloon Lake in upper Michigan. On

graduation from high school in 1917, impatient for a less sheltered

environment, he did not enter college but went to Kansas City, where he was

employed as a reporter for the Star. He was repeatedly rejected for

military service because of a defective eye, but he managed to enter World

War I as an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross. On July 8, 1918,

not yet 19 years old, he was injured on the Austro-Italian front at

Fossalta di Piave. Decorated for heroism and hospitalized in Milan, he fell

in love with a Red Cross nurse, Agnes von Kurowsky, who declined to marry

him. These were experiences he was never to forget.

After recuperating at home, Hemingway renewed his efforts at writing,

for a while worked at odd jobs in Chicago, and sailed for France as a

foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star. Advised and encouraged by other

American writers in Paris--F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound--

he began to see his nonjournalistic work appear in print there, and in 1923

his first important book, a collection of stories called In Our Time, was

published in New York City. In 1926 he published The Sun Also Rises, a

novel with which he scored his first solid success. A pessimistic but

sparkling book, it deals with a group of aimless expatriates in France and

Spain--members of the postwar "lost generation," a phrase that Hemingway

scorned while making it famous. This work also introduced him to the

limelight, which he both craved and resented for the rest of his life.

Hemingway's The Torrents of Spring, a parody of the American writer

Sherwood Anderson's book Dark Laughter, also appeared in 1926.The writing

of books occupied him for most of the postwar years. He remained based in

Paris, but he traveled widely for the skiing, bullfighting, fishing, or

hunting that by then had become part of his life and formed the background

for much of his writing. His position as a master of short fiction had been

advanced by Men Without Women in 1927 and thoroughly established with the

stories in Winner Take Nothing in 1933.

Among his finest stories are "The Killers," "The Short Happy Life of

Francis Macomber," and "The Snows of Kilimanjaro." At least in the public

view, however, the novel A Farewell to Arms (1929) overshadowed such works.

Reaching back to his experience as a young soldier in Italy, Hemingway

developed a grim but lyrical novel of great power, fusing love story with

war story. While serving with the Italian ambulance service during World

War I, the American lieutenant Frederic Henry falls in love with the

English nurse Catherine Barkley, who tends him during his recuperation

after being wounded. She becomes pregnant by him, but he must return to his

post. Henry deserts during the Italians' disastrous retreat after the

Battle of Caporetto, and the reunited couple flee Italy by crossing the

border into Switzerland. There, however, Catherine and her baby die during

childbirth, leaving Henry desolate at the loss of the great love of his


Hemingway's love of Spain and his passion for bullfighting resulted in

Death in the Afternoon (1932), a learned study of a spectacle he saw more

as tragic ceremony than as sport. Similarly, a safari he took in 1933-34 in

the big-game region of Tanganyika resulted in The Green Hills of Africa

(1935), an account of big-game hunting. Mostly for the fishing, he bought a

house in Key West, Florida, and bought his own fishing boat. A minor novel

of 1937 called To Have and Have Not is about a Caribbean desperado and is

set against a background of lower-class violence and upper-class decadence

in Key West during the Great Depression.By now Spain was in the midst of

civil war. Still deeply attached to that country, Hemingway made four trips

there, once more a correspondent. He raised money for the Republicans in

their struggle against the Nationalists under General Francisco Franco, and

he wrote a play called The Fifth Column (1938), which is set in besieged

Madrid. As in many of his books, the protagonist of the play is based on

the author. Following his last visit to the Spanish war he purchased Finca

Vigia ("Lookout Farm"), an unpretentious estate outside Havana, Cuba, and

went to cover another war--the Japanese invasion of China.

The harvest of Hemingway's considerable experience of Spain in war and

peace was the novel For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), a substantial and

impressive work that some critics consider his finest novel, in preference

to A Farewell to Arms. It was also the most successful of all his books as

measured in sales. Set during the Spanish Civil War, it tells of Robert

Jordan, an American volunteer who is sent to join a guerrilla band behind

the Nationalist lines in the Guadarrama Mountains. Most of the novel

concerns Jordan's relations with the varied personalities of the band,

including the girl Maria, with whom he falls in love. Through dialogue,

flashbacks, and stories, Hemingway offers telling and vivid profiles of the

Spanish character and unsparingly depicts the cruelty and inhumanity

stirred up by the civil war. Jordan's mission is to blow up a strategic

bridge near Segovia in order to aid a coming Republican attack, which he

realizes is doomed to fail. In an atmosphere of impending disaster, he

blows up the bridge but is wounded and makes his retreating comrades leave

him behind, where he prepares a last-minute resistance to his Nationalist

pursuers.All of his life Hemingway was fascinated by war--in A Farewell to

Arms he focused on its pointlessness, in For Whom the Bell Tolls on the

comradeship it creates--and as World War II progressed he made his way to

London as a journalist. He flew several missions with the Royal Air Force

and crossed the English Channel with American troops on D-Day (June 6,


Attaching himself to the 22nd Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division, he

saw a good deal of action in Normandy and in the Battle of the Bulge. He

also participated in the liberation of Paris and, although ostensibly a

journalist, he impressed professional soldiers not only as a man of courage

in battle but also as a real expert in military matters, guerrilla

activities, and intelligence collection.Following the war in Europe,

Hemingway returned to his home in Cuba and began to work seriously again.

He also traveled widely, and on a trip to Africa he was injured in a plane

crash. Soon after (in 1953), he received the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for

The Old Man and the Sea (1952), a short, heroic novel about an old Cuban

fisherman who, after an extended struggle, hooks and boats a giant marlin

only to have it eaten by voracious sharks during the long voyage home.

This book, which played a role in gaining for Hemingway the Nobel

Prize for Literature in 1954, was as enthusiastically praised as his

previous novel, Across the River and into the Trees (1950), the story of a

professional army officer who dies while on leave in Venice, had been

damned.By 1960 Fidel Castro's revolution had driven Hemingway from Cuba. He

settled in Ketchum, Idaho, and tried to lead his life and do his work as

before. For a while he succeeded, but, anxiety-ridden and depressed, he was

twice hospitalized at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where he

received electroshock treatments. Two days after his return to the house in

Ketchum, he took his life with a shotgun. Hemingway had married four times

and fathered three sons.He left behind a substantial amount of manuscript,

some which has been published. A Moveable Feast, an entertaining memoir of

his years in Paris (1921-26) before he was famous, was issued in 1964.

Islands in the Stream, three closely related novellas growing directly out

of his peacetime memories of the Caribbean island of Bimini, of Havana

during World War II, and of searching for U-boats off Cuba, appeared in

1970.Hemingway's characters plainly embody his own values and view of life.

The main characters of The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, and For

Whom the Bell Tolls are young men whose strength and self-confidence

nevertheless coexist with a sensitivity that leaves them deeply scarred by

their wartime experiences. War was for Hemingway a potent symbol of the

world, which he viewed as complex, filled with moral ambiguities, and

offering almost unavoidable pain, hurt, and destruction. To survive in such

a world, and perhaps emerge victorious, one must conduct oneself with

honour, courage, endurance, and dignity, a set of principles known as "the

Hemingway code."

To behave well in the lonely, losing battle with life is to show "grace

under pressure" and constitutes in itself a kind of victory, a theme

clearly established in The Old Man and the Sea.Hemingway's prose style was

probably the most widely imitated of any in the 20th century. He wished to

strip his own use of language of inessentials, ridding it of all traces of

verbosity, embellishment, and sentimentality. In striving to be as

objective and honest as possible, Hemingway hit upon the device of

describing a series of actions using short, simple sentences from which all

comment or emotional rhetoric have been eliminated. These sentences are

composed largely of nouns and verbs, have few adjectives and adverbs, and

rely on repetition and rhythm for much of their effect. The resulting

terse, concentrated prose is concrete and unemotional yet is often resonant

and capable of conveying great irony through understatement. Hemingway's

use of dialogue was similarly fresh, simple, and natural-sounding. The

influence of this style was felt worldwide wherever novels were written,

particularly from the 1930s through the '50s.A consummately contradictory

man, Hemingway achieved a fame surpassed by few, if any, American authors

of the 20th century. The virile nature of his writing, which attempted to

re-create the exact physical sensations he experienced in wartime, big-game

hunting, and bullfighting, in fact masked an aesthetic sensibility of great

delicacy. He was a celebrity long before he reached middle age, but his

popularity continues to be validated by serious critical opinion.


Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois, in the summer of 1899.

As a young man, he left home to become a newspaper writer in Kansas City.

Early in 1918, he joined the Italian Red Cross and became an ambulance

driver in Italy, serving in the battlefield in the First World War, in

which the Italians allied with the British, the French, and the Americans,

against Germany and Austria-Hungary. In Italy, he observed the carnage and

the brutality of the Great War firsthand. On July 8, 1918, a trench mortar

shell struck him while he crouched beyond the front lines with three

Italian soldiers.

Though Hemingway embellished the story of his wounding over the years,

this much is certain: he was transferred to a hospital in Milan, where he

fell in love with a Red Cross nurse named Agnes von Kurowsky. Scholars are

divided over Agnes' role in Hemingway's life and writing, but there is

little doubt that his affair with her provided the background for A

Farewell to Arms, which many critics consider to be Hemingway's greatest


Published in 1929, A Farewell to Arms tells the story of Frederic

Henry, a young American ambulance driver and first lieutenant ("Tenente")

in the Italian army. Hit in the leg by a trench mortar shell in the

fighting between Italy and Austria-Hungary, Henry is transferred to a

hospital in Milan, where he falls in love with an English Red Cross nurse

named Catherine Barkley. The similarities to Hemingway's own life are


After the war, when he had published several novels and become a famous

writer, Hemingway claimed that the account of Henry's wounding in A

Farewell to Arms was the most accurate version of his own wounding he had

ever written. Hemingway's life certainly gave the novel a trenchant

urgency, and its similarity to his own experience no doubt helped him

refine the terse, realistic, descriptive style for which he became famous,

and which made him one of the most influential American writers of the

twentieth century.


Book I, Chapters 1-6

Frederic Henry begins his story by describing his situation: he is an

American in the Italian army near the front with Austria-Hungary, a mile

from the fighting. Every day he sees troops marching and hears gunfire;

often the King rides through the town. A cholera epidemic has spread

through the army, he says, but only seven thousand die of it.

His unit moves to a town in Gorizia, further from the fighting, which

continues in the mountains beyond. His situation is relatively enjoyable;

the town is not badly damaged, with nice cafes and two brothels--one for

the officers and one for the enlisted men. One day Henry sits in the mess

hall with a group of fellow officers taunting the military priest. A

captain accuses the priest of cavorting with women, and the priest blushes;

though he is not religious, Henry treats the priest kindly. After teasing

the priest, the Italians argue over where Henry should take his leave;

because the winter is approaching, the fighting will ease, and Henry, an

ambulance driver, will be able to spend some time away from the front. The

priest encourages him to visit the cold, clear country of Abruzzo, but the

other men have other suggestions.

When he returns from his leave, Henry discusses his trip with his

roommate, the surgeon Rinaldi. Henry claims to have traveled throughout

Italy, and Rinaldi, who is obsessed with beautiful girls, tells him about a

group of new English women and claims to be in love with a Miss Barkley.

Henry loans him fifty lire (Italian money). At dinner that night, the

priest is hurt that Henry failed to visit Abruzzi. Henry feels guilty, and

tells him that he wanted to visit Abruzzi.

The next morning, Henry examines the gun batteries and quizzes the

mechanics; then he travels to visit Miss Barkley and the English nurses

with Rinaldi. He is immediately struck by Miss Barkley's beauty, and

especially by her long blonde hair. Miss Barkley tells Henry that her

fiancee was killed in the battle of the Somme, and Henry tells her he has

never loved anyone. On the way back, Rinaldi observes that Miss Barkley

liked Henry more than she liked Rinaldi, but that her friend, Helen

Ferguson, was nice too.

The next day, Henry calls on Miss Barkley again. The head nurse

expresses surprise that an American would want to join the Italian army,

and tells him that Miss Barkley is gone-- but says that Henry may come back

to see her at seven o'clock that night. Henry drives back along the

trenches, eats dinner, then returns to see Miss Barkley. He finds her

waiting with Helen Ferguson; Helen excuses herself, and Henry tries to put

his arm around her. She refuses, but allows him to kiss her. Then she

begins to cry, and Henry is annoyed. When Henry goes home, Rinaldi is


Three nights later, Henry sees Miss Barkley again; she tells him to

call her Catherine. They walk through the garden, and Henry tells Catherine

he loves her, though he knows he does not. They kiss again, and he thinks

of their relationship as an elaborate game. To his surprise, she suddenly

tells him that he plays the game very well, but that it is a rotten game.

Henry sees Rinaldi later that evening, and Rinaldi, observing Henry's

romantic confusion, feel glad that he did not become involved with a

British nurse.

Book I, Chapters 7-12

Driving back from his post, Henry picks up a soldier with a hernia;

they discuss the War, and Henry arranges a way to get the man to a

hospital. Henry thinks about the War, and realizes that he feels no danger

from it. At dinner that night, the men drink and tease the priest; Henry

nearly forgets he had promised to go see Catherine, and before he rushes

over, Rinaldi gives him some coffee to sober him up. At the nurses' villa,

Helen Ferguson tells Henry that Catherine is sick and will not see him.

Henry feels guilty and surprisingly lonely.

The next day an attack is scheduled. Henry goes to see Catherine, and

she gives him a Saint Anthony medal. He spends the day driving to the spot

where the fighting will take place.Henry and his men wait in the trenches

as the shelling begins. They are hungry, and Henry risks being shot to

fetch some cheese. As he sits down to eat it, he hears a loud noise and

sees a flash and believes he has died. A trench mortar shell has struck him

in the leg. Wounded men fall all around him.

Henry's surviving men carry him to safety; a British doctor treats him

on the field, then sends him in an ambulance to the field hospital. Henry

lies in intense pain. Rinaldi comes to visit him at the field hospital, and

tells Henry that he will get a medal. Henry shows no interest in medals.

Rinaldi leaves him a bottle of cognac and promises to send Miss Barkley to

see him soon.

At dusk, the priest comes to visit. They discuss the war, then God.

Henry tells the priest he does not love God--he says he does not love

anything much. The priest tells him he will find love, and it will make him

happy. Henry claims to have always been happy, but the priest says Henry

will know another kind of happiness when he finds it. Half delirious, Henry

thinks about Italian towns, then falls asleep.

Rinaldi and a Major from their group come to visit Henry the night

before he moves to a better hospital in Milan. Henry is still half-

delirious, and they drink profusely. After a confused conversation, Henry

falls into a drunken sleep. The next day, he is taken on a train to Milan.

Book II, Chapters 13-17

At Milan, Frederic Henry is taken to the American hospital. A young,

pretty nurse named Miss Gage makes his bed and takes his temperature. The

head nurse, Miss Van Campen, irritates Henry by not allowing him to have

wine. Henry pays some Italians to sneak wine into his room with the evening


In the morning, Miss Gage tells Henry that Miss Barkley has come to

work at the hospital--she claims not to like her, but Henry tells her she

will learn to like her. The porter brings a barber to shave Henry, but the

barber mistakes Henry for an Austrian soldier and threatens to cut his

throat. After the barber and the porter leave, Miss Barkley comes in, and

Henry realizes he is in love with her. He pulls her down into the bed with

him, and they make love for the first time.

Henry goes through a round of doctors who remove some of the shrapnel

from his leg. The doctors seem incompetent, and tell Henry he will have to

wait six months for an operation if he wants to keep his leg. He cannot

stand the thought of spending six months in bed, and asks for another

opinion; the house doctor says he will send for Dr. Valentini. When Dr.

Valentini comes, he is cheerful, energetic, and competent and says he will

perform the operation in the morning.Catherine spends the night in Henry's

room, and they see a bat. Catherine prepares him for the operation, and

warns him not to talk about their affair while under the anaesthetic.

After the operation, Henry is very sick. As he recovers, three other

patients come to the hospital--a boy from Georgia with malaria, a boy from

New York with malaria and jaundice, and a boy who tried to unscrew the fuse

cap from an explosive shell for a souvenir. Henry develops an appreciation

for Helen Ferguson, who helps him pass notes to Catherine while she is on

duty. Catherine continues to stay with Henry every night, but Henry and

Miss Gage finally convince her to take three nights off of night duty--Miss

Van Campen has commented that Henry always sleeps till noon.

Book II, Chapters 18-24

That summer Henry learns to walk on crutches, and he and Catherine

enjoy Milan. They befriend the headwaiter at a restaurant called the Gran

Italia, and Catherine continues to see Henry every night. They discuss

marriage, but Catherine remains opposed to the idea for the time being.

They pretend to be married instead. Catherine tells Henry that her love for

him has become her religion.

When not with Catherine, Henry spends time with a soldier named Ettore

Moretti, an Italian from San Francisco who is very proud of his war medals.

Ettore is extremely boastful about his military prowess, and Catherine

finds him annoying and dull. One night Henry and Catherine lie in bed

listening to the rain, and Catherine asks Henry if he will always love her.

She says she is afraid of the rain, and begins to cry.

Henry and Catherine go to the races with Helen Ferguson, whom Henry now

calls "Fergie," and the boy who tried to unscrew the nose cap on the

shrapnel shell. They bet on a horse backed by a racing expert and former

criminal named Mr. Myers; they win, but Catherine feels dissatisfied, so

they pick a horse for the next race on their own. Even though they lose,

Catherine feels much better.

By September, Henry's leg is nearly healed. He receives some leave time

from the hospital, and Catherine tells him she will arrange to go with him.

She then gives him a piece of startling news: she is six months pregnant.

Catherine worries that Henry feels trapped, and promises not to make

trouble for him, but he tells her he feels cheerful and thinks she is

wonderful. Catherine talks about the obstacles they will face, and mentions

the old quote about how the coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave but

one. She says that, in reality, the brave man dies perhaps two thousand

deaths in his imagination--he simply does not mention them.

The next morning it begins to rain, and Henry is diagnosed with

jaundice. Miss Van Campen finds empty liquor bottles in Henry's room, and

accuses him of producing jaundice through alcoholism to avoid being sent

back to the front. Miss Gage helps Henry clear things up, but in the end he

loses his leave time.

Henry prepares to travel back to the front. He buys a new pistol, and

takes Catherine to a hotel. The hotel makes Catherine feel like a

prostitute, but before the night is over they feel at home there. Before

midnight, they walk downstairs and Henry calls a carriage for Catherine.

They have a brief good-bye, and Henry boards the crowded train that will

take him back to the war.

Book III, Chapters 25-28

After returning to Gorizia, Henry has a talk with the major about the

war--it was a bad year, the major says; Henry was lucky to get hit when he

did. Henry then goes to find Rinaldi; while he waits for his friend, he

thinks about Catherine. Rinaldi comes into the room and is glad to see

Henry; concerned, he examines Henry's wounded knee. He says that he has

become a skilled surgeon from the constant work with the wounded, but now

that the fighting has died down temporarily he has a frustrating lack of

work. They talk about Catherine, and at dinner the officers tease the


After dinner, Henry goes to talk with the priest. The priest thinks the

war will end soon, but Henry remains skeptical. After the priest leaves,

Henry goes to sleep; he wakes when Rinaldi comes back, but quickly falls

asleep again.

The next morning, he travels to the Bainsizza area, and sees the damage

caused by the war: the whole village is destroyed. Henry meets a man named

Gino, and they discuss the fighting. Gino says the summer's losses were not

in vain, and Henry falls silent--he says words like those embarrass him. He

says that the names of villages and the numbers of streets have more

meaning than words like sacred and glorious.That night, the rain comes down

hard, and the Croatians begin a bombardment. In the morning, the Italians

learn that the attacking forces include Germans, and they become very

afraid--they have had little contact with the Germans in the war so far,

and prefer to keep it that way. The next night, the Italian line has been

broken, and the Italian forces begin a large-scale retreat.

As the forces slowly move out, Henry returns to the villa, but finds it

empty; Rinaldi is gone with the hospital. Henry finds the drivers under his

command, including Piani, Bonello, and Aymo. Before leaving in the morning,

Henry gets a good night's sleep.

They drive out slowly through the town, in an endless line of soldiers

and vehicles. Henry takes a turn sleeping, and shortly after he wakes, the

column stalls. He finds that Bonello has given two engineer sergeants a

ride, and Aymo has two girls in his car. Exhausted, Henry falls asleep

again, and dreams of Catherine.That night, columns of peasants join the

retreating army. In the early morning Henry and his men stop briefly at a

farmhouse, eating a large breakfast. Soon, they continue slowly on their

way, rejoining the line of trucks and soldiers.

Book III, Chapters 29-32

Aymo's car gets stuck in the soft ground; the men are forced to cut

brush hurriedly to place under the tires for traction. Henry orders the two

engineer sergeants riding with Bonello to help; afraid of being overtaken

by the enemy, they refuse, and try to leave. Henry draws his gun and shoots

one of them, but the other escapes. Bonello takes Henry's pistol and kills

the wounded sergeant.

They begin to cut branches and twigs; in the end, they are unable to

save the car. Henry gives some money to the two girls travelling with Aymo

and encourages them to go down to a nearby village, Aymo gets in Henry's

vehicle, and they set out, now cut off from the main column.

Crossing a bridge, Henry sees a nearby car full of German soldiers. As

they travel, they begin to notice more and more signs of German occupation,

and they worry that they have been completely cut off from Italian-

controlled land. They proceed with caution; a sudden burst of gunfire kills

Aymo. They realize he was shot by the Italian rear guard--the Italians are

ahead, but because the rear guard is afraid, they are almost as dangerous

as the Germans.

Fearing death, Bonello leaves in hopes of being taken prisoner. The men

hide in a barn that night, and in the morning they rejoin the Italians. The

enlisted men become furious with the officers, and Piani is afraid they

will try to kill Henry. Suddenly, two men (battle police) seize hold of

Henry. They seize Henry because he is a foreigner, and in the chaos of the

retreat they intend to shoot him for a spy. When they look away for a

moment, Henry dives into the river and swims away.

After floating in the river for what seems like a very long time, Henry

climbs out, removes the stars from his shirt, and counts his money. He

crosses the Venetian plain that day, then jumps aboard a military train

that evening, hiding under a canvas with guns.

Lying under the canvas, Henry thinks about the army, about the war, and

about Catherine. He realizes that he will be pronounced dead, and assumes

he will never see Rinaldi again. Rinaldi has been concerned he will die of

syphilis, and Henry worries for him. Exhausted and hungry, he imagines

finding Catherine and going away with her to a safe place.

Book V, Chapters 38-41

That fall, Henry and Catherine live in a brown wooden house on the side

of a mountain. They enjoy the company of Mr. and Mrs. Guttingen, who live

downstairs, and they remain very happy together; sometimes they walk down

the mountain path in Montreux. One day Catherine gets her hair done in

Montreux, and afterwards they go to have a beer--Catherine thinks beer is

good for the baby, because it will keep it small; she is worried about the

baby's size because the doctor has said she has a narrow pelvis. They talk

again about getting married, but Catherine wants to wait until after the

baby is born when she will be thin again.

Three days before Christmas, the snow comes. Catherine asks Henry if he

feels restless, and he says no, though he does wonder about his friends on

the front, such as Rinaldi and the priest.

Henry decides to grow a beard and by mid-January, he has one. Through

January and February he and Catherine remain very happy; in March they move

into town to be near the hospital. They stay in a hotel there for three

weeks; Catherine buys baby clothes, Henry works out in the gym, and they

both feel that the baby will arrive soon.

Finally, around three o'clock one morning, Catherine goes into labor.

They go to the hospital, where Catherine is given a nightgown and a room.

She encourages Henry to go out for breakfast, and he does, talking to the

old man who serves him. When he returns to the hospital, he finds that

Catherine has been taken to the delivery room. He goes in to see her; the

doctor stands by, and Catherine takes an anaesthetic gas when her

contractions become very painful. At two o'clock in the afternoon, Henry

goes out for lunch.

He goes back to the hospital; Catherine is now intoxicated from the

gas. The doctor thinks her pelvis is too narrow to allow the baby to pass

through, and advises a Caesarian section. Catherine suffers unbearable pain

and pleads for more gas. Finally they wheel her out on a stretcher to

perform the operation. Henry watches the rain outside.

Soon the doctor comes out and takes Henry to see the baby, a boy. Henry

has no feeling for the child. He then goes to see Catherine, and at first

worries that she is dead. When she asks him about their son, he tells her

he was fine, and the nurse gives him a quizzical look. Ushering him

outside, the nurse tells him that the boy is not fine--he strangled on the

umbilical cord, and never began to breathe.

He goes out for dinner, and when he returns the nurse tells him that

Catherine is hemorrhaging. He is filled with terror that she will die. When

he is allowed to see her, she tells him she will die, and asks him not to

say the same things to other girls. Henry goes into the hallway while they

try to treat Catherine, but nothing works; finally, he goes back into the

room and stays with her until she dies.

The doctor offers to drive him back to the hotel, but Henry declines.

He goes back into the room and tries to say good-bye to Catherine, but says

that it was like saying good-bye to a statue. He leaves the hospital and

walks back to his hotel in the rain


Frederic Henry - The novel's protagonist. A young American ambulance

driver in the Italian army during the First World War, Henry is disciplined

and courageous, but feels detached from life. When introduced to Catherine

Barkley, Henry discovers a capacity for love he had not known he possessed,

and begins a process of development that culminates with his desertion of

the Italian army. Throughout the novel, the Italian soldiers under Henry's

command call him "Tenente"--the Italian word for "lieutenant."

Catherine Barkley - An English nurse who falls in love with Frederic Henry.

Catherine's fiancee was killed in the battle of the Somme before she met

Henry. Catherine has cast aside conventional social values, and lives

according to her own values, devoting herself wholly to her love for Henry.

Her long, beautiful hair is her most distinctive physical feature.

Rinaldi - Frederic's friend, an Italian surgeon. Mischievous and wry,

Rinaldi is nevertheless a passionate and skilled doctor. Rinaldi makes a

practice of always being in love with a beautiful woman, and at the

beginning of the novel is attracted to Catherine Barkley; Rinaldi's

infatuation causes him to introduce Frederic and Catherine to one another.

Helen Ferguson - A friend of Catherine's. Though she remains fond of the

lovers and helps them, Helen is much more committed to social convention

than Henry and Catherine; she vocally disapproves of their "immoral" love


Miss Gage - An American nurse. Miss Gage becomes a friend to both Catherine

and Henry--in fact, she may be in love with Henry. Unlike Helen Ferguson,

she sets aside conventional social values to support their love affair.

Miss Van Campen - The superintendent of nurses at the American hospital

where Catherine works. Miss Van Campen is strict, cold, and unlikable; she

is obsessed with rules and regulations and has no patience for or interest

in individual feelings.

Dr. Valentini - An Italian surgeon who comes to the American hospital. Self-

assured and confident, Dr. Valentini is also a highly talented surgeon.

Frederic Henry takes an immediate liking to him.

Count Greffi - A spry ninety-four year old nobleman. Henry knows Count

Greffi from his time in Stresa, and the two play billiards together toward

the end of the novel. Despite his advanced age, the count is intelligent,

disciplined, and fully committed to life.

The Grapes of Wrath

Full Summary

Chapter One: Steinbeck begins the novel with a description of the dust bowl

climate of Oklahoma. The dust was so thick that men and women had to remain

in their houses, and when they had to leave they tied handkerchiefs over

their faces and wore goggles to protect their eyes. After the wind had

stopped, an even blanket of dust covered the earth. The corn crop was

ruined. Everybody wondered what they would do. The women and children knew

that no misfortune was too great to bear if their men were whole, but the

men had not yet figured out what to do.

Chapter Two: A man approaches a small diner where a large red transport

truck is parked. The man is under thirty, with dark brown eyes and high

cheekbones. He wore new clothes that don't quite fit. The truck driver

exits from the diner and the man asks him for a ride, despite the "No

Riders" sticker on the truck. The man claims that sometimes a guy will do a

good thing even when a rich bastard makes him carry a sticker, and the

driver, feeling trapped by the statement, lets the man have a ride. While

driving, the truck driver asks questions, and the man finally gives his

name, Tom Joad. The truck driver claims that guys do strange things when

they drive trucks, such as make up poetry, because of the loneliness of the

job. The truck driver claims that his experience driving has trained his

memory and that he can remember everything about a person he passes.

Realizing that the truck driver is pressing for information, Tom finally

admits that he had just been released from McAlester prison for homicide.

He had been sentenced to seven years and was released after only four, for

good behavior.

Chapter Three: At the side of the roadside, a turtle crawled, dragging his

shell over the grass. He came to the embankment at the road and, with great

effort, climbed onto the road. As the turtle attempts to cross the road, it

is nearby hit by a sedan. A truck swerves to hit the turtle, but its wheel

only strikes the edge of its shell and spins it back off the highway. The

turtle lays on its back, but finally pulls itself over.

Chapter Four: After getting out of the truck, Tom Joad begins walking home.

He sees the turtle of the previous chapter and picks it up. He stops in the

shade of a tree to rest and meets a man who sits there, singing "Jesus is

My Savior." The man, Jim Casy, had a long, bony frame and sharp features. A

former minister, he recognizes Tom immediately. He was a "Burning Busher"

who used to "howl out the name of Jesus to glory," but he lost the calling

because he has too many sinful ideas that seem sensible. Tom tells Casy

that he took the turtle for his little brother, and he replies that nobody

can keep a turtle, for they eventually just go off on their own. Casy

claims that he doesn't know where he's going now, and Tom tells him to lead

people, even if he doesn't know where to lead them. Casy tells Tom that

part of the reason he quit preaching was that he too often succumbed to

temptation, having sex with many of the girls he saved.' Finally he

realized that perhaps what he was doing wasn't a sin, and there isn't

really sin or virtue there are simply things people do.

He realized he didn't know Jesus,' he merely knew the stories of the

Bible. Tom tells Casy why he was in jail: he was at a dance drunk, and got

in a fight with a man. The man cut Tom with a knife, so he hit him over the

head with a shovel. Tom tells him that he was treated relatively well in

McAlester. He ate regularly, got clean clothes and bathed. He even tells

about how someone broke his parole to go back. Tom tells how his father

stole' their house. There was a family living there that moved away, so

his father, uncle and grandfather cut the house in two and dragged part of

it first, only to find that Wink Manley took the other half. They get to

the boundary fence of their property, and Tom tells him that they didn't

need a fence, but it gave Pa a feeling that their forty acres was forty

acres. Tom and Casy get to the house: something has happened nobody is


Chapter Five: This chapter describes the coming of the bank representatives

to evict the farmers. Some of the men were kind because they knew how cruel

their job was, while some were angry because they hated to be cruel, and

others were merely cold and hardened by their job. They are mostly pawns of

a system that they can merely obey. The tenant system has become untenable

for the banks, for one man on a tractor can take the place of a dozen

families. The farmers raise the possibility of armed insurrection, but what

would they fight against? They will be murderers if they stay, fighting

against the wrong targets.

Steinbeck describes the arrival of the tractors. They crawled over the

ground, cutting the earth like surgery and violating it like rape. The

tractor driver does his job simply out of necessity: he has to feed his

kids, even if it comes at the expense of dozens of families. Steinbeck

dramatizes a conversation between a truck driver and an evicted tenant

farmer. The farmer threatens to kill the driver, but even if he does so, he

will not stop the bank. Another driver will come. Even if the farmer

murders the president of the bank and board of directors, the bank is

controlled by the East. There is no effective target which could prevent

the evictions.

Chapter Six: Casy and Tom approached the Joad home. The house was mashed at

one corner and appeared deserted. Casy says that it looks like the arm of

the Lord had struck. Tom can tell that Ma isn't there, for she would have

never left the gate unhooked. They only see one resident (the cat), but Tom

wonders why the cat didn't go to find another family if his family had

moved, or why the neighbors hadn't taken the rest of the belongings in the

house. Muley Graves approaches, a short, lean old man with the truculent

look of an ornery child. Muley tells Tom that his mother was worrying about

him. His family was evicted, and had to move in with his Uncle John. They

were forced to chop cotton to make enough money to go west. Casy suggests

going west to pick grapes in California. Muley tells Tom and Casy that the

loss of the farm broke up his family his wife and kids went off to

California, while Muley chose to stay. He has been forced to eat wild game.

He muses about how angry he was when he was told he had to get off the

land. First he wanted to kill people, but then his family left and Muley

was left alone and wandering. He realized that he is used to the place,

even if he has to wander the land like a ghost. Tom tells them that he

can't go to California, for it would mean breaking parole. According to

Tom, prison has not changed him significantly. He thinks that if he saw

Herb Turnbull, the man he killed, coming after him with a knife again, he

would still hit him with the shovel. Tom tells them that there was a man in

McAlester that read a great deal about prisons and told him that they

started a long time ago and now cannot be stopped, despite the fact that

they do not actually rehabilitate people. Muley tells them that they have

to hide, for they are trespassing on the land. They have to hide in a cave

for the night.

Chapter Seven: The car dealership owners look at their customers. They

watch for weaknesses, such as a woman who wants an expensive car and can

push her husband into buying one. They attempt to make the customers feel

obliged. The proffts come from selling jalopies, not from new and

dependable cars. There are no guarantees, hidden costs and obvious flaws.

Chapter Eight: Tom and Casy reach Uncle John's farm. They remark that

Muley's lonely and covert lifestyle has obviously driven him insane.

According to Tom, his Uncle John is equally crazy, and wasn't expected to

live long, yet is older than his father. Still, he is tougher and meaner

than even Grampa, hardened by losing his young wife years ago. They see Pa

Joad fixing the truck. When he sees Tom, he assumes that he broke out of

jail. They go in the house and see Ma Joad, a heavy woman thick with child-

bearing and work. Her face was controlled and kindly. She worries that Tom

went mad in prison. This chapter also introduces Grampa and Granma Joad.

She is as tough as he is, once shooting her husband while she was speaking

in tongues. Noah Joad, Tom's older brother, is a strange man, slow and

withdrawn, with little pride and few urges. He may have been brain damaged

at childbirth. The family has dinner, and Casy says grace. He talks about

how Jesus went off into the wilderness alone, and how he did the same. Yet

what Casy concluded was that mankind was holy. Pa tells Tom about Al, his

sixteen-year old brother, who is concerned with little more than girls and

cars. He hasn't been at home at night for a week. His sister Rosasharn has

married Connie Rivers, and is several months pregnant. They have two

hundred dollars for their journey.

Chapter Nine: This chapter describes the process of selling belongings. The

items pile up in the yard, selling for ridiculously low prices. Whatever is

not sold must be burned, even items of sentimental value that simply cannot

be taken on the journey for lack of space.

Chapter Ten: Ma Joad tells Tom that she is concerned about going to

California, worried that it won't turn out well, for the only information

they have is from flyers they read. Casy asks to accompany them to

California. He wants to work in the fields, where he can listen to people

rather than preach to them. Tom says that preaching is a tone of voice and

a style, being good to people when they don't respond to it. Pa and Uncle

John return with the truck, and prepare to leave. The two children, twelve-

year old Ruthie and ten-year old Winfield are there with their older

sister, Rose of Sharon (Rosasharn) and her husband. They discuss how Tom

can't leave the state because of his parole. They have a family conference

that night and discuss a number of issues: they decide to allow Casy to go

with them, since it's the only right thing for them to do. They continue

with preparations, killing the pigs to have food to take with them. While

Casy helps out Ma Joad with food preparation, he remarks to Tom that she

looks tired, as if she is sick. Ma Joad looks through her belongings, going

through old letters and clippings she had saved. She has to place them in

the fire. Before they leave, Muley Graves stops to say goodbye. Noah tells

him that he's going to die out in the field if he stays, but Muley accepts

his fate. Grampa refuses to leave, so they decide to give him medicine that

will knock him out and take him with them.

Chapter Eleven: The houses were left vacant. Only the tractor sheds of

gleaming iron and silver were alive. Yet when the tractors are at rest the

life goes out of them. The work is easy and efficient, so easy that the

wonder goes out of the work and so efficient that the wonder goes out of

the land and the working of it. In the tractor man there grows the contempt

that comes to a stranger who has little understanding and no relation to

the land. The abandoned houses slowly fall apart.

Chapter Twelve: Highway 66 is the main migrant road stretching from the

Mississippi to Bakersfield, California. It is a road of flight for refugees

from the dust and shrinking land. The people streamed out on 66, possibly

breaking down in their undependable cars on the way. Yet the travelers face

obstacles. California is a big state, but not big enough to support all of

the workers who are coming. The border patrol can turn people back. The

high wages that are promised may be false.

Chapter Thirteen: The Joads continue on their travels. Al remarks that they

may have trouble getting over mountains in their car, which can barely

support its weight. Grampa Joad wakes up and insists that he's not going

with them. They stop at a gas station where the owner automatically assumes

they are broke, and tells them that people often stop, begging for gas. The

owner claims that fifty cars per day go west, but wonders what they expect

when they reach their destination. He tells how one family traded their

daughter's doll for some gas. Casy wonders what the nation is coming to,

since people seem unable to make a decent living. Casy says that he used to

use his energy to fight against the devil, believing that the devil was the

enemy. However, now he believes that there's something worse. The Joad's

dog wanders from the car and is run over in the road. They continue on

their journey and begin to worry when they reach the state line. However,

Tom reassures them that he is only in danger if he commits a crime.

Otherwise, nobody will know that he has broken his parole by leaving the

state. On their next stop for the night, the Joads meet the Wilsons, a

family from Kansas that is going to California. Grampa complains of

illness, and weeps. The family thinks that he may suffer a stroke. Granma

tells Casy to pray for Grampa, even if he is no longer a preacher. Suddenly

Grampa starts twitching and slumps. He dies. The Joads face a choice: they

can pay fifty dollars for a proper burial for him or have him buried a

pauper. They decide to bury Grampa themselves and leave a note so that

people don't assume he was murdered. The Wilsons help them bury Grampa.

They write a verse from scripture on the note on his grave. After burying

Grampa, they have Casy say a few words. The reactions to the death are

varied. Rose of Sharon comforts Granma, while Uncle John is curiously

unmoved by the turn of events. Casy admits that he knew Grampa was dying,

but didn't say anything because he couldn't have helped. He blames the

separation from the land for Grampa's death. The Joads and the Sairy Wilson

decide to help each other on the journey by spreading out the load between

their two cars so that both families will make it to California.

Chapter Fourteen: The Western States are nervous about the impending

changes, including the widening government, growing labor unity, and

strikes. However, they do not realize that these are results of change and

not causes of it. The cause is the hunger of the multitude. The danger that

they face is that the people's problems have moved from "I" to "we."

Chapter Fifteen: This chapter begins with a description of the hamburger

stands and diners on Route 66. The typical diner is run by a usually

irritated woman who nevertheless becomes friendly when truck drivers

consistent customers who can always pay enter. The more wealthy travelers

drop names and buy vanity products. The owners of the diners complain about

the migrating workers, who can't pay and often steal. A family comes in,

wanting to buy a loaf of bread. The one owner, Mae, tells them that they're

not a grocery store, but Al, the other, tells them to just sell the bread.

Mae sells the family candy for reduced prices. Mae and Al wonder what such

families will do once they reach California.

Chapter Sixteen: The Joads and the Wilsons continue on their travels. Rose

of Sharon discusses with her mother what they will do when they reach

California. She and Connie want to live in a town, where he can get a job

in a store or a factory. He wants to study at home, possibly taking a radio

correspondence course. There is a rattling in the Wilson's car, so Al is

forced to pull over. There are problems with the motor. Sairy Wilson tells

them that they should go on ahead without them, but Ma Joad refuses,

telling them that they are like family now and they won't desert them. Tom

says that he and Casy will stay with the truck if everyone goes on ahead.

They'll fix the car and then move on. Only Ma objects. She refuses to go,

for the only thing that they have left is each other and she will not break

up the family even momentarily. When everyone else objects to her, she even

picks up a jack handle and threatens them. Tom and Casy try to fix the car,

and Casy remarks about how he has seen so many cars moving west, but no

cars going east. Casy predicts that all of the movement and collection of

people in California will change the country. The two of them stay with the

car while the family goes ahead. Before they leave, Al tells Tom that Ma is

worried that he will do something that might break his parole. Granma has

been going crazy, yelling and talking to herself.

Al asks Tom about what he felt when he killed a man. Tom admits that prison

has a tendency to drive a man insane. Tom and Al find a junkyard where they

find a part to replace the broken con-rod in the Wilson's car. The one-eyed

man working at the junkyard complains about his boss, and says that he

might kill him. Tom tells off the one-eyed man for blaming all of his

problems on his eye, and then criticizes Al for his constant worry that

people will blame him for the car breaking down. Tom, Casy and Al rejoin

the rest of the family at a campground not far away. To stay at the

campground, the three would have to pay an additional charge, for they

would be charged with vagrancy if they slept out in the open. Tom, Casy and

Uncle John eventually decide to go on ahead and meet up with everyone else

in the morning. A ragged man at the camp, when he hears that the Joads are

going to pick oranges in California, laughs. The man, who is returning from

California, tells how the handbills are a fraud. They ask for eight hundred

people, but get several thousand people who want to work. This drives down

wages. The proprietor of the campground suspects that the ragged man is

trying to stir up trouble for labor.

Chapter Seventeen: A strange thing happened for the migrant laborers.

During the day, as they traveled, the cars were separate and lonely, yet in

the evening a strange thing happened: at the campgrounds where they stayed

the twenty or so families became one. Their losses and their concerns

became communal. The families were at first timid, but they gradually built

small societies within the campgrounds, with codes of behavior and rights

that must be observed. For transgressions, there were only two punishments:

violence or ostracism. Leaders emerged, generally the wise elders. The

various families found connections to one another

Chapter Eighteen: When the Joads reach Arizona, a border guard stops them

and nearly turns them back, but does let them continue. They eventually

reach the desert of California. The terrain is barren and desolate. While

washing themselves during a stop, the Joads encounter migrant workers who

want to turn back. They tell them that the Californians hate the migrant

workers. A good deal of the land is owned by the Land and Cattle Company

that leaves the land largely untouched. Sheriffs push around migrant

workers, whom they derisively call "Okies." Noah tells Tom that he is going

to leave everyone, for they don't care about him. Although Tom protests,

Noah leaves them. Granma remains ill, suffering from delusions. She

believes that she sees Grampa. A Jehovite woman visits their tent to help

Granma, and tells Ma that she will die soon. The woman wants to organize a

prayer meeting, but Ma orders them not to do so. Nevertheless, soon she can

hear from a distance chanting and singing that eventually descends into

crying. Granma whines with the whining, then eventually falls asleep. Rose

of Sharon wonders where Connie is. Deputies come to the tent and tell Ma

that they cannot stay there and that they don't want any Okies around. Tom

returns to the tent after the policeman leaves, and is glad that he wasn't

there; he admits that he would have hit the cop. He tells Ma about Noah.

The Wilsons decide to remain even if they face arrest, since Sairy is too

sick to leave without any rest. Sairy asks Casy to say a prayer for her.

The Joads move on, and at a stop a boy remarks how hard-looking Okies are

and how they are less than human. Uncle John speaks with Casy, worried that

he brings bad luck to people. Connie and Rose of Sharon need privacy. Yet

again the Joads are pulled over for inspection, but Ma Joad insists that

they must continue because Granma needs medical attention. The next morning

when they reach the orange groves, Ma tells them that Granma is dead. She

died before they were pulled over for inspection.

Chapter Nineteen: California once belonged to Mexico and its land to the

Mexicans. But a horde of tattered feverish American poured in, with such

great hunger for the land that they took it. Farming became an industry as

the Americans took over. They imported Chinese, Japanese, Mexican and

Filipino workers who became essentially slaves. The owners of the farms

ceased to be farmers and became businessmen. They hated the Okies who came

because they could not profft from them. Other laborers hated the Okies

because they pushed down wages. While the Californians had aspirations of

social success and luxury, the barbarous Okies only wanted land and food.

Hoovervilles arose at the edge of every town. The Okies were forced to

secretly plant gardens in the evenings. The deputies overreacted to the

Okies, spurred by stories that an eleven year old Okie shot a deputy. The

great owners realized that when property accumulates in too few hands it is

taken away and that when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they

will take by force what they need.

Chapter Twenty: The Joads take Granma to the Bakersfield coroner's office.

They can't afford a funeral for her. They go to a camp to stay and ask

about work. They ask a bearded man if he owns the camp and whether they can

stay, and he replies with the same question to them. A younger man tells

them that the crazy old man is called the Mayor. According to the man, the

Mayor has likely been pushed by the police around so much that he's been

made bull-simple (crazy). The police don't want them to settle down, for

then they could draw relief, organize and vote. The younger man tells them

about the handbill fraud, and Tom suggests that everybody organize so that

they could guarantee higher wages. The man warns Tom about the blacklist.

If he is labeled an agitator he will be prevented from getting from

anybody. Tom talks to Casy, who has recently been relatively quiet. Casy

says that the people unorganized are like an army without a harness. Casy

says that he isn't helping out the family and should go off by himself. Tom

tries to convince him to stay at least until the next day, and he relents.

Connie regrets his decision to come with the Joads. He says that if he had

stayed in Oklahoma he could have worked as a tractor driver. When Ma is

fixing dinner, groups of small children approach, asking for food. The

children tell the Joads about Weedpatch, a government camp that is nearby

where no cops can push people around and there is good drinking water. Al

goes around looking for girls, and brags about how Tom killed a man. Al

meets a man named Floyd Knowles, who tells them that there was no steady

work. A woman reprimands Ma Joad for giving her children stew. Al brings

Floyd back to the family, where he says that there will be work up north

around Santa Clara Valley. He tells them to leave quietly, because everyone

else will follow after the work. Al wants to go with Floyd no matter what.

A man arrives in a Chevrolet coupe, wearing a business suit. He tells them

about work picking fruit around Tulare County. Floyd tells the man to show

his license -this is one of the tricks that the contractor uses. Floyd

points out some of the dirty tactics that the contractor is using, such as

bringing along a cop. The cop forces Floyd into the car and says that the

Board of Health might want to shut down their camp. Floyd punched the cop

and ran off. As the deputy chased after him, Tom tripped him. The deputy

raised his gun to shoot Floyd and fires indiscriminately, shooting a woman

in the hand. Suddenly Casy kicked the deputy in the back of the neck,

knocking him unconscious. Casy tells Tom to hide, for the contractor saw

him trip the deputy. More officers come to the scene, and they take away

Casy, who has a faint smile and a look of pride. Rose of Sharon wonders

where Connie has gone. She has not seen him recently. Uncle John admits

that he had five dollars. He kept it to get drunk. Uncle John gives them

the five in exchange for two, which is enough for him. Al tells Rose of

Sharon that he saw Connie, who was leaving. Pa claims that Connie was too

big for his overalls, but Ma scolds him, telling him to act respectfully,

as if Connie were dead. Because the cops are going to burn the camp

tonight, they have to leave. Tom goes to find Uncle John, who has gone off

to get drunk. Tom finds him by the river, singing morosely. He claims that

he wants to die. Tom has to hit him to make him come. Rose of Sharon wants

to wait for Connie to return. They leave the camp, heading north toward the

government camp.

Chapter Twenty-One: The hostility that the migrant workers faced changed

them. They were united as targets of hostility, and this unity made the

little towns of Hoovervilles defend themselves. There was panic when the

migrants multiplied on the highways. The California residents feared them,

thinking them dirty, ignorant degenerates and sexual maniacs. The number of

migrant workers caused the wages to go down. The owners invented a new

method: the great owners bought canneries, where they kept the price of

fruit down to force smaller farmers out. The owners did not know that the

line between hunger and anger is a thin one.

Chapter Twenty-Two: The Joads reach the government camp, where they are

surprised to find that there are toilets and showers and running water. The

watchman at the camp explains some of the other features of the camp: there

is a central committee elected by the camp residents that keeps order and

makes rules, and the camp even holds dance nights. The next morning, two

camp residents (Timothy and Wilkie Wallace) give Tom breakfast and tell him

about work. When they reach the fields where they are to work, Mr. Thomas,

the contractor, tells them that he is reducing wages from thirty to twenty-

five cents per hour. It is not his choice, but rather orders from the

Farmers' Association, which is owned by the Bank of the West. Thomas also

shows them a newspaper, which has a story about a band of citizens who burn

a squatters' camp, infuriated by presumed communist agitation, and warns

them about the dance at the government camp on Saturday night. There will

be a fight in the camp so that the deputies can go in. The Farmers'

Association dislikes the government camps because the people in the camps

become used to being treated humanely and are thus harder to handle. Tom

and the Wallaces vow to make sure that there won't be a fight.

While they work, Wilkie tells Tom that the complaints about agitators are

false. According to the rich owners, any person who wants thirty cents an

hour instead of twenty-five is a red. Back at the camp, Ruthie and Winfield

explore the camp, and are fascinated by the toilets they are frightened by

the flushing sound. Ma Joad makes the rest of the family clean themselves

up before the Ladies Committee comes to visit her. Jim Rawley, the camp

manager, introduces himself to the Joads and tells them some of the

features of the camp. Rose of Sharon goes to take a bath, and learns that a

nurse visits the camp every week and can help her deliver the baby when it

is time. Ma remarks that she no longer feels ashamed, as she had when they

were constantly harassed by the police. Lisbeth Sandry, a religious zealot,

speaks with Rose of Sharon about the alleged sin that goes on during the

dances, and complains about people putting on stage plays, which she calls

sin and delusion and devil stuff.' The woman even blames playacting for a

mother dropping her child. Rose of Sharon becomes frightened upon hearing

this, fearing that she will drop her child. Jessie Bullitt, the head of the

Ladies Committee, gives Ma Joad a tour of the camp and explains some of the

problems. Jessie bickers with Ella Summers, the previous committee head.

The children play and bicker. Pa comforts Uncle John, who still wants to

leave, thinking that he will bring the family punishment. Ma Joad confronts

Lisbeth Sandry for frightening Rose and for preaching that every action is

sinful. Ma becomes depressed about all of the losses Granma and Grampa,

John and Connie because she now has leisure time to think about such


Chapter Twenty-Three: The migrant workers looked for amusement wherever

they could find it, whether in jokes or stories for amusement. They told

stories of heroism in taming the land against the Indians, or about a rich

man who pretended to be poor and fell in love with a rich woman who was

also pretending to be poor. The workers took small pleasures in playing the

harmonica or a more precious guitar or fiddle, or even in getting drunk.

Chapter Twenty-Four: The rumors that the police were going to break up the

dance reached the camp. According to Ezra Huston, the chairman of the

Central Committee, this is a frequent tactic that the police use. Huston

tells Willie Eaton, the head of the entertainment committee, that if he

must hit a deputy, do so where they won't bleed. The camp members say that

the Californians hate them because the migrants might draw relief without

paying income tax, but they refute this, claiming that they pay sales tax

and tobacco tax. At the dance, Willie Eaton approaches Tom and tells him

where to watch for intruders. Ma comforts Rose of Sharon, who is depressed

about Connie. Tom finds the intruders at the dance, but the intruders begin

a fight and immediately the police enter the camp. Huston confronts the

police about the intruders, asking who paid them. They only admit that they

have to make money somehow. Once the problem is defused, the dance goes on

without any problems.

Chapter Twenty-Five: Spring is beautiful in California, for behind the

fruitfulness of the trees in the orchards are men of understanding who

experiment with the seeds and crops to defend them against insects and

disease. Yet the fruits become rotten and soft. The rotten grapes are still

used for wine, even if contaminated with mildew and formic acid. The

rationale is that it is good enough for the poor to get drunk. The decay of

the fruit spreads over the state. The men who have created the new fruits

cannot create a system whereby the fruits may be eaten. There is a crime

here that goes beyond denunciation, a sorrow that weeping cannot symbolize.

Children must die from pellagra because the profft cannot be taken from an


Chapter Twenty-Six: One evening, Ma Joad watches Winfield as he sleeps; he

writhes as he sleeps, and he seems discolored. In the month that the Joads

have been in Weedpatch, Tom has had only five days of work, and the rest of

the men have had none. Ma worries because Rose of Sharon is close to

delivering her baby. Ma reprimands them for becoming discouraged. She tells

them that in such circumstances they don't have the right. Pa fears that

they will have to leave Weedpatch. When Tom mentions work in Marysville, Ma

decides that they will go there, for despite the accommodations at

Weedpatch, they have no opportunity to make money. They plan to go north,

where the cotton will soon be ready for harvest. Regarding Ma Joad's

forceful control of the family, Pa remarks that women seem to be in

control, and it may be time to get out a stick. Ma hears this, and tells

him that she is doing her job as wife, but he certainly isn't doing his job

as husband. Rose of Sharon complains that if Connie hadn't left they would

have had a house by now. Ma pierces Rose of Sharon's ears so that she can

wear small gold earrings. Al parts ways with a blonde girl that he has been

seeing; she rejects his promises that they will eventually get married. He

promises her that he'll return soon, but she does not believe him. Pa

remarks that he only notices that he stinks now that he takes regular

baths. Before they leave, Willie remarks that the deputies don't bother the

residents of Weedpatch because they are united, and that their solution may

be a union.

The car starts to break down as the Joads leave Al has let the battery run

down but he fixes the problem and they continue on their way. Al is

irritable as they leave. He says that he's going out on his own soon to

start a family. On the road, they get a flat tire. While Tom fixes the

tire, a businessman stops in his car and offers them a job picking peaches

forty miles north. They reach the ranch at Pixley where they are to pick

oranges for five cents a box. Even the women and children can do the job.

Ruthie and Winfield worry about settling down in the area and going to

school in California. They assume that everyone will call them Okies. At

the nearby grocery store owned by Hooper Ranch, Ma finds that the prices

are much higher than they would be at the store in town. The sales clerk

lends Ma ten cents for sugar. She tells him that it is only poor people who

will help out. That night, Tom goes for a walk, but a deputy tells him to

walk back to the cabin at the ranch. The deputy claims that if Tom is

alone, the reds will get to him.

While continuing on his walk, Tom finds Casy, who has been released from

jail. He is with a group of men that are on strike. Casy claims that people

who strive for justice always face opposition, citing Lincoln and

Washington, as well as the martyrs of the French Revolution. Casy, Tom and

the rest of the strikers are confronted by the police. A short, heavy man

with a white pick handle swings it at Casy, hitting him in the head. Tom

fights with the man, and eventually wrenches the club from him and strikes

him with it, killing him. Tom immediately fled the scene, crawling through

a stream to get back to the cabin. He cannot sleep that night, and in the

morning tells Ma that he has to hide. He tells her that he was spotted, and

warns his family that they are breaking the strike they are getting five

cents a box only because of this, and today may only get half that amount.

When Tom tells Ma that he is going to leave that night, she tells him that

they aren't a family anymore: Al cares about nothing more than girls, Uncle

John is only dragging along, Pa has lost his place as the head of the

family, and the children are becoming unruly. Rose of Sharon screams at Tom

for murdering the man she thinks that his sin will doom her baby. After a

day of work, Winfield becomes extremely sick from eating peaches. Uncle

John tells Tom that when the police catch him, there will be a lynching.

Tom insists that he must leave, but Ma insists that they leave as a family.

They hide Tom as they leave, taking the back roads to avoid police.

Chapter Twenty-Seven: Those who want to pick cotton must first purchase a

bag before they can make money. The men who weigh the cotton fix the scales

to cheat the workers. The introduction of a cotton-picking machine seems


Chapter Twenty-Eight: The Joads now stay in a boxcar that stood beside the

stream, a small home that proved better than anything except for the

government camp. They were now picking cotton. Winfield tells Ma that

Ruthie told about Tom she got into an argument with some other kids, and

told them that her brother was on the run for committing murder. Ruthie

returns to Ma, crying that the kids stole her Cracker Jack the reason that

she threatened them by telling about Tom but Ma tells her that it was her

own fault for showing off her candy to others. That night, in the pitch

black, Ma Joad goes out into the woods and finds Tom, who has been hiding

out there. She crawls close to him and wants to touch him to remember what

he looked like. She wants to give him seven dollars to take the bus and get

away. He tells her that he has been thinking about Casy, and remembered how

Casy said that he went out into the woods searching for his soul, but only

found that he had no individual soul, but rather part of a larger one. Tom

has been wondering why people can't work together for their living, and

vows to do what Casy had done. He leaves, but promises to return to the

family when everything has blown over. As she left, Ma Joad did not cry,

but rain began to fall. When she returned to the boxcar, she meets Mr. and

Mrs. Wainwright, who have come to talk to the Joads about their daughter,

Aggie, who has been spending time with Al. They're worried that the two

families will part and then find out that Aggie is pregnant. Ma tells them

that she found Tom and that he is gone. Pa laments leaving Oklahoma, while

Ma says that women can deal with change better than a man, because women

have their lives in their arms, and men have it in their heads. For women,

change is more acceptable because it seems inevitable. Al and Aggie return

to the boxcar, and they announce that they are getting married. They go out

before dawn to pick cotton before everyone else can get the rest, and Rose

of Sharon vows to go with them, even though she can barely move. When they

get to the place where the cotton is being picked, there are already a

number of families. While picking cotton, it suddenly starts to rain,

causing Rose of Sharon to fall ill. Everybody assumes that she is about to

deliver, but she instead suffers from a chill. They take her back to the

boxcar and start a fire to get her warm.

Chapter Twenty-Nine: The migrant families wondered how long the rain would

last. The rain damaged cars and penetrated tents. During the rain storms

some people went to relief offices, but there were rules: one had to live

in California a year before he could collect relief. The greatest terror

had arrived no work would be available for three months. Hungry men

crowded the alleys to beg for bread; a number of people died. Anger

festered, causing sheriffs to swear in new deputies. There would be no work

and no food.

Chapter Thirty: After three days of rain, the Wainwrights decide that they

have to keep on going. They fear that the creek will flood. Rose of Sharon

goes into labor, and the Joads cannot leave. Pa Joad and the rest of the

man at the camp build up the embankment to prevent flooding, but the water

breaks through. Pa, Al and Uncle John rush toward the car, but it cannot

start. They reach the boxcar and find that Rose of Sharon delivered a

stillborn baby. They realize that the car will eventually flood, and Mr.

Wainwright blames Pa Joad for asking them to stay and help, but Mrs.

Wainwright offers them help. She tells Ma Joad that it once was the case

that family came first. Now they have greater concerns. Uncle John places

the dead baby in an apple box and floats it down the flooded stream as Al

and build a platform on the top of the car. As the flood waters rise, the

family remains on the platform. The family finds a barn for refuge until

the rain stops. In the corner of the barn there are a starving man and a

boy. Ma and Rose of Sharon realize what she must do. Ma makes everybody

leave the barn, while Rose of Sharon gives the dying man her breast milk.

The Great Gatsby


Chapter One: The novel begins with a personal note by the narrator, Nick

Carraway. He relates that he has a tendency to reserve all judgments

against people and that he has been conditioned to be understanding toward

those who haven't had his advantages. Carraway came from a prominent family

from the Midwest, graduated from Yale and fought in the Great War. After

the war and a period of restlessness, he decided to go East to learn the

bond business. At the book's beginning, Carraway has just arrived in New

York, living in West Egg village. He was going to have dinner with Tom

Buchanan and his wife Daisy. Tom was an enormously wealthy man and a noted

football player at Yale, and Daisy was Carraway's second cousin. Jordan

mentions that, since Carraway lives in West Egg, he must know Gatsby.

Another woman, Jordan Baker, is also there. She tells Nick that Tom is

having an affair with some woman in New York. Tom discusses the book "The

Rise of the Colored Empires," which claims that the colored races will

submerge the white race eventually. Daisy talks to Carraway alone, and

claims that she has become terribly cynical and sophisticated. After

visiting with the Buchanans, Carraway goes home to West Egg, where he sees

Gatsby come from his mansion alone, looking at the sea. He stretches out

his arms toward the water, looking at a faraway green light.

Chapter Two: Fitzgerald begins this second chapter with the description of

a road running between West Egg and New York City. A large, decaying

billboard showing two eyes (advertising an optometrist's practice)

overlooks the desolate area. It is here, at a gas station, where Tom

Buchanan introduces Nick Carraway to Myrtle Wilson, the woman with whom he

is having an affair. Myrtle herself is married to George B. Wilson, an auto

mechanic. Tom has Myrtle meet them in the city, where Tom buys her a dog.

They go to visit Myrtle's sister and also visit her neighbors, Catherine

McKee and her husband, who is an artist. They gossip about Gatsby, and

Myrtle discusses her husband, claiming that she was crazy to marry him, and

how she met Tom. Later, Myrtle and Tom argue about whether or not she has a

right to say Daisy's name, and he breaks Myrtle's nose.

Chapter Three: Nick Carraway describes the customs of Gatsby's weekly

parties: the arrival of crates of oranges and lemons, a corps of caterers

and a large orchestra. On the first night that Carraway visits Gatsby's

house, he was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. When he

arrives, he sees Jordan Baker, who had recently lost a golf tournament.

They hear more gossip about Jay Gatsby he supposedly killed a man, or was

a German spy. Jordan and Nick look through Gatsby's library, where she

thinks that his books are not real. Later in the party, a man who

recognized Nick from the war talks to him Nick does not know that it is

Gatsby. Suddenly, after he identifies himself, Gatsby gets a phone call

from Chicago. Afterwards, Gatsby asks to speak to Jordan Baker alone. When

she finishes talking to Gatsby, she tells Nick that she heard the most

amazing thing and says that she wishes to see him. Guests leaving the party

have a car wreck in Gatsby's driveway. This was merely one event in a

crowded summer. Carraway, who spent most of his time working, began to like

New York. For a while he lost sight of Jordan Baker. He was not in love

with her, but had some curiosity toward her.

Chapter Four: At a Sunday morning party at Gatsby's, young women gossip

about Gatsby (he's a bootlegger who killed a man who found out that he was

a nephew to Von Hindenburg and second cousin to the devil). One morning

Gatsby comes to take Nick for lunch. He shows off his car: it had a rich

cream color and was filled with boxes from Gatsby's purchases. Gatsby asks

Nick what his opinion of him is, and Nick is evasive. Gatsby gives his

story: he is the son of wealthy people in the Middle West, brought up in

America and educated at Oxford. Carraway does not believe him, for he

chokes on his words. Gatsby continues: he lived in the capitals of Europe,

then enlisted in the war effort, where he was promoted to major and given a

number of declarations (from every Allied government, even Montenegro).

Gatsby admits that he usually finds himself among strangers because he

drifts from here to there, and that something happened to him that Jordan

Baker will tell Nick at lunch. They drive out past the valley of ashes and

Nick even glimpses Myrtle Wilson. When Gatsby is stopped for speeding, he

flashes a card to the policeman, who then does not give him a ticket.

At lunch, Gatsby introduces Carraway to Meyer Wolfsheim, a small, flat-

nosed Jew. He talks of the days at the Metropole when they shot Rosy

Rosenthal, and proudly mentions his cufflinks, which are made from human

molars. Wolfsheim is a gambler, the man who fixed the 1919 World Series.

Tom Buchanan is also there, and Nick introduces him to Gatsby, who appears

quite uncomfortable and then suddenly disappears. Jordan Baker tells the

story about Gatsby: Back in 1917, Daisy was eighteen and Jordan sixteen.

They were volunteering with the Red Cross, making bandages, and Daisy asked

Jordan to cover for her that day. She was meeting with Jay Gatsby, and

there were wild rumors that she was going to run off to New York with him.

On Daisy's wedding day to Tom, she nearly changes her mind, and goes into

hysterics. According to Jordan, Gatsby bought his house just to be across

the bay from Daisy. Nick becomes more drawn to Jordan, with her scornful

and cynical manner. Jordan tells Nick that he is supposed to arrange a

meeting between Gatsby and Daisy.

Chapter Five: Nick speaks with Gatsby about arranging a meeting with Daisy,

and tries to make it as convenient for Nick as possible. Gatsby even offers

him a job, a "confidential sort of thing," although he assures Nick that he

would not have to work with Wolfsheim. On the day that Gatsby and Daisy are

to meet, Gatsby has arranged everything to perfection. They start at Nick's

home, where the conversation between the three (Nick, Gatsby, Daisy) is

stilted and awkward. They are all embarrassed, and Nick tells Gatsby that

he's behaving like a little boy. They go over to Gatsby's house, where

Gatsby gives a tour. Nick asks Gatsby more questions about his business,

and he snaps back "that's my affair," before giving a half-hearted

explanation. Gatsby shows Daisy newspaper clippings about his exploits, and

has Ewing Klipspringer, a boarder, play the piano for them. One of the

notable mementos that Gatsby shows Daisy is a photograph of him with Dan

Cody, his closest friend, on a yacht. As they leave, Carraway realizes that

there must have been moments when Daisy disappointed Gatsby during the

afternoon, for his dreams and illusions had been built up to such grandiose


Chapter Six: On a vague hunch, a reporter comes to Gatsby's home asking him

if he had a statement to give out. The actual story of Gatsby is revealed:

he was born James Gatz in North Dakota. He had his named legally changed at

the age of seventeen. His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm

people, and the young man was consumed by fancies of what he might achieve.

His life changed when he rowed out to Dan Cody's yacht on Lake Superior.

Cody was then fifty, a product of the Nevada silver fields and of the Yukon

gold rush. Cody took Gatsby in and brought him to the West Indies and the

Barbary Coast as a personal assistant. When Cody died, Gatsby inherited

$25,000, but didn't get it because Cody's mistress, Ella Kaye, claimed all

of it. Gatsby told Nick this much later.

Nick had not seen Gatsby for several weeks when he went over to his house.

Tom Buchanan arrived there. He had been horseback riding with a woman and a

Mr. Sloane. Gatsby invites the group to supper, but the lady counters with

an offer of supper at her home. Mr. Sloane seems quite opposed to the idea,

so Nick turns down the offer, but Gatsby accepts. Tom complains about the

crazy people that Daisy meets, presumably meaning Gatsby. On the following

Saturday Tom accompanies Daisy to Gatsby's party. Tom is unpleasant and

rude during the evening. Tom suspects that Gatsby is a bootlegger, since he

is one of the new rich. After the Buchanans leave, Gatsby is disappointed,

thinking that Daisy surely did not enjoy herself. Nick realizes that Gatsby

wanted nothing less of Daisy than that she should tell Tom that she never

loved him. Nick tells Gatsby that he can't ask too much of Daisy, and that

"you can't repeat the past," to which Gatsby replies: "Of course you can!"

Chapter Seven: It was when curiosity about Gatsby was at its highest that

he failed to give a Saturday night party. Nick goes over to see if Gatsby

is sick, and learns that Gatsby had dismissed every servant in his house

and replaced them with a half dozen others who would not gossip, for Daisy

had been visiting in the afternoons. Daisy invites Gatsby, Nick and Jordan

to lunch. At the lunch, Tom is supposedly on the telephone with Myrtle

Wilson. Daisy shows of her daughter, who is dressed in white, to her

guests. Tom claims that he read that the sun is getting hotter and soon the

earth will fall into it or rather that the sun is getting colder. Daisy

makes an offhand remark that she loves Gatsby, which Tom overhears. When

Tom goes inside to get a drink, Nick remarks that Daisy has an indiscreet

voice. Gatsby says that her voice is "full of money." They all go to town:

Nick and Jordan in Tom's car, Daisy in Gatsby's. On the way, Tom tells Nick

that he has investigated Gatsby, who is certainly no Oxford man, as is

rumored. They stop to get gas at Wilson's garage. Mr. Wilson wants to buy

Tom's car, for he has financial troubles and he and Myrtle want to go west.

Wilson tells Tom that he "just got wised up" to something recently, the

reason why he and Myrtle want to get away.

While leaving the garage, they see Myrtle peering down at the car from her

window. Her expression was one of jealous terror toward Jordan Baker, whom

she took to be his wife.

Feeling that both his wife and mistress are slipping away from him, Tom

feels panicked and impatient. To escape from the summer heat, they go to a

suite at the Plaza Hotel. Tom begins to confront Gatsby, irritated at his

constant use of the term "old sport." Tom attempts to expose Gatsby as a

liar concerning Gatsby's experience at Oxford. Tom rambles on about the

decline of civilization, and how there may even be intermarriage between

races. Gatsby tells Tom that Daisy doesn't love him, and never loved him

the only reason why she married him was because Gatsby was poor and Daisy

was tired of waiting. Daisy hints that there has been trouble in her and

Tom's past, and then tells Tom that she never loved him. However, she does

concede that she did love Tom once. Gatsby tells Tom that he is not going

to take care of Daisy anymore and that Daisy is leaving him. Tom calls

Gatsby a "common swindler" and a bootlegger involved with Meyer Wolfsheim.

Nick realizes that today is his thirtieth birthday.

The young Greek, Michaelis, who ran the coffee joint next to Wilson's

garage was the principal witness at the inquest. While Wilson and his wife

were fighting, she ran out in the road and was hit by a light green car.

She was killed. Tom and Nick learn this when they drive past on their way

back from the city. Tom realizes that it was Gatsby who hit Myrtle. When

Nick returns home, he sees Gatsby, who explains what happened. Daisy was

driving the car when they hit Myrtle.

Chapter Eight: Nick cannot sleep that night. Toward dawn he hears a taxi go

up Gatsby's drive, and he immediately feels that he has something to warn

Gatsby about. Gatsby is still there, watching Daisy's mansion across the

bay. Nick warns him to get away for a week, since his car will inevitably

be traced, but he refuses to consider it. He cannot leave Daisy until he

knew what she would do. It was then when Gatsby told his entire history to

Nick. Gatsby still refuses to believe that Daisy ever loved Tom. After the

war Gatsby searched for Daisy, only to find that she had married Tom. Nick

leaves reluctantly, having to go to work that morning. Before he leaves,

Nick tells Gatsby that he's "worth the whole damn bunch put together." At

work, Nick gets a call from Jordan, and they have a tense conversation.

That day Michaelis goes to comfort Wilson, who is convinced that his wife

was murdered. He had found the dog collar that Tom had bought Myrtle hidden

the day before, which prompted their sudden decision to move west. Wilson

looks out at the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg and tells Michaelis that "God sees

everything." Wilson left, "acting crazy" (according to witnesses), and

found his way to Gatsby's house. Gatsby had gone out to the pool for one

last swim before draining it for the fall. Wilson shot him, and then shot


Chapter Nine: Most of the reports of the murder were grotesque and untrue.

Nick finds himself alone on Gatsby's side. Tom and Daisy suddenly left

town. Meyer Wolfsheim is difficult to contact, and offers assistance, but

cannot become too involved because of current entanglements. Nick tracks

down Gatsby's father, Henry C. Gatz, a solemn old man, helpless and

dismayed by news of the murder. Gatz says that his son would have "helped

build up the country." Klipspringer, the boarder, leaves suddenly and only

returns to get his tennis shoes. Nick goes to see Wolfsheim, who claims

that he made Gatsby. He tells Nick "let he learn to show our friendship for

a man when he is alive and not after he is dead," and politely refuses to

attend the funeral. Gatz shows Nick his son's daily schedule, in which he

has practically every minute of his day planned. He had a continual

interest in self-improvement. At the funeral, one of the few attendees is

the Owl-Eyed man from Gatsby's first party. Nick thinks about the

differences between the west and the east, and realizes that he, the

Buchanans, Gatsby and Jordan are all Westerners who came east, perhaps

possessing some deficiency which made them unadaptable to Eastern life.

After Gatsby's death the East was haunted and distorted. He meets with

Jordan Baker, who recalls their conversation about how bad drivers are

dangerous only when two of them meet. She tells Nick that the two of them

are both 'bad drivers.' Months later Nick saw Tom Buchanan, and Nick scorns

him, knowing that he pointed Wilson toward Gatsby. Nick realizes that all

of Tom's actions were, to him, justified. Nick leaves New York to return


Fitzgerald concludes the novel with a final note on Gatsby's beliefs.

It is this particular aspect of his character his optimistic belief in

achievement and the ability to attain one's dreams that defines Gatsby, in

contrast to the compromising cynicism of his peers. Yet the final symbol

contradicts and deflates the grand optimism that Gatsby held. Fitzgerald

ends the book with the sentence "So we beat on, boats against the current,

borne ceaselessly into the past," which contradicts Gatsby's fervent belief

that one can escape his origins and rewrite his past.

Long Day's Journey Into the Night

Act I, Part One The play begins in August, 1912, at the summer home of

the Tyrone family. The setting for all four acts is the family's living

room, which is adjacent to the kitchen and dining room. There is also a

staircase just off stage, which leads to the upper-level bedrooms. It is

8:30 am, and the family has just finished breakfast in the dining room.

While Jamie and Edmund,Tyrone enter and embrace, and Mary comments on being

pleased with her recent weight gain even though she is eating less food.

Tyrone and Mary make conversation, which leads to a brief argument

about Tyrone's tendency to spend money on real estate investing. They are

interrupted by the sound of Edmund, who is having a coughing fit in the

next room. Although Mary remarks that he merely has a bad cold, Tyrone's

body language indicates that he may know more about Edmund's sickness than

Mary. Nevertheless, Tyrone tells Mary that she must take care of herself

and focus on getting better rather than getting upset about Edmund. Mary

immediately becomes defensive, saying, "There's nothing to be upset about.

What makes you think I'm upset?" Tyrone drops the subject and tells Mary

that he is glad to have her "dear old self" back again.

Edmund and Jamie are heard laughing in the next room, and Tyrone

immediately grows bitter, assuming they are making jokes about him. Edmund

and Jamie enter, and we see that, even though he is just 23 years old,

Edmund is "plainly in bad health" and nervous. Upon entering, Jamie begins

to stare at his mother, thinking that she is looking much better. The

conversation turns spiteful, however, when the sons begin to make fun of

Tyrone's loud snoring, a subject about which he is sensitive, driving him

to anger. Edmund tells him to calm down, leading to an argument between the

two. Tyrone then turns on Jamie, attacking him for his lack of ambition and

laziness. To calm things down, Edmund tells a funny story about a tenant

named Shaughnessy on the Tyrone family land in Ireland, where the family's

origins lie. Tyrone is not amused by the anecdote, however, because he

could be the subject of a lawsuit related to ownership of the land. He

attacks Edmund again, calling his comments socialist. Edmund gets upsets

and exits in a fit of coughing. Jamie points out that Edmund is really

sick, a comment which Tyrone responds to with a "shut up" look, as though

trying to prevent Mary from finding out something. Mary tells them that,

despite what any doctor may say, she believes that Edmund has nothing more

than a bad cold. Mary has a deep distrust for doctors. Tyrone and Jamie

begin to stare at her again, making her self-conscious. Mary reflects on

her faded beauty, recognizing that she is in the stages of decline.

As Mary exits, Tyrone chastises Jamie for suggesting that Edmund really

may be ill in front of Mary, who is not supposed to worry during her

recovery from her addiction to morphine. Jamie and Tyrone both suspect that

Edmund has consumption (better known today as tuberculosis), and Jamie

thinks it unwise to allow Mary to keep fooling herself. Jamie and Tyrone

argue over Edmund's doctor, Doc Hardy, who charges very little for his

services. Jamie accuses Tyrone of getting the cheapest doctor, without

regard to quality, simply because he is a penny-pincher. Tyrone retorts

that Jamie always thinks the worst of everyone, and that Jamie does not

understand the value of a dollar because he has always been able to take

comfortable living for granted. Tyrone, by contrast, had to work his own

way up from the streets. Jamie only squanders loads of money on whores and

liquor in town. Jamie argues back that Tyrone squanders money on real

estate speculation, although Tyrone points out that most of his holdings

are mortgaged. Tyrone accuses Jamie of laziness and criticizes his failure

to succeed at anything. Jamie was expelled from several colleges in his

younger years, and he never shows any gratitude towards his father; Tyrone

thinks that he is a bad influence on Edmund. Jamie counters that he has

always tried to teach Edmund to lead a life different from that which Jamie


Act I, Part Two Tyrone and Jamie continue their discussion about

Edmund, who works for a local newspaper. Tyrone and Jamie have heard that

some editors dislike Edmund, but they both acknowledge that he has a strong

creative impulse that drives much of his plans. Tyrone and Jamie agree also

that they are glad to have Mary back. They resolve to help her in any way

possible, and they decide to keep the truth about Edmund's sickness from

her, although they realize that they will not be able to do so if Edmund

has to be committed to a sanatorium, a place where tuberculosis patients

are treated. Tyrone and Jamie discuss Mary's health, and Tyrone seems to be

fooling himself into thinking that Mary is healthier than she really is.

Jamie mentions that he heard her walking around the spare bedroom the night

before, which may be a sign that she is taking morphine again. Tyrone says

that it was simply his snoring that induced her to leave; he accuses Jamie

once again of always trying to find the worst in any given situation.

Between the lines, we begin to learn that Mary first became addicted to

morphine 23 years earlier, just after giving birth to Edmund. The birth was

particularly painful for her, and Tyrone hired a very cheap doctor to help

ease her pain. The economical but incompetent doctor prescribed morphine to

Mary, recognizing that it would solve her immediate pain but ignoring

potential future side effects, such as addiction. Thus we see that Tyrone's

stinginess (or prudence, as he would call it), has come up in the past, and

it will be referred to many more times during the course of the play.

Mary enters just as Tyrone and Jamie are about to begin a new

argument. Not wishing to upset her, they immediately cease and decide to go

outside to trim the hedges. Mary asks what they were arguing about, and

Jamie tells her that they were discussing Edmund's doctor, Doc Hardy. Mary

says she knows that they are lying to her. The two stare at her again

briefly before exiting, with Jamie telling her not to worry. Edmund then

enters in the midst of a coughing fit and tells Mary that he feels ill.

Mary begins to fuss over him, although Edmund tells her to worry about

herself and not him. Mary tells Edmund that she hates the house in which

they live because, "I've never felt it was my home." She puts up with it

only because she usually goes along with whatever Tyrone wants. She

criticizes Edmund and Jamie for "disgracing" themselves with loose women,

so that at present no respectable girls will be seen with them. Mary

announces her belief that Jamie and Edmund are always cruelly suspicious,

and she thinks that they spy on her. She asks Edmund to "stop suspecting

me," although she acknowledges that Edmund cannot trust her because she has

broken many promises in the past. She thinks that the past is hard to

forget because it is full of broken promises. The act ends with Edmund's

exit. Mary sits alone, twitching nervously.

Act II, Scene i The curtain rises again on the living room, where

Edmund sits reading. It is 12:45 pm on the same August day. Cathleen, the

maid, enters with whiskey and water for pre-lunch drinking. Edmund asks

Cathleen to call Tyrone and Jamie for lunch. Cathleen is chatty and flirty,

and tells Edmund that he is handsome. Jamie soon enters and pours himself a

drink, adding water to the bottle afterwards so that Tyrone will not know

they had a drink before he came in. Tyrone is still outside, talking to one

of the neighbors and putting on "an act" with the intent of showing off.

Jamie tells Edmund that Edmund may have a sickness more severe than a

simple case of malaria. He then chastises Edmund for leaving Mary alone all

morning. He tells him that Mary's promises mean nothing anymore. Jamie

reveals that he and Tyrone knew of Mary's morphine addiction as much as ten

years before they told Edmund.

Edmund begins a coughing fit as Mary enters, and she tells him not to

cough. When Jamie makes a snide comment about his father, Mary tells him to

respect Tyrone more. She tells him to stop always seeking out the

weaknesses in others. She expresses her fatalistic view of life, that most

events are somehow predetermined, that humans have little control over

their own lives. She then complains that Tyrone never hires any good

servants; she is displeased with Cathleen, and she blames her unhappiness

on Tyrone's refusal to hire a top-rate maid. At this point, Cathleen enters

and tells them that Tyrone is still outside talking. Edmund exits to fetch

him, and while he is gone, Jamie stares at Mary with a concerned look. Mary

asks why he is looking at her, and he tells her that she knows why.

Although he will not say it directly, Jamie knows that Mary is back on

morphine; he can tell by her glazed eyes. Edmund reenters and curses Jamie

when Mary, playing ignorant, tells him that Jamie has been insinuating

nasty things about her. Mary prevents an argument by telling Edmund to

blame no one. She again expresses her fatalist view: "[Jamie] can't help

what the past has made him. Any more than your father can. Or you. Or I."

Jamie shrugs off all accusations, and Edmund looks suspiciously at Mary.

Tyrone enters, and he argues briefly with his two sons about the

whiskey. They all have a large drink. Suddenly, Mary has an outburst about

Tyrone's failure to understand what a home is. Mary has a distinct vision

of a home, one that Tyrone has never been able to provide for her. She

tells him that he should have remained a bachelor, but then she drops the

subject so that they can begin lunch. However, she first criticizes Tyrone

for letting Edmund drink, saying that it will kill him. Suddenly feeling

guilty, she retracts her comments. Jamie and Edmund exit to the dining

room. Tyrone sits staring at Mary, then says that he has "been a God-damned

fool to believe in you." She becomes defensive and begins to deny Tyrone's

unspoken accusations, but he now knows that she is back on morphine. She

complains again of his drinking before the scene ends.

Act II, Scene ii The scene begins half an hour after the previous

scene. The family is returning from lunch in the dining room. Tyrone

appears angry and aloof, while Edmund appears "heartsick." Mary and Tyrone

argue briefly about the nature of the "home," although Mary seems somewhat

aloof while she speaks because she is on morphine. The phone rings, and

Tyrone answers it. He talks briefly with the caller and agrees on a meeting

at four o'clock. He returns and tells the family that the caller was Doc

Hardy, who wanted to see Edmund that afternoon. Edmund remarks that it

doesn't sound like good tidings. Mary immediately discredits everything Doc

Hardy has to say because she thinks he is a cheap quack whom Tyrone hired

only because he is inexpensive. After a brief argument, she exits upstairs.

After she is gone, Jamie remarks that she has gone to get more

morphine. Edmund and Tyrone explode at him, telling him not to think such

bad thoughts about people. Jamie counters that Edmund and Tyrone need to

face the truth; they are kidding themselves. Edmund tells Jamie that he is

too pessimistic. Tyrone argues that both boys have forgotten Catholicism,

the only belief that is not fraudulent. Jamie and Edmund both grow mad and

begin to argue with Tyrone. Tyrone admits that he does not practice

Catholicism strictly, but he claims that he prays each morning and each

evening. Edmund is a believer in Nietzsche, who wrote that "God is dead" in

Thus Spoke Zarathustra. He ends the argument, however, by resolving to

speak with Mary about the drugs, and he exits upstairs.

After Edmund leaves, Tyrone tells Jamie that Doc Hardy say that Edmund

has consumption, "no possible doubt." However, if Edmund goes to a

sanatorium immediately, he will be cured in six to 12 months. Jamie demands

that Tyrone send Edmund somewhere good, not somewhere cheap. Jamie says

that Tyrone thinks consumption is necessarily fatal, and therefore it is

not worth spending money on trying to cure Edmund since he is guaranteed to

die anyway. Jamie correctly argues that consumption can be cured if treated

properly. He decides to go with Tyrone and Edmund to the doctor that

afternoon then exits.

Mary reenters as Jamie leaves, and she tells Tyrone that Jamie would

be a good son if he had been raised in a "real" home as Mary envisions it.

She tells Tyrone not to give Jamie any money because he will use it only to

but liquor. Tyrone bitterly implies that Mary and her drug use is enough to

make any man want to drink. Mary dodges his accusation with denials, but

she asks Tyrone not to leave her alone that afternoon because she gets

lonely. Tyrone responds that Mary is the one who "leaves," referring to her

mental aloofness when she takes drugs. Tyrone suggests that Mary take a

ride in the new car he bought her, which to Tyrone's resentment does not

often get used (he sees it as another waste of money). Mary tells him that

he should not have bought her a second-hand car. In any case, Mary argues

that she has no one to visit in the car, since she has not had any friends

since she got married. She alludes briefly to a scandal involving Tyrone

and a mistress at the beginning of their marriage, and this event caused

many of her friends to abandon her. Tyrone tells Mary not to dig up the

past. Mary changes the subject and tells Tyrone that she needs to go to the


Delving into the past, Mary tells Tyrone the story of getting addicted

to morphine when Edmund was born. She implicitly blames Tyrone for her

addiction because he would only pay for a cheap doctor who knew of no

better way to cure her childbirth pain. Tyrone interrupts and tells her to

forget the past, but Mary replies, "Why? How can I? The past is the

present, isn't it? It's the future too. We all try to lie out of that but

life won't let us." Mary blames herself for breaking her vow never to have

another baby after Eugene, her second baby who died at two years old from

measles he caught from Jamie after Jamie went into the baby's room. Tyrone

tells Mary to let the dead baby rest in peace, but Mary only blames herself

more for not staying with Eugene (her mother was babysitting when Jamie

gave Eugene measles), and instead going on the road to keep Tyrone company

as he traveled the country with his plays. Tyrone had later insisted that

Mary have another baby to replace Eugene, and so Edmund was born. But Mary

claimed that from the first day she could tell that Edmund was weak and

fragile, as though God intended to punish her for what happened to Eugene.

Edmund reenters after Mary's speech, and he asks Tyrone for money,

which Tyrone grudgingly produces. Edmund is genuinely thankful, but then he

gets the idea that Tyrone may regret giving him money because Tyrone thinks

that Edmund will die and the money will be wasted. Tyrone is greatly hurt

by this accusation, and Edmund suddenly feels very guilty for what he said.

He and his father make amends briefly before Mary furiously tells Edmund

not to be so morbid and pessimistic. She begins to cry, and Tyrone exits to

get ready to go to the doctor with Edmund. Mary again criticizes Doc Hardy

and tells Edmund not to see him. Edmund replies that Mary needs to quit the

morphine, which puts Mary on the defensive, denying that she still uses and

then making excuses for herself. She admits that she lies to herself all

the time, and she says that she can "no longer call my soul my own." She

hopes for redemption one day through the Virgin. Jamie and Tyrone call

Edmund, and he exits. Mary is left alone, glad that they are gone but

feeling "so lonely."


The scene opens as usual on the living room at 6:30 pm, just before

dinner time. Mary and Cathleen are alone in the room; Cathleen, at Mary's

invitation, has been drinking. Although they discuss the fog, it is clear

that Cathleen is there only to give Mary a chance to talk to someone. They

discuss briefly Tyrone 's obsession with money, and then Mary refuses to

admit to Edmund's consumption. Mary delves into her past memories of her

life and family. As a pious Catholic schoolgirl, she says that she never

liked the theater; she did not feel "at home" with the theater crowd. Mary

then brings up the subject of morphine, which we learn Cathleen gets for

her from the local drugstore. Mary is becoming obsessed with her hands,

which used to be long and beautiful but have since deteriorated. She

mentions that she used to have two dreams: to become a nun and to become a

famous professional pianist. These dreams evaporated, however, when she met

Tyrone and fell in love. She met Tyrone after seeing him in a play. He was

friends with her father, who introduced the two. And she maintains that

Tyrone is a good man; in 36 years of marriage, he has had not one

extramarital scandal.

Cathleen then exits to see about dinner, and Mary slowly becomes

bitter as she recalls more memories. She thinks of her happiness before

meeting Tyrone. She thinks that she cannot pray anymore because the Virgin

will not listen to a dope fiend. She decides to go upstairs to get more

drugs, but before she can do so, Edmund and Tyrone return.

They immediately recognize upon seeing her that she has taken a large

dose of morphine. Mary tells them that she is surprised they returned,

since it is "more cheerful" uptown. The men are clearly drunk, and in fact

Jamie is still uptown seeing whores and drinking. Mary says that Jamie is a

"hopeless failure" and warns that he will drag down Edmund with him out of

jealousy. Mary talks more about the bad memories from the past, and Tyrone

laments that he even bothered to come home to his dope addict of a wife.

Tyrone decides to pay no attention to her. Mary meanwhile waxes about

Jamie, who she thinks was very smart until he started drinking. Mary blames

Jamie's drinking on Tyrone, calling the Irish stupid drunks, a comment

which Tyrone ignores.

Mary's tone suddenly changes as she reminisces about meeting Tyrone.

Tyrone then begins to cry as he thinks back on the memories, and he tells

his wife that he loves her. Mary responds, "I love you dear, in spite of

everything." But she regrets marrying him because he drinks so much. Mary

says she will not forget, but she will try to forgive. She mentions that

she was spoiled terribly by her father, and that spoiling made her a bad

wife. Tyrone takes a drink, but seeing the bottle has been watered down by

his sons trying to fool him into believing that they haven't been drinking,

he goes to get a new one. Mary again calls him stingy, but she excuses him

to Edmund, telling of how he was abandoned by his father and forced to work

at age 10.

Edmund then tells Mary that he has tuberculosis, and Mary immediately

begins discrediting Doc Hardy. She will not believe it, and she does not

want Edmund to go to a sanatorium. She thinks that Edmund is just blowing

things out of the water in an effort to get more attention. Edmund reminds

Mary that her own father died of tuberculosis, then comments that it is

difficult having a "dope fiend for a mother." He exits, laving Mary alone.

She says aloud that she needs more morphine, and she admits that she

secretly hopes to overdose and die, but she cannot intentionally do so

because the Virgin could never forgive suicide. Tyrone reenters with more

whiskey, noting that Jamie could not pick the lock to his liquor cabinet.

Mary suddenly bursts out that Edmund will die, but Tyrone assures her that

he will be cured in six months. Mary thinks that Edmund hated her because

she is a dope fiend. Tyrone comforts her, and Mary once again blames

herself for giving birth. Cathleen announces dinner. Mary says she is not

hungry and goes to bed. Tyrone knows that she is really going for more


Act IV, Part One

The time is midnight, and as the act begins a foghorn is heard in the

distance. Tyrone sits alone in the living room, drinking and playing

solitaire. He is drunk, and soon Edmund enters, also drunk. They argue

about keeping the lights on and the cost of the electricity. Tyrone acts

stubborn, and Edmund accuses him of believing whatever he wants, including

that Shakespeare and Wellington were Irish Catholics. Tyrone grows angry

and threatens to beat Edmund, then retracts. He gives up and turns on all

the lights. They note that Jamie is still out at the whorehouse. Edmund has

just returned from a long walk in the cold night air even though doing so

was a bad idea for his health. He states, "To hell with sense! We're all

crazy." Edmund tells Tyrone that he loves being in the fog because it lets

him live in another world. He pessimistically parodies Shakespeare, saying,

"We are such stuff as manure is made of, so let's drink up and forget it.

That's more my idea." He quotes then from the French author Baudelaire,

saying "be always drunken." He then quotes from Baudelaire about the

debauchery in the city in reference to Jamie. Tyrone criticizes all of

Edmund's literary tastes; he thinks Edmund should leave literature for God.

Tyrone thinks that only Shakespeare avoids being an evil, morbid


They hear Mary upstairs moving around, and they discuss her father,

who died of tuberculosis. Edmund notes that they only seem to discuss

unhappy topics together. They begin to play cards, and Tyrone tells Jamie

that even though Mary dreamed of being a nun and a pianist, she did not

have the willpower for the former or the skill for the latter; Mary deludes

herself. They hear her come downstairs but pretend not to notice. Edmund

then blames Tyrone for Mary's morphine addiction because Tyrone hired a

cheap quack. Edmund then says he hates Tyrone and blames him for Mary's

continued addiction because Tyrone never gave her a home. Tyrone defends

himself, but then Edmund says that he thinks that Tyrone believes he will

die from consumption. Edmund tells Tyrone that he, Tyrone, spends money

only on land, not on his sons. Edmund states that he will die before he

will go to a cheap sanatorium.

Tyrone brushes off his comments, saying that Edmund is drunk. But

Tyrone promises to send Edmund anywhere he wants to make him better,

"within reason." Tyrone tells Edmund that he is prudent with money because

he has always had to work for everything he has. Edmund and Jamie, by

contrast, have been able to take everything in life for granted. Tyrone

thinks that neither of his sons knows the value of money. Edmund, delving

into his deeper emotions, reminds Tyrone that he, Edmund, once tried to

commit suicide. Tyrone says that Edmund was merely drunk at the time, but

Edmund insists he was aware of his actions. Tyrone then begins to cry

lightly, telling of his destitute childhood and his terrible father. Tyrone

and Edmund, making amends, agree together on a sanatorium for Edmund, a

place that is more expensive but substantially better. Tyrone then tells

Edmund of his great theatrical mistake that prevented him from becoming

widely famous: he sold out to one particular role, and was forever more

typecast, making it difficult for him to expand his horizons and find new

work. Tyrone says that he only ever really wanted to be an artist, but his

hopes were dashed when he sold out to brief commercial success. Edmund

begins laughing "at life. It's so damned crazy," thinking of his father as

an artist.

Edmund then tells some of his memories, all of which are related to

the sea. He reflects on moments when he felt dissolved into or lost in the

ocean. He thinks that there is truth and meaning in being lost at sea, and

he thinks he should have been born a "seagull or a fish."

Act IV, Part Two

Hearing Jamie approaching the house, Tyrone steps into the next room.

Jamie enters, drunk and slurring his speech. He drinks more, but he will

not let Edmund drink at first, for health reasons. Jamie complains about

Tyrone briefly, then learns of his agreement with Edmund. Jamie says that

he spent the evening at the whorehouse, where he paid for a fat whore whom

no one else was willing to take. Edmund attacks Jamie with a punch when

Jamie begins praising himself and berating others. Jamie thanks him

suddenly for straightening him out; he has been messed up by problems

related to Mary's addiction. He and Edmund both begin to cry as they think

about their mother. Jamie is also worried about Edmund, who may die from

consumption. Jamie says that he loves Edmund, and that in a sense he made

him what he is at present.

But Jamie also admits that he has been a bad influence, and he says

that he did it on purpose. Jamie admits that he has always been jealous of

Edmund, and he wanted Edmund to also fail. He set a bad example

intentionally and tried to bring Edmund down. He then warns Edmund, saying,

"I'll do my damnedest to make you fail," but then he admits, "You're all

I've got left." Jamie then passes out.

Tyrone then reenters, having heard all that Jamie said. Tyrone says

that he has been issuing the exact same warning to Edmund for many years.

Tyrone calls Jamie a "waste." Jamie wakes up suddenly and argues with

Tyrone. Jamie and Tyrone both pass out briefly until they are awoken by the

sound of Mary playing the piano in the next room. The sound stops, and Mary

appears. She is very pale and very clearly on a substantial dose of

morphine. Jamie begins to cry, and Tyrone angrily cries that he will throw

Jamie out of his house. Mary is hallucinating, thinking that she is back in

her childhood. She thinks that she is in a convent. In her hands, she is

holding her wedding gown, which she fished out of the attic earlier. She

does not hear anyone, and she moves like a sleepwalker. Edmund suddenly

tells Mary that he has consumption, but she tells him not to touch her

because she wants to be a nun. The three men all pour themselves more

alcohol, but before they can drink, Mary begins to speak. She tells them of

her talk with Mother Elizabeth, who told her that she should experience

life out of the convent before choosing to become a nun. Mary says that she

followed that advice, went home to her parents, met and fell in love with

James Tyrone, "and was so happy for a time." The boys sit motionless and

Tyrone stirs in his chair as the play ends.

Moby Dick


Herman Melville (1819-1891) was a popular writer of sea narratives before

he wrote Moby-Dick (1851). What was to become his best known novel, The

Whale; or Moby-Dick, received good reviews when it appeared in England, but

the first American edition, coming out a month later in New York, received

mixed reviews. It was not a financial success and bafied American critics

until the 20th century, when it began to be considered a classic.

Melville was not recognized as a genius in his time; his most famous works

today{Moby-Dick, short stories like "Benito Cereno," and Billy Budd{were

not widely read or heralded in the 19th century.

Melville's America was a tumultuous place. In the North, rapid

industrialization was changing social patterns and giving rise to new

wealth. In the South, the cotton interest was trying to hold onto the

system of black slavery.

America was stretching westward, and encountering Native American tribes,

as travel by train, road, sea, and canal become easier than before.

Politicians appealed to the masses as the idea of "democracy" (versus

republicanism) took hold. Nationalism was high in the early nineteenth

century, but as national interconnectedness became more feasible, the deep

divisions in society began to grow. Soon, sectionalism, racism, economic

self-interest, and bitter political struggle would culminate in the Civil


Against this backdrop, Melville sailed off on his first whaling voyage in

1841. This experience became the material for his first book, Typee (1846),

a narrative that capitalized on exotic titillation about natives in the

Marquesas Islands. Becoming well known for his earthy, rowdy stories of

faraway places, he quickly followed his initial success with Omoo (1847)

and Mardi (1849).

But after Mardi, Melville's writing career started to level off. Though

Melville had once thought he could be a professional writer, Moby-Dicks

poor reviews meant that Melville would never be able to support himself by

writing alone. Melville was always firmly middle-class, though his personas

in books always seemed working-class. He had a distinguished pedigree: some

of his ancestors were Scottish and Dutch settlers of New York who played

leading roles in the American Revolution and commercial development. But

Melville often felt like the "savage" in the family, which may have

explained why he was not afraid to tackle such risky topics as slave revolt

(in "Benito Cereno") or the life-sucking potential of offce jobs ("Bartleby

the Scrivener").

Throughout his life, Melville was an avid reader. Much of his information

for Moby-Dick comes from printed sources. The number of refer

ences to difierent texts (intertextuality) in Moby-Dick testifies to the

importance of books in Melville's life. In particular, he admired Nathaniel

Hawthorne, whom he befriended in 1850 and to whom Melville dedicated the

novel. Melville admired Hawthorne's willingness to dive to deep

psychological depths and gothic grimness, traits for which he would also be


The works of Shakespeare and stories in the Bible (especially the Old

Testament) also in uenced Moby-Dick. Moreover, Melville's novel was

certainly not the first book on whaling. Whaling narratives were extremely

popular in the 19th century. In particular, Melville relied on the

encyclopedic Natural History of the Sperm Whale by Thomas Beale and the

narrative Etchings of a Whaling Cruise by J. Ross Browne. He also used

information from a volume by William Scoresby, but mostly to ridicule

Scoresby's pompous inaccuracy. One final note: many editions of Moby-Dick

have been printed. Check your edition before using this guide, because

"abridged" or "edited" versions may be difierent.


Ishmael { Ishmael is the narrator of the story, but not really the center

of it. He has no experience with whaling when he signs on and he is often

comically extravagant in his storytelling. Ishmael bears the same name as a

famous castaway in the Bible.

Ahab { The egomaniacal captain of the whalingship Pequod; his leg was taken

off by Moby Dick, the white whale. He searches frantically for the whale,

seeking revenge, and forces his crew to join him in the pursuit.

Starbuck { This native of Nantucket is the first mate of the Pequod.

Starbuck questions his commander's judgment, first in private and later in


Queequeg { Starbuck's stellar harpooner and Ishmael's best friend, Queequeg

was once a prince from a South Sea island who wanted to have a worldly

adventure. Queequeg is a composite character, with an identity that is part

African, Polynesian, Islamic, Christian, and Native American.

Stubb { This native of Cape Cod is the second mate of the Pequod and always

has a bit of mischievous good humor.

Moby Dick { The great white sperm whale; an infamous and dangerous threat

to seamen like Ahab and his crew.

Tashtego { Stubb's harpooneer, Tashtego is a Gay Head Indian from Martha's


Flask { This native of Tisbury on Martha's Vineyard is the third mate of

the Pequod. Short and stocky, he has a confrontational attitude and no

reverence for anything.

Daggoo { Flask's harpooneer, Daggoo is a very big, dark-skinned, imperial-

looking man from Africa.

Pip { Either from Connecticut or Alabama (there is a discrepancy), Pip used

to play the tambourine and take care of the ship. After being left to oat

on the sea alone for a short period of time, he becomes mystically wise{or

possibly loses his mind.

Fedallah { Most of the crew doesn't know until the first whale chase that

Ahab has brought on board this strange "oriental" old man who is a Parsee

(Persian fire-worshipper). Fedallah has a very striking appearance: around

his head is a turban made from his own hair, and he wears a black Chinese

jacket and pants. Like Queequeg, Fedallah's character is also a composite

of Middle Eastern and East Asian traits.

Peleg { This well-to-do retired whaleman of Nantucket is one of the largest

owners of the Pequod who, with Captain Bildad, takes care of hiring the

crew. When the two are negotiating wages for Ishmael and Queequeg, Peleg

plays the generous one. He is a Quaker.

Bildad { Also a well-to-do Quaker ex-whaleman from Nantucket who owns a

large share of the Pequod, Bildad is (or pretends to be) crustier than

Peleg in negotiations over wages.

Father Mapple { The preacher in the New Bedford Whaleman's Chapel. He

delivers a sermon on Jonah and the whale.

Captain Boomer { Boomer is the jovial captain of the English whalingship

Samuel Enderby; his arm was taken off by Moby Dick



These prefatory sections establish the groundwork for a new book about

whaling. Melville quotes from a variety of sources, revered, famous, and

obscure, that may directly address whaling or only mention a whale in

passing. The quotations include short passages from the Bible, Shakespeare,

John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost (1667), other well-known poems,

dictionaries, whaling and travel narratives, histories, and songs. The

Etymology section, looking at the derivations of "whale," is compiled by a

"late consumptive usher to a grammar school," and the Extracts section, a

selection of short quotations describing whales or whaling, by a "sub-sub-


Melville's humor comes through in these sections, both in the way he pokes

fun at the "poor devil of a Sub-Sub" and mentions even the tiniest

reference to a whale in these literary works.

Chapters 1-9


The story begins with one of the most famous opening lines in literary

history: "Call me Ishmael." Whatever Ishmael's "real" name, his adopted

name signals his identification with the Biblical outcast from the Book of


He explains that he went to sea because he was feeling a "damp, drizzly

November in [his] soul" and wanted some worldly adventure. In the mood for

old-fashioned whaling, Ishmael heads to New Bedford, the current center of

whaling, to catch a ferry to Nantucket, the previous center of whaling.

After wandering through the black streets of New Bedford, he finally

stumbles upon The Spouter-Inn, owned by Peter Coffn. First passing by a

large, somewhat inscrutable oil painting and a collection of "monstrous

clubs and spears," Ishmael walks into a room filled with "a wild set of

mariners." Because the inn is nearly full, Ishmael learns that he will have

to share a room with "a dark complexioned" harpooner named Queequeg. At

first, Ishmael decides that he would rather sleep on a bench than share a

bed with some strange, possibly dangerous man. But, discovering the bench

to be too uncomfortable, he decides to put up with the unknown harpooner,

who, Coffn assures him, is perfectly fine because "he pays reg'lar." Still,

Ishmael is worried since Coffn tells him that the harpooner has recently

arrived from the South Sea and peddles shrunken heads. When the Queequeg

finally returns, the frightened Ishmael watches Queequeg from the bed,

noting with a little horror the harpooner's tattoos, tomahawk/pipe, and

dark-colored idol.

When Queequeg finally discovers Ishmael in his bed, he ourishes the

tomahawk as Ishmael shouts for the owner. After Coffn explains the

situation, they settle in for the night and, when they wake up, Queequeg's

arm is affectionately thrown over Ishmael. Ishmael is sorry for his

prejudices against the "cannibal," finding Queequeg quite civilized, and

they become fast, close friends.

The chapters called The Street, The Chapel, The Pulpit, and The Sermon

establish the atmosphere in which Ishmael sets out on his whaling mission.

Because of its maritime industry, New Bedford is a cosmopolitan town, full

of difierent sorts of people (Lascars, Malays, Feegeeans, Tongatabooans,

Yankees, and green Vermonters). In this town is the Whaleman's Chapel,

where the walls are inscribed with memorials to sailors lost at sea and the

pulpit is like a ship's bow. The preacher in this chapel, Father Mapple, is

a favorite among whalemen because of his sincerity and sanctity. Once a

sailor and harpooner, Mapple now delivers sermons. His theme for this

Sunday: Jonah, the story of the prophet swallowed by "a great fish." (Today

we talk about "Jonah and the Whale.") Mapple preaches a story about man's

sin, willful disobedience of the command of God, and ight from Him. But,

says Mapple, the story also speaks to him personally as a command "To

preach the Truth in the face of Falsehood!" with a confidence born from

knowing God's will.

Chapters 10-21


In these chapters we learn more about the relationship between Ishmael and

Queequeg. Upon third consideration, Ishmael develops a great respect for

his new friend. Although still a "savage," Queequeg becomes, in Ishmael's

mind, "George Washington cannibalistically developed." Furthermore, after

having intimate chats with him in bed, Ishmael admires Queequeg's sincerity

and lack of Christian "hollow courtesies." Quick friends, they are

"married" after a social smoke. The chapter called Biographical gives more

information on Queequeg's past, detailing the harpooner's life as a son of

a High Chief or King of Kokovoko. Intent on seeing the world, he paddled

his way to a departing ship and persisted so stubbornly that they finally

allowed him to stow away as a whaleman. Queequeg can never go back because

his interaction with Christianity has made him unfit to ascend his

homeland's "pure and undefiled throne" and so, says Ishmael, "that barbed

iron [a harpoon] was in lieu of a sceptre now."

Together, they set off with a wheelbarrow full of their things for

Nantucket. On the packet over to Nantucket, a bumpkin mimics

Queequeg.Queequeg ips him around to punish him, and is subsequently scolded

by the captain. But when the bumpkin is swept overboard as the ship has

technical dificulties, Queequeg takes charge of the ropes to secure the

boat and then dives into the water to save the man overboard. This action

wins everyone's respect.

Melville then writes a bit about Nantucket's history, about the "red-

men"who first settled there, its ecology, its dependence on the sea for


When the two companions arrive, they have a pot of the best chowder at the

Try Pots. Charged by Yojo (Queequeg's wooden idol) to seek a ship for the

two of them, Ishmael comes upon the Pequod, a ship "with an old fashioned

claw-footed look about her" and "apparelled like any barbaric Ethiopian

emperor, his neck heavy with pendants of polished ivory." But the Pequod is

not just exotic to Ishmael; he also calls it a "cannibal of a craft"

because it is bejeweled with whale parts. On board, he makes a deal with

Peleg and Bildad, the Quaker owners of the ship, characterized as conniving

cheapskates and bitter taskmasters. Evaluating Ishmael for his lay (portion

of the ship's proffts, a whaleman's wage), Peleg finally gives him the

300th lay. (This, Bildad says, is "generous.") At this time, Ishmael also

learns that the ship's captain is Ahab, named after a wicked and punished

Biblical king. Although Ahab has seemed a little moody since he lost his

leg to the white whale Moby Dick, Bildad and Peleg believe in his

competence. Ishmael does not meet the captain in person until much later.

Returning to the inn, Ishmael allows Queequeg a day for his "Ramadan"

ceremonies and then becomes worried when his friend does not answer the

door in the evening. When the panicking Ishmael finally gets the door open,

he finds Queequeg deep in meditation. The next day, they return to the

Pequod to sign Queequeg up. Though the owners object at first to Queequeg's

paganism, the Kokovokan impresses them with his skill by hitting a spot of

tar on a mast with a harpoon. They give him the 90th lay, "more than ever

was given a harpooneer yet out of Nantucket." Although Bildad still tries

to convert Queequeg, Peleg tells him to give up. "Pious harpooneers never

make good voyagers { it takes the shark out of 'em; no harpooneer is worth

a straw who aint pretty sharkish."

Just after signing the papers, the two run into a man named Elijah (a

prophet, or just some frightening stranger) who hints to them about the

peril of signing aboard Ahab's ship. They disregard him. For several days,

there is preparation for the dangerous voyage. When they are near the ship,

Ishmael thinks that he sees some "shadows" boarding the ship, but then

dismisses the idea. Elijah warns them again just before they board.

Chapters 22-31


At Christmas, the ship finally heaves off from the port and Ishmael gets

his first taste of the rigors of whaling life. As the boat sails away from

civilization, Bulkington, a noble sailor that Ishmael saw at the Coffn inn,

appears on the Pequod's decks, and makes Ishmael wax sentimental about the

heroism in sailing into the deeps.

In the chapter called The Advocate, Ishmael defends the whaling profession

in a series of arguments and responses. Whaling is a heroic business, he

says, that is economically crucial (for the oil) and has resulted in

geographical discovery. He finds the utmost dignity in whaling: a subject

of good genealogy, worthy enough for Biblical writers and also educational.

These, he says, are facts. He can't praise sperm whaling enough and even

suggests that sperm oil has been used to anoint kings because it is the

best, purest, and sweetest.

In the chapter called Knights and Squires, we meet the mates and their

lieutenants. The first mate, Starbuck, is a pragmatic, reliable

Nantucketer. Speaking about Starbuck leads Ishmael to carry on about the

working man and democratic equality. The pipe-smoking second mate Stubb, a

native of Cape Cod, is always cool under pressure and has "impious good


Third mate Flask, a native of Tisbury on Martha's Vineyard, is a short,

stocky fellow with a confrontational attitude and no reverence for the

dignity of the whale. He is nicknamed "King-Post" because he resembles the

short, square timber known by that name in Arctic whalers. Already

introduced, Queequeg is Starbuck's harpooner. Stubb's "squire" is Tashtego,

"an unmixed Indian from Gay Head" (Martha's Vineyard). Flask's harpooner is

Daggoo, "a gigantic, coal-black negro-savage" from Africa with an imperial


The rest of the crew is also mostly international. But, says Ishmael, all

these "Isolatoes" are "federated along one keel" and unified by

accompanying Ahab. Ishmael also makes small mention of Pip, a poor Alabama

boy who beats a tambourine on ship.

Ahab finally appears on deck and Ishmael observes closely. He sees Ahab as

a very strong, willful figure, though his encounter with the whale has

scarred him. Certainly, Ahab seems a bit psychologically troubled. Ahab's

relationship to others on the boat is one of total dictatorship. When Stubb

complains about Ahab's pacing, Ahab calls him a dog and advances on him.

Stubb retreats. The next morning, Stubb wakes up and explains to Flask that

he had a dream that Ahab kicked him with his ivory leg. (The title of this

chapter, Queen Mab, refers to Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet, in

which the character Mercutio talks about weird dreams.)

Chapters 32-40

"Cetology," as Ishmael explains, is "the science of whales." In the

Cetology chapter and subsequent cetology- like chapters in the book,

Ishmael tries to dissect whales scientifically. After including some

quotations from previous writers on the whale, Ishmael says he here

attempts a "draught" (draft) of a whale classification system that others

can revise. He divides the whales into books and chapters (like today's

Linnaean system that includes genus and species). His first subject is the

sperm whale. At the end of the chapter, he pronounces it a "drought of a

draught." The Specksynder is another cetology-like chapter in that it tries

to dissect the whaling industry. Beginning with trivia about the changing

role of the specksynder (literally, "fat-cutter"), who used to be chief

harpooneer and captain, Ishmael moves on to a discussion of leadership

styles, particularly that of royal or imperial leaders.

The chapter called The Cabin-Table returns to the plot, showing the ship's

offcers at dinner. This is a rigid afiair over which Ahab presides. After

the offcers finish, the table is re-laid for the harpooneers. Then Ishmael

discusses his first post on the mast-head watching for whales. He writes a

history of mast-heads and their present role on a whaling ship. Ishmael,

who can rarely stick only to one subject or one level of thinking,

discusses metaphorical meanings of what he sees. Then, in the chapter

called The Quarter-Deck, he returns to narrative plot, dramatizing Ahab's

first offcial appearance before the men. Ahab's call and response tests the

crew, checking whether they know what to do, and unites them under his


Presenting a Spanish gold doubloon, he proclaims. "Whosoever of ye raises

me a white-headed whale with a wrinkled brow and a crooked jaw; whosoever

of ye raises me that while-headed whale, with three holes punctured in his

starboard uke - look ye, whosoever of ye raises that same white whale, he

shall have this gold ounce, my boys!" The men cheer. Ahab then confesses,

in response to Starbuck's query, that it was indeed this white whale Moby

Dick who took off his leg, and announces his quest to hunt him down. The

men shout together that they will hunt with Ahab, though Starbuck protests.

Ahab then begins a ritual that binds the crew together. He fills a cup with

alcohol and everyone on the ship drinks from that agon. Telling the

harpooners to cross their lances before him, Ahab grasps the weapons and

anoints Queequeg, Tashtego, and Daggoo "my three pagan kinsmen there -yon

three most honorable gentlemen and noble men." He then makes them take the

iron off of the harpoons to use as drinking goblets. They all drink

together while Ahab proclaims, "God hunt us all, if we do not hunt Moby

Dick to his death!"

Another chapter beginning with a stage direction, Sunset is a melancholy

monologue by Ahab. He says that everyone thinks he is mad and he agrees

somewhat. He self- consciously calls himself "demoniac" and "madness

maddened." Even though he seems to be the one orchestrating events, he does

not feel in control: "The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails,

whereon my soul is grooved to run." Dusk is Starbuck's monologue. Though he

feels that it will all come out badly, he feels inextricably bound to Ahab.

When he hears the revelry coming from the crew's forecastle, he laments the

whole, doomed voyage. First Night-Watch is Stubb's monologue, giving

another perspective on the voyage. Midnight, Forecastle is devoted to the

jolly men who take turns showing off and singing together. They get into a

fight when the Spanish Sailor makes fun of Daggoo. The onset of a storm,

however, stops their fighting and makes them tend to the ship.

Chapters 41-47


Ishmael is meditative again, starting with a discussion of the white

whale's history. Rumors about Moby Dick are often out of control, he says,

because whale fishermen "are by all odds the most directly brought into

contact with whatever is appallingly astonishing in the sea; face to face

they not only eye its greatest marvels, but, hand to jaw, give battle to

them." It is easy to attach metaphorical meaning or make up legend about

dangerously intense, life-threatening experiences. Ishmael is skeptical,

though, about assertions that Moby Dick is immortal. He admits that there

is a singular whale called Moby Dick who is distinguished by his "peculiar

snow-white wrinkled forehead, and a high, pyramidical white hump" and that

this whale is known to have destroyed boats in a way that seems

"intelligent." No wonder Ahab hates the white whale, says Ishmael, since it

does seem that Moby Dick did it out of spite.

Intertwined with Moby Dick's history is Ahab's personal history. When the

white whale took off Ahab's leg, the whale became to Ahab "the monomaniac

incarnation of all those malicious agencies which some deep men feel eating

in them, till they are left living on with half a heart and half a lung."

Ahab's reaction was to magnify the symbolism of the whale: the whale didn't

just take off his leg, but represents everything that he hates and

everything that torments him. Ahab went crazy on the trip home, says

Ishmael, though he tried to appear sane.

The Whiteness of the Whale turns from what Moby Dick means to Ahab, to what

it means to Ishmael. Above all, he says, it is the whiteness of the whale

that appalls him. (Note Ishmael's pun{the root of the word "appall"

literally means to turn white.) Ishmael begins his cross-cultural

discussion of "whiteness" by saying how much it has been idealized as

virtue or nobility.

To him, however, the color white only multiplies terror when it is attached

with any object "terrible" in itself.

After a short dramatic scene (Hark!) where the sailors say to each other

that they think there may be something or someone in the after-hold,

Ishmael returns to an examination of Ahab in The Chart. Because Ahab

believes that his skill with charts will help him locate Moby Dick, Ishmael

discusses how one might scientifically track a whale. In The Afidavit,

Ishmael explains in organized form "the natural verity of the main points

of this afiair." He realizes that this story seems preposterous in many

ways and wants to convince the reader that his story is real by listing the

"true" bases for this story in quasi-outline form (first, personal

experiences, then tales of whale fishermen or collective memory, and

finally books). He then looks at why people may not believe these stories.

Perhaps readers haven't heard about the perils or vivid adventures in the

whaling industry, he says. Or maybe they do not understand the immensity of

the whale. He asks that the audience use "human reasoning" when judging his


The chapter called Surmises returns the focus to Ahab, considering how the

captain will accomplish his revenge. Because Ahab must use men as his

tools, Ahab has to be very careful. How can he motivate them? Ahab can

appeal to their hearts, but also he knows that cash will keep them going.

Ahab further knows that he has to watch that he does not leave himself open

to charges of "usurpation." That is, he has to follow standard operating

procedure, lest he give his offcers reason to overrule him.

The Mat-Maker returns to the plot. Ishmael describes slow, dreamy

atmosphere on the ship when they are not after a whale. He and Queequeg are

making a sword-mat, and, in a famous passage, likens their weaving to work

on "the Loom of Time." (The threads of the warp are fixed like necessity.

Man has limited free will: he can interweave his own woof crossthreads into

this fixed structure. When Queequeg's sword hits the loom and alters the

overall pattern, Ishmael calls this chance.) What jolts him out of his

reverie is Tashtego's call for a whale. Suddenly, everyone is busied in

preparations for the whale hunt. Just as they are about to push off in

boats, "five dusky phantoms" emerge around Ahab.

Chapters 48-54


These chapters return us to the action of Moby-Dick. We meet Fedallah for

the first time, described as a dark, sinister figure with a Chinese jacket

and turban made from coiling his own hair around his head. We also meet for

the first time the "tiger-yellow ... natives of the Manillas" (Ahab's boat

crew) who were hiding in the hold of the Pequod. The other crews are

staring at the newly discovered shipmates, but Flask tells them to continue

doing their jobs{that is, to concentrate on hunting the whale.

The Pequod's first lowering after the whale is not very successful.

Queequeg manages to get a dart in the whale but the animal overturns the


The men are nearly crushed by the ship as it passes looking for them,

because a squall has put a mist over everything.

The chapter called The Hyena functions as a mooring of sorts{a self-

conscious look back that puts everything in perspective. In this chapter,

Ishmael talks about laughing at things, what a hyena is known for. Finding

out that such dangerous conditions are typical, Ishmael asks Queequeg to

help him make his will.

Ishmael then comments on Ahab's personal crew. Ahab's decision to have his

own boat and crew, says Ishmael, is not a typical practice in the whaling

industry. But however strange, "in a whaler, wonders soon wane" because

there are so many unconventional sights in a whaler: the sheer variety of

people, the strange ports of call, and the distance and disconnectedness of

the ships themselves from land-based, conventional society. But even though

whalemen are not easily awe-struck, Ishmael does say "that hair- turbaned

Fedallah remained a mufied mystery to the last." He is "such a creature as

civilized, domestic people in the temperate zone only see in their dreams,

and that but dimly."

Ishmael then focuses on Fedallah. On the masthead one night, the Parsee

thinks he sees a whale spouting. The whole ship then tries to follow it,

but the whale is not seen again until some days later. Ishmael calls it a

"spirit-spout" because it seems to be a phantom leading them on. Some think

it might be Moby Dick leading the ship on toward its destruction. The ship

sails around the Cape of Good Hope (Africa), a particularly treacherous


Through it all, Ahab commands the deck robustly and even when he is down in

the cabin, he keeps his eye on the cabin-compass that tells him where the

ship is going.

They soon see a ship called "The Goney," or Albatross, a vessel with a

"spectral appearance" that is a long way from home. Of course, Ahab asks

them as they pass by, "Have ye seen the White Whale?" While the other

captain is trying to respond, a gust of wind blows the trumpet from his


Their wakes cross as both ships continue on. The Pequod continues its way

around the world, Ishmael worries that this is dangerous{they might just be

going on in mazes or will all be "[over]whelmed." Ishmael then explains

that these two ships did not have a "gam." A gam, according to Ishmael, is

"a social meeting of two (or more) Whale-ships, generally on a cruising-

ground; when, after exchanging hails, they exchange visits by boats' crews:

the two captains remaining, for the time, on board of one ship, and the two

chief mates on the other."

The Town-Ho's Story is a story within the larger story of Moby-Dick. During

a gam with the ship Town-Ho (which they encounter after the Goney), a white

sailor on the Town-Ho tells this story to Tashtego who shares it with all

the men in the forecastle. Ishmael announces at the beginning of the

chapter that he is telling us what he once told it to some friends in Lima.

The basic story concerns Radney, a mate from Martha's Vineyard, and

Steelkilt, a sailor from Bufialo who have a con ict on board the Town-Ho, a

sperm whaler from Nantucket. Steelkit rebels against Radney's authority,

assaults the mate (after the mate attacks him), and starts a mutiny. The

mutineers are punished and released, but Steelkilt wants revenge. The ship

runs into Moby Dick and, in the process of trying to harpoon him, Radney

falls out of the boat. Moby Dick snatches him in his jaws. Ishmael's

listeners don't necessarily believe him, but he swears on a copy of the

Four Gospels that he is telling the truth.

Chapters 55-65


Here, Melville describes poor representations of whales. To a whaleman who

has actually seen whales, many historical, mythological, and scientific

sources seem inaccurate. As a result, says Ishmael, "you must needs

conclude that the great Leviathan is the one creature in the world which

must remain unpainted to the last." The only solution Ishmael sees is to go

whaling yourself. The next chapter tries to find some acceptable

depictions. To Ishmael's taste the only things that are anywhere close are

two large French engravings from a Garneray painting that show the Sperm

and Right Whales in action. The following chapter tries to expand the

discussion of representations of whales to include whales in various media.

Ishmael then talks about how whalemen have been known to make scrimshaw.

Whalemen who deal with whales so much start seeing whales everywhere, which

is why he mentions stars.

The Brit chapter brings back the encyclopedic cetology chapter type. Brit

is a minute yellow substance upon which the Right Whale largely feeds.

Ishmael uses the chapter as a platform on which to talk about contradictory

views of the sea (frightening "universal cannibalism") and the earth

("green, gentle, and most docile" land). Past the field of Brit in the

water, Daggoo thinks that he sights Moby Dick. It is a false alarm,

however, and it is only a giant squid.

In preparation for a later scene, says Ishmael, he will explain the

whaleline. Made of hemp, this rope is connected to the harpoon at one end

and free at the other so that it can be tied to other boats' lines. Because

it whizzes out when a whale is darted, it is dangerous for the men in the


We then return to more action, where Stubb kills a black sperm whale.

Ishmael vigorously describes the gore to us. In The Dart, Ishmael

backtracks, describing what a harpooneer does and how he uses a dart.

Freely giving his opinion on whaling technique, Ishmael says that mates

should throw both the dart and the lance because the harpooneer should be

fresh, not tired from rowing. Then, to explain the crotch mentioned in the

previous chapter, Ishmael backtracks again to describe the notched stick

that furnishes a rest for the wooden part of the harpoon.

Ishmael then returns to the plot: Stubb wants to eat the freshly killed

whale, although most whalemen do not. (Usually the only creatures that eat

whale meat are sharks.) He calls on the black cook Fleece to make his

supper and make the sharks stop eating the whale esh. In a sermon to the

sharks, the cook tells them that they ought to be more civilized. Stubb and

the cook get into a folksy religious discussion. He then likens Stubb to a

shark. Ishmael then feels that he must describe what whale is like as a

dish. Doing a historical survey of whale-as-dish, Ishmael remarks that no

one except for Stubb and the "Esquimaux" accept it now. Deterrents include

the exceedingly rich quality of the meat and its prodigious quantities.

Furthermore, it seems wrong because hunting the whale makes the meat a

"noble dish" and one has to eat the meat by the whale's own light. But

perhaps this blasphemy isn't so rare, says Ishmael, since the readers

probably eat beef with a knife made from the bone of oxen or pick their

teeth after eating goose with a goose feather.

Chapters 66-73


These chapters get into the minutiae of whaling technique. The Shark

Massacre describes how sharks often swarm around dead whale carcasses,

forcing whalemen to poke them with spades or kill them. Even when sharks

are dead, they are often still dangerous: once, when Queequeg brought one

on deck for its skin, it nearly took his hand off. There's no sacred

Sabbath in whaling, since the gory business of cutting in occurs whenever

there is a kill. Cutting in involves inserting a hook in the whale's

blubber and peeling the blubber off as one might peel off an orange rind in

one strip. Discussing the whale's blubber, Ishmael realizes that it is

dificult to determine exactly what the whale's skin is. There is something

thin and isinglass-like, but that's only the skin of the skin. If we decide

that the blubber of the whale (the long pieces of which are called "blanket-

pieces") is the skin, we are still missing something since blubber only

accounts for 3/4 of the weight of the blanket-pieces. After cutting in, the

whale is then released for its "funeral" in which the "mourners" are

vultures and sharks. The frightful white carcass oats away and a "vengeful

ghost" hovers over it, deterring other ships from going near it.

Ishmael backtracks in The Sphynx, saying that before whalers let a carcass

go, they behead it in a "scientific anatomical feat." Ahab talks to this

head, asking it to tell him of the horrors that it has seen. But Ahab knows

that it doesn't speak and laments its inability to speak: too many horrors

are beyond utterance.

The chapter about the Jeroboam (a ship carrying some epidemic) also

backtracks, referring back to a story Stubb heard during the gam with the

Town-Ho. A man, who had been a prophet among the Shakers in New York,

proclaimed himself the archangel Gabriel on the ship and mesmerized the

crew. Captain Mayhew wanted to get rid of him at the next port, but the

crew threatened desertion. And the sailors aboard the Pequod now see this

very Gabriel in front of them. When Captain Mayhew is telling Ahab a story

about the White Whale, Gabriel keeps interrupting. According to Mayhew, the

Jeroboam first heard about the existence of Moby Dick when they were

speaking to another ship. Gabriel then warned against killing it, calling

it the Shaker God incarnated. They ran into it about a year afterwards and

the ship's leaders decided to hunt it. As the mate was standing in the ship

to throw his lance, the whale ipped the mate into the air and tossed him

into the sea. Nothing was harmed except for the mate, who drowned. Gabriel,

the entire time, had been on the mast-head and said, basically, "I told you

so." When Ahab confirms that he intends to hunt the white whale still,

Gabriel points to him, saying, "Think, think of the blasphemer - dead, and

down there! - beware of the blasphemer's end!" Ahab then realizes that the

Pequod is carrying a letter for the dead mate and tries to hand it over to

the captain on the end of a cutting-spade pole. Somehow, Gabriel gets a

hold of it, impales it on the boat-knife, and sends it back to Ahab's feet

as the Jeroboam pulls away.

Ishmael backtracks again in The Monkey-Rope to explain how Queequeg inserts

the blubber hook. Ishmael, as Queequeg's bowsman, ties the monkey-rope

around his waist as Queequeg is on the whale's oating body trying to attach

the hook. (In a footnote, we learn that only on the Pequod were the monkey

and this holder actually tied together, an improvement introduced by

Stubb.) While Ishmael holds him, Tashtego and Daggoo are also ourishing

their whale-spades to keep the sharks away. When Dough-Boy, the steward,

offers Queequeg some tepid ginger and water, the mates frown at the in

uence of pesky Temperance activists and make the steward bring him alcohol.

Meanwhile, as the Pequod oats along, they spot a right whale. After killing

him, Stubb asks Flask what Ahab might want with this "lump of foul lard."

Flask responds that Fedallah says that a whaler with a Sperm Whale's head

on her starboard side and a Right Whale's head on her larboard will never

afterwards capsize. They then get into a discussion in which both of them

confess that they do not like Fedallah and think of him as "the devil in

disguise." In this instance and always, Fedallah watches and stands in

Ahab's shadow. Ishmael notes that the Parsee's shadow seemed to blend with

and lengthen Ahab's.

Chapters 74-81


The paired chapters (74 and 75) do an anatomic comparison of the sperm

whale's head and the right whale's head. In short, the sperm whale has a

great well of sperm, ivory teeth, long lower jaw, and one external spout-

hole; the right whale has bones shaped like Venetian blinds in his mouth,

huge lower lip, a tongue, and one external spout- hole. Ishmael calls the

right whale stoic and the sperm "platonian." The Battering-Ram discusses

the blunt, large, wall-like part of the head that seems to be just a "wad."

In actuality, inside the thin, sturdy casing is a "mass of tremendous

life." He goes on to explain, in The Great Heidelberg Tun (a wine cask in

Heidelberg with a capacity of 49,000 gallons), that there are two

subdivisions of the upper part of a whale's head: the Case and the junk.

The Case is the Great Heidelberg Tun since it contains the highly-prized

spermaceti. Ishmael then dramatizes the tapping of the case by Tashtego. It

goes by bucket from the "cistern" (well) once Tashtego finds the spot. In

this scene, Tashtego accidentally falls in to the case. In panic, Daggoo

fouls the lines and the head falls into the ocean. Queequeg dives in and

manages to save Tashtego.

In The Prairie, Ishmael discusses the nineteenth-century arts of

physiognomy (the art of judging human character from facial features)and

phrenology (the study of the shape of the skull, based on the belief that

it reveals character and mental capacity). By such analyses, the sperm

whale's large, clear brow gives him the dignity of god. The whale's

"pyramidical silence" demonstrates the sperm whale's genius. But later

Ishmael abandons this line of analysis, saying that he isn't a

professional. Besides, the whale wears a "false brow" because it really

doesn't have much in its skull besides the spermy stufi. (The brain is

about 10 inches big.) Ishmael then says that he would rather feel a man's

spine to know him than his skull, throwing out phrenology. Judging by

spines (which, like brains, are a network of nerves) would discount the

smallness of the whale's brain and admire the wonderful comparative

magnitude of his spinal cord. The hump becomes a sign of the whale's

indomitable spirit.

The Jungfrau (meaning Virgin in German) is out of oil and meets the Pequod

to beg for some. Ahab, of course, asks about the White Whale, but the

Jungfrau has no information. Almost immediately after the captain of the

Jungfrau steps off the Pequod's deck, whales are sighted and he goes after

them desperately. The Pequod also gives chase and succeeds in harpooning

the whale before the Germans. But, after bringing the carcass alongside the

ship, they discover that the whale is sinking and dragging the ship along

with it. Ishmael then discusses the frequency of sinking whales.

The Jungfrau starts chasing a fin-back, a whale that resembles a sperm

whale to the unskilled observer.

Chapter 82-92


Ishmael strays from the main action of the plot again, diving into the

heroic history of whaling. First, he draws from Greek mythology, the Judeo-

Christian Bible, and Hindu mythology. He then discusses the Jonah story in

particular (a story that has been shadowing this entire novel from the

start) through the eyes of an old Sag-Harbor whaleman who is crusty and

questions the Jonah story based on personal experience.

Ishmael then discusses pitchpoling by describing Stubb going through the

motions (throwing a long lance from a jerking boat to secure a running

whale). He then goes into a discursive explanation of how whales spout with

some attempt at scientific precision. But he cannot define exactly what the

spout is, so he has to put forward a hypothesis: the spout is nothing but

mist, like the "semi- visible steam" that proceeds from the head of

ponderous beings such as Plato, Pyrrho, the Devil, Jupiter, Dante, and

himself! In the next chapter, he celebrates a whale's most famous part: his

tail. He likes its potential power and lists its difierent uses.

When the Pequod sails through the straits of Sunda (near Indonesia) without

pulling into any port, Ishmael takes the opportunity to discuss how

isolated and self- contained a whaleship is. While in the straits, they run

into a great herd of sperm whales swimming in a circle (the "Grand

Armada"){ but as they are chasing the whales, they are being chased by

Malay pirates. They try to "drugg" the whales so that they can kill them on

their own time.

(There are too many to try to kill at once.) They escape the pirates and go

in boats after the whales, somehow ending up inside their circle, a placid


But one whale, who had been pricked and was oundering in pain, panics the

whole herd. The boats in the middle are in danger but manage to get out of

the center of the chaos. They try to "waif" the whales{that is, mark them

as the Pequod's to be taken later. Ishmael then goes back to explaining

whaling terms, staring with "schools" of whales. The schoolmaster is the

head of the school, or the lord. The all-male schools are like a "mob of

young collegians." Backtracking to a reference in Chapter 87 about waifs,

Ishmael explains how the waif works as a symbol in the whale fishery. He

goes on to talk about historical whaling codes and the present one that a

Fast- Fish belongs to the party fast to it and a Loose-Fish is fair came

for anybody who can soonest catch it. A fish is fast when it is physically

connected (by rope, etc.) to the party after it or it bears a waif, says

Ishmael. Lawyer- like, Ishmael cites precedents and stories, to show how

dificult it is to maintain rules. In Heads or Tails, he mentions the

strange problem with these rules in England because the King and Queen

claim the whale. Some whalemen in Dover (or some port near there, says

Ishmael) lost their whale to the Duke because he claimed the power

delegated him from the sovereign.

Returning to the narrative, Ishmael says they come up on a French ship

Bouton de Rose (Rose-Button or Rose- Bud). This ship has two whales

alongside: one "blasted whale" (one that died unmolested on the sea) that

is going to have nothing useful in it and one whale that died from


Stubb asks a sailor about the White Whale? Never seen him, is the answer.

Crafty Stubb then asks why the man is trying to get oil out of these whales

when clearly there is none in either whale. The sailor on the Rose-Bud says

that his captain, on his first trip, will not believe the sailor's own

statements that the whales are worthless. Stubb goes aboard to tell the

captain that the whales are worthless, although he knows that the second

whale might have ambergris, an even more precious commodity than

spermaceti. Stubb and the sailor make up a little plan in which Stubb says

ridiculous things in English and the sailor says, in French, what he

himself wants to say. The captain dumps the whales. As soon as the Rose-Bud

leaves, Stubb mines and finds the sweet- smelling ambergris.

Ishmael, in the next chapter, explains what ambergris is: though it looks

like mottled cheese and comes from the bowel of whales, ambergris is

actually used for perfumes. He uses dry legal language to describe

ambergris and discuss its history even though he acknowledges that poets

have praised it.

Ishmael then looks at where the idea that whales smell bad comes from. Some

whaling vessels might have skipped cleaning themselves a long time ago, but

the current bunch of South Sea Whalers always scrub themselves clean. The

oil of the whale works as a natural soap.

Chapters 93-101


These are among the most important chapters in Moby- Dick. In The Castaway,

Pip, who usually watches the ship when the boats go out, becomes a

replacement in Stubb's boat. Having performed passably the first time out,

Pip goes out a second time and this time he jumps from the boat out of

anxiety. When Pip gets foul in the lines, and his boatmates have to let the

whale go free to save him, he makes them angry. Stubb tells him never to

jump out of the boat again because Stubb won't pick him up next time. Pip,

however, does jump again, and is left alone in the middle of the sea's

"heartless immensity." Pip goes mad.

A Squeeze of the Hand, which describes the baling of the case (emptying the

sperm's head), is one of the funniest chapters in the novel. Because the

spermaceti quickly cools into lumps, the sailors have to squeeze it back

into liquid. Here, Ishmael goes overboard with his enthusiasm for the

"sweet and unctuous" sperm. He squeezes all morning long, getting

sentimental about the physical contact with the other sailors, whose hands

he encounters in the sperm. He goes on to describe the other parts of the

whale, including the euphemistically-named "cassock" (the whale's penis).

This chapter is also very funny, blasphemously likening the whale's organ

to the dress of clergymen because it has some pagan mysticism attached to

it. It serves an actual purpose on the ship: the mincer wears the black

"pelt" of skin from the penis to protect himself while he slices the horse-

pieces of blubber for the pots.

Ishmael then tries to explain the try-works, heavy structures made of pots

and furnaces that boil the blubber and derive all the oil from it. He

associates the try-works with darkness and a sense of exotic evil: it has

"an unspeakable, wild, Hindoo odor about it, such as may lurk in the

vicinity of funereal pyres." Furthermore, the pagan harpooneers tend it.

Ishmael also associates it with the red fires of Hell that, in combination

with the black sea and the dark night, so disorient him that he loses sense

of himself at the tiller. Everything becomes "inverted," he says, and

suddenly there is "no compass before me to steer by."

In a very short chapter, Ishmael describes in The Lamp how whalemen are

always in the light because their job is to collect oil from the seas. He

then finishes describing how whale's oil is processed: putting the oil in

casks and cleaning up the ship. Here he dismisses another myth about

whaling: whalers are not dirty. Sperm whale's oil is a fine cleaning agent.

But Ishmael admits that whalers are hardly clean for a day when the next

whale is sighted and the cycle begins again.

Ishmael returns to talking about the characters again, showing the

reactions of Ahab, Starbuck, Stubb, Flask, the Manxman, Queequeg, Fedallah,

and Pip to the golden coin fixed on the mainmast. Ahab looks at the

doubloon from Ecuador and sees himself and the pains of man. Starbuck sees

some Biblical significance about how man can find little solace in times of

trouble. Stubb, first saying he wants to spend it, looks deeper at the

doubloon because he saw his two superiors gazing meaningfully at it. He can

find little but some funny dancing zodiac signs. Then Flask approaches, and

says he sees "nothing here, round thing made of gold and whoever raises a

certain whale, this round thing belongs to him. So what's all this staring

been about?" Pip is the last to look at the coin and says, prophetically,

that here's the ship's "navel"{ something at the center of the ship,

holding it together.

Then the Pequod meets the Samuel Enderby, a whaling ship from London with a

jolly captain and crew. The first thing Ahab asks, of course, is if they

have seen Moby Dick. The captain, named Boomer, has, and is missing an arm

because of it. The story is pretty gory, but Boomer does not dwell too much

on the horrible details, choosing instead to talk about the hot rum toddies

he drank during his recovery. The ship encountered the white whale again

but did not want to try to fasten to it. Although the people on board the

Enderby think he is crazy, Ahab insists on knowing which way the whale went

and returns to his ship to pursue it.

In the next chapter, Ishmael backtracks, to explain why the name Enderby is

significant: this man fitted the first ever English sperm whaling ship.

Ishmael then exuberantly explains the history behind Enderby's before

telling the story of the particular whaler Samuel Enderby. The good food

aboard the Enderby earns the ship the title "Decanter."

Chapter 102-114


Ishmael now tries another tactic for interpreting the whale. In the chapter

called A Bower in the Arsacides, he discusses how he learned to measure a

whale's bones. When he was visiting his friend Tranquo, king of Tranque, he

lived in a culture in which the whale skeleton was sacred. After telling

how he learned to measure, he goes on to tell the results of the

measurements. He begins with the skull, the biggest part, then the ribs,

and the spine. But these bones, he cautions, give only a partial picture of

the whale since so much esh is wrapped around them. A person cannot still

find good representation of a whale in its entirety.

And Ishmael continues to "manhandle" the whale, self- consciously saying

that he does the best he knows how. So he decides to look at the Fossil

Whale from an "archaeological, fossiliferous, and antediluvian point of

view." He can't be too grandiloquent with his exaggerated words and diction

because the whale itself is so grand. He ashes credentials again, this time

as a geologist and then discusses his finds. But, again, he is unsatisfied:

"the skeleton of the whale furnishes but little clue to the shape of his

fully invested body." But this chapter does give a sense of the whale's age

and his pedigree.

Ishmael finally gives up, in awe, deconstructing the whale- -now he wants

to know if such a fabulous monster will remain on the earth. Ishmael says

that though they may not travel in herds anymore, though they may have

changed haunting grounds, they remain. Why? Because they have established a

new home base at the poles, where man cannot penetrate; because they've

been hunted throughout history and still remain; because the whale

population is not in danger for survival since many generations of whales

are alive at the same time.

Ahab asks the carpenter to make him a new leg because the one he uses is

not trustworthy. After hitting it heavily on the boat's wooden oor when he

returned from the Enderby, he does not think it will keep holding. Indeed,

just before the Pequod sailed, Ahab had been found lying on the ground with

the whalebone leg gouging out his thigh. So the carpenter, the do-it-all

man on the ship, has to make Ahab a new prosthetic leg. They discuss the

feeling of a ghost leg. When Ahab leaves, the carpenter thinks he is a

little queer.

A sailor then informs Ahab, in front of Starbuck, that the oil casks are

leaking. The sailor suggests that they stop to fix them, but Ahab refuses

to stop, saying that he doesn't care about the owners or profft. Starbuck

objects and Ahab points a musket at him. Says Starbuck, "I ask thee not to

beware of Starbuck; thou wouldst but laugh; but let Ahab beware of Ahab;

beware of thyself, old man." In cleaning out the stowed oil casks, Queequeg

falls sick. Thinking he is going to die, Queequeg orders a coffn made. He

lies in it and closes the cover, as Pip dances around the coffn. Soon,

Queequeg feels well again and gets out. Ishmael attributes this to his

"savage" nature.

In The Pacific, Ishmael gets caught up in the meditative, serene Pacific

Ocean. At the end of the chapter, he comes back to Ahab, saying that no

such calming thoughts entered the brain of the captain. Ishmael then pans

over to the blacksmith whose life on land disintegrated. With

characteristic panache, Ishmael explains that the sea beckons to broken-

hearted men who long for death but cannot commit suicide. The Forge

dramatizes an exchange between the blacksmith and Ahab in which the captain

asks the blacksmith to make a special harpoon to kill the white whale.

Although Ahab gives the blacksmith directions, he takes over the crafting

of the harpoon himself, hammering the steel on the anvil and tempering it

with the blood of the three harpooneers (instead of water). The scene ends

with Pip's laughter.

In The Gilder, Ishmael considers how the dreaminess of the sea masks a

ferocity. He speaks of the sea as "gilt" because it looks golden in the sun-

set and is falsely calm. The sea even makes Starbuck rhapsodize, making an

apostrophe (direct address of an absent or imaginary person or of a

personified abstraction, especially as a digression in the course of a

speech or composition) to the sea; Stubb answers him by surprise and, as

usual, makes light of the situation.

Chapters 115-125


These chapters show how badly off the Pequod really is. The somber Pequod,

still on the lookout for Moby Dick, runs into the Bachelor, a festive

Nantucket whaler on its way home with a full cargo. The captain of the

Bachelor, saying that he has only heard stories of the white whale and

doesn't believe them, invites Ahab and the crew to join his party. Ahab

declines. The next day, the Pequod kills several whales and the way that a

dying whale turns towards the sun spurs Ahab to speak out to it in wondrous

tones. While keeping a night vigil over a whale that was too far away to

take back to the ship immediately, Ahab hears from Fedallah the prophecy of

his death. Before Ahab can die, he must see two hearses, one "not made by

mortal hands" and one made of wood from America; and only hemp can kill the

captain. Back on the ship, Ahab holds up a quadrant, an instrument that

gauges the position of the sun, to determine the ship's latitude. Ahab

decides that it does not give him the orienteering information he wants and

tramples it underfoot. He orders the ship to change direction.

The next day, the Pequod is caught in a typhoon. The weird weather makes

white ames appear at the top of the three masts and Ahab refuses to let the

crew put up lightning rods to draw away the danger. While Ahab marvels at

the ship's three masts lit up like three spermaceti candles, hailing them

as good omens and signs of his own power, Starbuck sees them as a warning

against continuing the journey. When Starbuck sees Ahab's harpoon also

ickering with fire, he says that this is a sign that God is against Ahab.

Ahab, however, grasps the harpoon, and says, in front of a frightened crew,

there is nothing to fear in the enterprise that binds them all together. He

blows out the ame to "blow out the last fear. "In the next chapter,

Starbuck questions Ahab's judgment again{this time saying that they should

pull down the main-top-sail yard. Ahab says that they should just lash it

tighter, complaining that his first mate must think him incompetent. On the

bulwarks of the forecastle, Stubb and Flask are having their own

conversation about the storm and Ahab's behavior. Stubb basically dominates

the conversation and says that this journey is no more dangerous than any

other is even though it seems as if Ahab is putting them in extreme danger.

Suspended above them all on the main-top-sail yard, Tashtego says to

himself that sailors don't care that much about the storm, just rum. When

the storm finally dies down, Starbuck goes below to report to Ahab. On the

way to Ahab's cabin, he sees a row of muskets, including the very one that

Ahab had leveled at him earlier. Angry about Ahab's reckless and selfish

behavior, he talks to himself about whether he ought to kill his captain.

He decides he cannot kill Ahab in his sleep and goes up.

When Ahab is on deck the next day, he realizes that the storm has thrown

off the compasses. Ahab then pronounces himself "lord over the level

loadstone yet" and makes his own needle. Here Ishmael comments, "In this

fiery eyes of scorn and triumph, you then saw Ahab in all his fatal pride."

With all the other orienteering devices out of order, Ahab decides to pull

out the seldom-used log and line. Because of heat and moisture, the line

breaks and Ahab realizes that he now has none of his original orienteering

devices. He calls for Pip to help him and Pip answers with nonsense. Ahab,

touched by Pip's crazy speeches, says that his cabin will now be Pip's

because they boy "touchest [his] inmost center."

Chapters 126-132

Sailors are very superstitious. As the Pequod approaches the Equatorial

fishing ground, the sailors think that they hear ghosts wailing. The

Manxman (man from the Isle of Man) says that these are the voices of the

newly drowned men in the sea. Ahab says nonsense. When the Pequod's life-

buoy falls overboard and sinks, the sailors think it is a fulfillment of

evil that was foretold. The offcers decide to replace the life-buoy with

Queequeg's coffn.

Though the carpenter grumbles about having to transform the object, Ahab,

who is aware of the irony of the substitution, nevertheless calls the

carpenter "unprincipled as the gods" for going through with the


The Pequod encounters the ship Rachel while it is looking for Moby Dick in

these waters. Captain Gardiner of the , after afirming that he has indeed

seen Moby Dick, climbs aboard Ahab's ship and begs Ahab to help him find

his son, whose whaleboat was lost in the chase after the white whale. Ahab

refuses. Now that Ahab knows that the white whale is near, he spends a lot

of time walking the decks. As Ahab goes up one time, Pip wants to follow

him. Ahab tells him to stay in the captain's cabin, lest Pip's insanity

start to cure his own just when he's getting close to the whale and needs

to be a little crazy.

And so Ahab, shadowed everywhere by Fedallah, remains on deck, ever

watchful. This continuous watch sharpens Ahab's obsession and he decides

that he must be the first to sight the whale. He asks Starbuck to help him

get up the main-mast head and watch his rope. When he is there, a black

hawk steals his hat; Ishmael this considers a bad omen. The Pequod then

runs into the miserably misnamed ship Delight. The Delight has indeed

encountered Moby Dick, but the result was a gutted whaleboat and dead men.

As the Pequod goes by, the Delight drops a corpse in the water and

sprinkles the Pequod's hull with a "ghostly baptism."

In the chapter called The Symphony, disparage parts come together for a

crescendo. The pressure finally gets to Ahab and he seems human here,

dropping a tear into the sea. He and Starbuck have a bonding moment as Ahab

sadly talks about his continual, tiring whaling. He calls himself a fool

and thinks himself pathetic. Starbuck suggests giving up the chase, but

Ahab wonders if he can stop because he feels pushed on by Fate. But as Ahab

is asking these grand questions, Starbuck steals away. When Ahab goes to

the other side of the deck to gaze into the water, Fedallah, too, is

looking over the rail.

Chapters 133-Epilogue


Ahab can sense by smell that Moby Dick is near. Climbing up to the main

royal-mast head, Ahab spots Moby Dick and earns himself the doubloon. All

the boats set off in chase of the whale. When Moby Dick finally surfaces,

he stoves Ahab's boat. The whale is swimming too fast away from them and

they all return to the ship.

Saying that persistent pursuit of one whale has historically happened

before, Ishmael comments that Ahab still desperately wants to chase Moby

Dick though he has lost one boat. They do sight Moby Dick again and the

crewmen, growing increasingly in awe of Ahab and caught up in the thrill of

the chase, lower three boats. Starbuck stays to mind the Pequod. Ahab tries

to attack Moby Dick head on this time, but again, Moby Dick is triumphant.

He stoves Ahab's ship and breaks his false leg. When they return to the

Pequod, Ahab finds out that Fedallah is gone, dragged down by Ahab's own

line. Starbuck tells him to stop, but Ahab, convinced that he is only the

"Fate's lieutenant," says he must keep pursuing the whale.

. Still on the look out, the crew spots the white whale for a third time

but sees nothing until Ahab realizes, "Aye, he's chasing me now; not I,

him{ that's bad." They turn the ship around completely and Ahab mounts the

masthead himself. He sights the spout and lowers again. As he gets into his

boat and leaves Starbuck in charge, the two men exchange a poignant moment

in which Ahab asks to shake hands with his first made and the first mate

tries to tell him not to go. Dangerously, sharks bite at the oars as the

boats pull away.

Starbuck, in a monologue, laments Ahab's sure doom. On the water, Ahab sees

Moby Dick breach. Seeing Fedallah strapped to the whale by turns of rope,

Ahab realizes that this is the first hearse that the Parsee had forecasted.

The whale goes down again and Ahab rows close to the ship. He tells

Tashtego to find another ag and nail it to the main masthead. The boats

soon see the white whale again and go after him. But Moby Dick only turns

around, and heads for the Pequod at full speed. He smashes the ship.

It goes down without its captain. The ship, Ahab realizes, is the second

hearse. Impassioned, Ahab is now determined to strike at Moby Dick with all

of his power: "Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering

whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee;

for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee. Sink all coffns and all

hearses to one common pool and since neither can be mine, let me then tow

to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned

whale! Thus, I give up the spear!" After darting the whale, Ahab is caught

around the neck by the ying line. He is dragged under the sea. Tashtego,

meanwhile, is still trying to nail the ag to the ship's spar as it goes

down. He catches a sky-hawk in mid-hammer and the screaming bird, folded in

the ag, goes down with everything else.

In the Epilogue, Ishmael wraps up the story, saying that he is the only one

who survives the wreck. All the boats and ship were ruined. Ishmael

survives only because Queequeg's coffn bobs up and becomes his life buoy. A

day after the wreck, the Rachel, still cruising for her first lost son,

saves Ishmael.

The Scarlet Letter

Introduction-Chapter 1

Introduction: The first forty-four pages written by the author tell about

his life working at the Custom House in Salem Massachusetts. During his

time of employment there, he discovers some records in the attic and begins

to piece together the story of Hester Prynne, an adulterous man in Puritan

Salem. The Scarlet Letter is his account of the story with as many facts

as he, the author, was able to gather from the documents he found.

Chapter 1: Hawthorns first chapter is short, detailing the set up of

colonial Salem. He talks of the town and how essential prisons and

cemeteries are in the organization. Next to the steps of the Salem prison

is a rosebush that has survived centuries and Hawthorn says this bush gives

comfort with its beauty to the people who enter and leave the


Chapter 2: A town meeting is taking place and the people of the town,

mainly the women, are gathered for the release of the adulteress, Hester

Prynne. She steps out of the prison with the town beadle leading her with

his hand on her shoulder. Hawthorn describes her as beautiful with a very

proud stature that does not cower to the crowd of disdain that surrounds

her. On her chest she bears the scarlet letter A that is surrounded by

shining gold thread upon a gown that scandalizes the women of the town.

Clutched close to her breast is the child that was produced by her adultery

and the apparent reason she was not more harshly punished for her crime.

She stood there under public scrutiny, not with a look of shame but almost

bewilderment that her life had panned out as it had.

Chapter 3: Mistress Prynne is placed upon the pillory for three hours so

all can see her shame. As she is standing there with her babe, she notices

a new man in town along with an Indian. From the moment she sees him, she

cannot take her eyes from him. An angry look quickly flashes across the

mans face at the sight of her and he inquires to the town person next to

him why the woman is made to stand upon the pillory. Both the man and the

readers are informed that Mistress Prynne was married to a man who has not

yet returned from the Netherlands where they sailed from to New England.

Because she was so long away from her husband, it is obvious that he was

not the father of her child. The man asked of her sentence, and of the man

who did father the child and the towns person told him that the father is

not known. The Governor of the town who is standing on a higher platform

then appeals to the Reverend Dimmesdale to extract the name of father from

Mistress Prynne. After an emotional plea to Mistress Prynne, she still

refuses to state the name of the father of her child, and states that her

child has only a heavenly father.

Chapter 4: When Mistress Prynne was returned to the prison, she was in such

mental disarray that the jailer, Master Brackett, decided to call in the

physician. Roger Chillingworth, Hesters real husband, introduces himself

as the physician for Mistress Prynne and as soon as he enters the room, she

goes perfectly still. Mr. Chillingsworth was the same man who she saw when

she was on the pillory. He began to examine the baby and Hester expresses

her concern that he will hurt the child as revenge on her.

They talk about their failed marriage, and how there was never love

between them, and Roger tells her not to reveal to anyone who he really

was. After giving her a draught to calm her, he asks her who the father of

the child was. Again, as she did when asked by the Reverend, she refuses

to give the name of the father. At her refusal, he tells her that he will

find out who the man is and that she not breathe a word of his identity to


Chapter 5: Hester was released from prison and free to go wherever she

wished. Instead of fleeing the town she moved to a little cottage outside

of it, and supported herself with her needlework. She sewed for many

different people of the town but kept herself in plain clothing, save the

letter upon her bosom. She took all of the passion of her life and used it

to ply her needle. Much of her work she donated to the poor as penance for

her guilt. Although they all coveted her services, she was still an

outcast looked upon with malice and her sin burned deep in her soul.

Chapter 6: Hester named her child Pearl because she was her treasure in

life. Pearl was beautiful and intelligent, and had an air of a nymph about

her. Even as a baby, the child was fascinated by the scarlet letter Hester

wore upon her breast. This was a constant reminder for Hester of her sin.

Pearl was a happy laughing child who had a fiery passion and temper that

made Hester and others wonder if she was a demon with her black eyes.

Everywhere Hester went Pearl went also. They had only each other. Hester

attempted to raise her daughter with Puritan values but could not

discipline her and Pearl held the strings on whether or not she did what

she was told. Chapter 7: Hester and Pearl went to the Governor

Bellinghams house to deliver a pair of gloves she had embroidered for him.

More than the delivery, Hester was there to plead to be able to keep

Pearl. The people of the town thought that because of her sin, Hester was

unfit to raise her child. When she arrived to the house, the governor was

with other gentleman in the garden and they waited for a chance to speak

with him. As they were waiting, Pearl was examining a shining suit of

armor and saw Hester in it. She was delighted by the sight, and Hesters

image was lost behind the large shiny red letter that was magnified by the

polished armor.

Chapter 8: The Governor, the pastor John Wilson, Reverend Dimmesdale, and

Roger Chillingworth exited the garden to find their path blocked by the

nymph Pearl. Struck by the beauty of the scarlet clad child they ask her

to whom she belongs. She answers that she is Pearl, and her mothers

child. As they enter the hall, they see Mistress Prynne and are happy that

she has come so they can discuss what to do with Pearl. Testing to see

whether the child has been properly instructed so far, the dotting John

Winston asks young Pearl who made her. Pearl, though she knew the correct

answer was the Heavenly Father answered that she had been plucked by her

mother from the rose bush by the prison door.

The gentlemen were appalled by the childs answer and decided that Hester

should not raise her further. Hester was angry with this and pleaded

Reverend Dimmesdale who knew she was capable of guiding the child

spiritually to let her keep Pearl. She argued that God gave her Pearl, and

that they could not take away the only joy that God gave her. After

discussing it further among themselves, with the Reverend giving an

impassioned plea for Hester, they decided to let her keep Pearl. Hester

was thankful, and she and Pearl left for home. Mr. Chillingworth offered

to figure out the identity of the father of the child, but his offer was

refused. As she leaves, Hester realizes that she would have sold her soul

to the devil if it meant she could keep her child.

Chapter 9: Since his first appearance in town, the people looked on Roger

Chillingworth as a blessing. They were thankful that such a learned

physician was given to them. As time went on, Mr. Chillingworth and the

Reverend Dimmesdale became very close. Though he was young, the Reverend

was growing sicker and sicker by the day and the people of the town

implored him to let the physician examine him. He refused but continued to

become closer and closer to the old man. After a while they even began

living together in the home of a respected matron of the town. As time

passed, the people began to look at Mr. Chillingworth differently however.

Instead of seeing a man sent from God to help them, they saw in his old

disfigured form, a servant of Satan that was sent to haunt the Reverend.

Chapter 10: Mr. Chillingworth watched the Reverend searching him for the

secret sin of his soul. Searching for Hesters lover became the secret

purpose of his life and it clouded his head and heart. Slowly he was

trying to get the Reverend to confess to the deed, and one afternoon began

a discussion with him about unconfessed sin and how it eats away at the

soul. While they are talking, they see Hester and Pearl in the cemetery.

They look up at the men in the window and they wonder if the mischevious

nymph like, Pearl, is true evil. After the woman and the child leave the

cemetery, the men continue with their conversation.

Mr. Chillingworth accuses the Reverend that he cannot cure him until he

knows the pain upon his soul because that sin is part of his bodily

ailment. In a moment of passion, the Reverend blows up at him telling him

that he will reveal nothing to the earthly man and leaves the room. This

display of passion makes Mr. Chillingworth exceptionally pleased because it

brings him closer to finding out that his suspicions of Hester and the

Reverend are true.

Chapter 11: As the days went by the Reverend Dimmesdale continued to be

haunted more and more by the sin upon his soul. He would look upon his

companion the physician with disgust and feel as if the black part of his

heart was spilling over into the rest of his life. The people of the town

began to worship him more, saying he was a wonderful and saintly young

preacher. As they looked up to him with greater fervor, he began to hate

himself more. Many a time he stood on his pulpit aching to tell them of

his sin, release it from his heart. However, all he could manage to say

was that he was a terrible sinner, which only inspired his congregation

more because they saw him as virtually flawless. He fasted, prayed, and

kept vigils in order to purge himself, but the sin upon his soul haunted

him without end.

Chapter 12: It was midnight and Reverend Dimmesdale was so tortured by his

sin that he took himself out and stood upon the scaffold that Hester had

stood. He planned to stay there all night suffering from his own shame.

At one point he cried out hoping in his mind to wake the whole town so they

could see him standing there, so his sin could finally be revealed and his

mind eased. However, no one in the town was awakened by his cry. At one

point from his perch, he saw the Pastor John Winston walking towards him,

but the man was wrapped up tightly in his cloak and did not notice the

Reverend on the scaffold.

His mind wandered to what he would look like in the morning when his body

was frozen with cold, and at the image of himself in his mind, he laughed.

His laugh was returned by a sprightly laugh in the darkness that was none

other than Pearls. He cried out to her in the night, and to Hester. They

appeared having been out measuring a robe for a man who had died that

evening. At the Reverends request, they came to stand upon the scaffold

with him and they joined hands in their sin. Pearl asked the Reverend

repeatedly if he would come stand with them on the scaffold the next day at

noon, but the Dimmesdale refused. Out of the darkness, Mr. Chillingworth

appeared, and the Reverend spoke his fear and hatred of the man. He asked

who he really was, and because of her oath, Hester kept her silence. Pearl

whispered gibberish to him in revenge for him not standing with them the

next day on the scaffold. The Reverend looked up into the sky and saw a

meteor trail that looked like a large red A leering at him. Mr.

Chillingworth told him to come home and he left the scaffold with the

evilly happy physician.

Chapter 13: Seven years had passed since little Pearls birth. The letter

on Hesters chest to the village people had become a symbol of her good

deeds. It set her apart from the general population, but many looked on

her as a sister of charity. When someone was in need she was always the

one by his or her side. Many people in town said the A stood for able.

She had changed. She was an empty form, void of the passion and love that

people were able to see in her before.

Her luxurious hair was always hidden from the sight of the people. After

the ministers vigil, Hester found a new cause for sacrifice, a new

purpose. She decided to talk to the old physician, her former husband, and

try to save his victim from further mental torture. After making her

decision, she came upon him as he was walking the peninsula.

Chapter 14: Hester instructed Pearl to go run and play and she went to a

pool and saw herself there. Hester accosted Mr. Chillingworth and he began

telling her of all the good things the people in the town had said about

her. The leaders in the town at the last council meeting had even thought

about admitting Hester to take the letter off her bosom. Hester told him

that if the Lord meant her to take it off her chest that it would have

fallen off long ago. While they began talking, Hester took a good look at

him. In the past seven years he had aged well, but there was a strikingly

different look about him. He wore a guarded look of an eager angry man who

was out for revenge.

They began talking about the minister and Mr. Chillingworth reveals that

had it not been for his care, the minister would have died long ago.

Hester asks if he has not had enough revenge since he was able to torture

the minister every day by burying into his heart. He answers no, that it

will never be enough. Hester tells him that she plans on revealing his

secret to the minister and he tells her that neither of them are sinful and

evil, they just must lead the lives that they were given because of her

sin. They say farewell, and Hester leaves him to gathering herbs.

Chapter 15: Hester watches him for a while from a distance disgusted at the

evil she sees in him. She turns to find little Pearl who was playing with

all the different things in nature. When Pearl goes back to her mother,

Hester sees that the child has made a letter A out of seaweed and placed it

on her chest. Hester asks the child if she knows what the letter her

mother wears means. Pearl answers that it is the same reason the minister

keeps his hand over his chest.

That is all she knows however, and she asks earnestly why she wears the

scarlet letter, and why the minister places his hand over his heart. Ever

since she was little, Pearl had a certain fascination with the letter that

tortured her mother even more. Hester decided it was better to not

unburden her sin upon her child and told her daughter that it meant

nothing. After that day however, Pearl would ask her mother two or three

times a day what the scarlet letter meant.

Chapter 16: : Hester learned that the Minister had gone into the woods to

visit a friend who lived among the Indians. She learned when he was

expected to return, and when the day came, she and Pearl went into the

forest so she could catch him on his return and speak with him in private.

As they enter the forest, Pearl says that she can stand in the sunlight,

but the sunlight runs away from Hester. In response, Hester reaches out to

touch the stream of light that flocks around the little elf-child, and it

vanishes when her hand comes near. Pearl then asks her mother for a story

about the black man who inhabits the forest, which she over heard a woman

the previous evening talking about. Pearl said that people went into the

forest and signed the Black mans book with their blood and that she heard

the scarlet letter was the black mans mark on her mother. They traveled

into the deep into the forest and stopped next to a little brook that Pearl

began playing around. After a while, they saw the Reverend Dimmesdale come

walking slowly down the path, and Hester tells Pearl to run and play.

Chapter 17: Hester calls out to the Minister and he instantly straightens

up and looks towards her. He finds out it is she and they inquire on how

their lives have been in the last seven years. They sit down together on a

log, and ask each other if they have found peace. The minister expresses

his sadness and how he feels like a hypocrite teaching others to be holy,

when he himself has a terrible hidden sin. Hester tries to help him by

talking with him and caring for him. He thanks her for her friendship.

She then tells him of Roger Chillingsworth, how he is her husband, and out

for revenge. Dimmesdale is horrified but knew that something was wrong

with Roger Chillingworth. Hester could not take the frown that descended

upon his face, and asked him if he forgave her. He has, and she asks if he

remembers what they had. She hints that they once had a great passion and

affection for each other. Hester talks of them leaving together. Arthur

says he has not the strength to travel that far, but with Hester helping

him, they thought they could do it.

Chapter 18: Together they decide to leave the New World together and not

torture themselves further with their sin so that only God will judge them.

To them, they are damned already. Hester unhooks her scarlet letter and

tosses it by the bubbling brook. They make plans together and say that

they will leave for England on the ship that is in the harbor. Talking of

their love and their plans, they call back Pearl, for once happy and with

lifted spirits. Pearl is off in the forest playing and interacting with

the animals. When they call her back, Pearl comes slowly when she sees

them sitting together.

Chapter 19: They sat there looking at Pearl as she approached. She had

adorned herself with wild flowers and looked like a fairy child. They

rejoiced in their child as she came towards him, and Arthur was

exceptionally afraid and anxious for the interview. Pearl stopped at the

brook and stared at them. The child pointed at her mother with a frown.

Hester called out to her harshly to come and Pearl began screaming and

throwing a tantrum. Hester realized that the child was upset that her

scarlet letter was not affixed to her mothers breast. She walked over to

where it lay on the ground and showed it to the child. She pinned it back

into place, and Pearl was pacified and happy again. They approached the

minister and the three of them held hands, and they tried to explain to her

that they were all going to be a happy family. The minister kissed Pearls

forehead and she ran quickly to the brook to try to wash it away.

Chapter 20: Arthur Dimmesdale walked home happily. For the first time in

seven years, there was a bounce in his step and a light in his hurting

heart. On his way, he saw some of his parishioners and he had thoughts of

corruption on his mind. He thought about the reaction he would get if he

whispered corrupting things in their ears. There are three different

people he runs into in which he feels this. He resists the temptation to

do this, and wonders why he is having these thoughts. He wonders if he

signed the black mans book in the forest with his blood. He runs into a

woman known as the town witch, and she tells him the next time he wants to

go into the forest she would go with him. When he arrives home, Mr.

Chillingworth comes into his room, and the Reverend refuses to take anymore

of his medicine. He sits at his desk and reworks the sermon he had planned

for the following celebration.

Chapter 21: A public holiday because of the election was planned and

everyone from that and the neighboring towns attended in their best

clothing. Hester and little Pearl attended but stayed slightly apart from

the crowd. Though everyone was packed close to see the parade, there was

an empty circle around Hester because of her scarlet letter. She had gone

previously to make plans with the captain of the ship that they were going

to take to England, and she saw the captain of that vessel talking to Roger

Chillingworth. The captain then came over to her and informed her that the

physician would be attending the voyage with them. She looked towards him,

and he smiled at her evilly.

Chapter 22: The parade began and Pearl saw the minister when he reached the

front. She asked if that was the same minister who kissed her in the

woods, and Hester told her to not talk about it in the marketplace.

Mistress Hibbins approached her and began talking to Hester about the

minister. Hester denied any involvement with him, and they began watching

as he preached to the people. Pearl left her mother and wandered around.

The captain of the ship told Pearl to give her mother a message for him.

She told him that her father was the Prince of Air. She threatened him and

ran to her mother. Hesters mind wandered and thought about how she would

soon be free of he scarlet letter and the pain associated with it.

Chapter 23: The minister ended his incredible speech and it was one of the

best of his life. The people were inspired and as the parade turned

therefor, everyone would exit. The minister looked exceptionally sick and

called to Hester and Pearl to come to him. Roger Chillingworth ran towards

and tried to get Hester back from the minister. He is dying and with his

last breaths he shouts his sin to the audience around and blesses Hester

and Pearl. He tells the people to take another better look at Hester and

at himself so they see the truth in them. He ripped off the ministerial

band from his chest, and the people stood shocked. The people are struck

with awe and sympathy. The doctor came over the minister, awestruck

because he will lose him and his revenge. Dimmesdale asks Pearl for a kiss

and she finally places one on his lips. Hester kneels over him and asks

him if they will not see each other again, and spend eternity together.

The reverend tells her that their sin was too large, and that is all she

should be concerned. He shouted farewell to the audience and breathed his

last breath.

Chapter 24: People swore after that day that when they saw the minister rip

off the band on his breast that a scarlet A resided there. Many thought

that he made the revelation in the dying hour so everyone would know that

one who appeared so pure, was as much a sinner as the rest of them. Roger

Chillingworth died within the year and bequeathed large amounts of property

both in New England and in England to Pearl. This made Pearl the richest

heiress in the New World. Soon after his death, Hester Prynne and her

little Pearl disappeared. Years later Hester came back alone to live with

her sin in her cottage. Pearl was thought to be happily married elsewhere

and mindful of her mother. After her return, many people of the town went

to Hester for advice and help when they were in need. After many years she

died, and was placed next to the saintly minister. They shared a tombstone

and they would be together forever.

Character Profiles

Hester Prynne: A beautiful puritan woman full of strong passions, Hester

Prynne is the main character in the story. Employed as the village

seamstress, she is strong and caring, helping anyone she can when he or she

are in need. With a penitent heart, Hester travels through the story

becoming only a shadow of her former passionate loving self. Other than

the scarlet letter, she was a very moral woman whose only joy in life was

her daughter Pearl. Roger Chillingsworth: The missing husband of Hester

Prynne. He shows up the day that Hester is put on public display and does

not show himself as her husband. A scholar and a man of medicine, his soul

purpose in his life becomes revenge against the man who helped his wife

sin. By the end of the story, he is shown to be an evil character.

Pearl: Looked on as the devils child, Pearl is the only one in the story

that is purely innocent. She is passionate, intelligent, and energetic.

Pearl is in touch with nature and with her mothers feelings. Ever since

she was born, Pearl had a fascination with the scarlet letter that is a

constant reminder for Hester of her sin.

Arthur Dimmesdale: The minister of the town that the people adore, Arthur

was the secret lover of Hester Prynne. He was a sickly man who took his

sin very seriously. He spent the seven years since his indiscretion with

Mistress Prynne trying to repent. He wore down his body with his penitence

and his sin ate away his soul. In the end, he frees himself from his guilt

by admitting to everyone his sin.

Metaphor Analysis

The Rose Bush: A rose bush that grew outside the prison was a symbol of

survival, that there is life after the prison where Hester spent he

beginning of the story.

The Scarlet Letter A: The letter that Hester was forced to wear upon her

bosom, the scarlet letter was not only a symbol of her adulterous sin, but

of the women herself. The letter masks her beauty and passion as the story

goes until it is what she is known.

The Black Man in the Woods: the peoples symbol for the devil. The woods in

those times were a very scary place, and they thought that people that went

into it came out evil and corrupted.

Theme Analysis

The Scarlet Letter is a story that illustrates intricate pieces of the

Puritan lifestyle. Centered first on a sin committed by Hester Prynne and

her secret lover before the story ever begins, the novel details how sin

affects the lives of the people involved. For Hester, the sin forces her

into isolation from society and even from herself. Her qualities that

Hawthorne describes at the opening of the book, i.e. her beauty, womanly

qualities, and passion are, after a time, eclipsed by the A she is forced

to wear. An example of this is her hair. Long hair is something in this

time period that is a symbol of a woman. At the beginning of the story,

Hawthorne tells of Hesters long flowing hair. After she wears the scarlet

letter for a time, he paints a picture of her with her hair out of site

under a cap, and all the wanton womanliness gone from her.

Yet, even with her true eclipsed behind the letter, of the three main

characters affected, Hester has the easiest time because her sin is out in

the open. More than a tale of sin, the Scarlet Letter is also an intense

love story that shows itself in the forest scene between Hester and the

minister Arthur Dimmesdale. With plans to run away with each, Arthur and

Hester show that their love has surpassed distance and time away from each

other. This love also explains why Hester would not reveal the identity of

her fellow sinner when asked on the scaffolding. Roger Chillingworth is

the most affected by the sin, though he was not around when the sin took

place. Demented by his thoughts of revenge and hate, Hawthorne shows Mr.

Chillingworth to be a devil or as a man with an evil nature. He himself

commits one of the seven deadly sins with his wrath.

By the end of the tale that surpasses seven years, Hester is respected and

revered by the community as a doer of good works, and the minister is

worshipped for his service in the church. Only Mr. Chillingworth is looked

upon badly by the townspeople although no one knows why. Through it all,

Hawthorne illustrates that even sin can produce purity, and that purity

came in the form of the sprightly Pearl. Though she is isolated with her

mother, Pearl finds her company and joy in the nature that surrounds her.

She alone knows that her mother must keep the scarlet letter on her at all

times, and that to take it off is wrong.

Through the book the child is also constantly asking the minister to

confess his sin to the people of the town inherently knowing that it will

ease his pain. Hawthornes metaphor of the rose growing next to the prison

is a good metaphor for Pearls life that began in that very place. The

reader sees this connection when Pearl tells the minister that her mother

plucked her from the rose bush outside of the prison. Finally, for all the

characters, Hawthornes novel illustrates how one sin can escalate to

encompass ones self so that the true humans behind the sin are lost. This

is what makes Hawthornes novel not only a story of love vs. hate, sin vs.

purity, good vs. evil, but all of these combined to make a strikingly

historical tragedy as well.

Top Ten Quotes

1) It may serve, let us hope, to symbolize some sweet moral blossom that

may be found along the track, or relieve the darkening close of a tale of

human frailty and sorrow. 2) People say, said another, that the

Reverend Master Dimmesdale, her godly pastor, takes it very grievously to

his heart that such a scandal has come upon his congregation. 3) If

thou feelest to be for thy souls peace, and that they earthly punishment

will there by be made more effectual to salvation, I charge thee to speak

out the name of thy fellow-sinner and fellow-sufferer. 4) But she named

the infant Pearl, as being of great price- purchased with all she had-

her mothers only pleasure. 5) After putting her fingers in her mouth,

with many ungrateful refusals to answer Mr. Wilsons question, the child

finally announced that she had not been made at all, but had been plucked

by her mother off the bush of wild roses that grew by the prison door 6)

He hath done a wild thing ere now, this pious Mr. Dimmesdale, in the hot

passion of his heart! 7) Such helpfulness was found in her- so much

power to do and power to sympathize- that many people refused to interpret

the scarlet A by its original signification. They said that it meant

Able; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a womens strength. 8) That

old man!- the physician!- the one whom they call Roger Chillingworth!-he

was my husband! 9) Pacify her, if thou lovest me! 10) Hester

Prynne cried he, with a piercing earnestness in the name of Him, so

terrible and so merciful, who gives me grace, at this last moment, to do

what- for my own heavy sin and miserable agony- I withheld myself from

doing seven years ago, come hither now, and twine thy strength about me!

Slaughterhouse Five

Chapter One. Summary:

The narrator assures us that the book we are about to read is true, more or

less. The parts dealing with World War II are most faithful to actual

events. Twenty-three years have passed since the end of the war, and for

much of that time the narrator has been trying to write about the bombing

of Dresden. He was never able to bring make the project work. When he

thinks about Dresden's place in his memory, he always recalls two things:

an obscene limerick about a man whose penis has let him down, and "My Name

is Yon Yonson," a song which has no ending.

Late some nights, the narrator gets drunk and begins to track down old

friends with the telephone. Some years ago he tracked down Bernard O'Hare,

an old war buddy of his, using Bell Atlantic phone operators. When he

tracked his old friend down, he asked if Bernard would help him remember

things about the war. Bernard seemed unenthusiastic. When the narrator

suggests the execution of Edgar Derby, an American who stole a teapot from

the ruins, as the climax of the novel, Bernard still seems unenthusiastic.

The best outline the narrator ever made for his Dresden book was on a roll

of toilet paper, using crayon. Colors represented different people, and the

lines crisscrossed when people met, and ended when they died. The outline

ended with the exchange of prisoners who had been liberated by Americans

and Russians.

After the war, the narrator went home, married, and had kids, all of whom

are grown now. He studied anthropology at the University of Chicago, and in

anthropology he learned that "there was absolutely no difference between

anybody," and that "nobody was ridiculous or bad or disgusting." He's

worked various jobs, and tried to keep up work on his Dresden novel all

this time.

He actually did go to see Bernard O'Hare just a few weeks after finding him

over the telephone. He brought his young daughters, who were sent upstairs

to play with O'Hare's kids. The men could not think of any particularly

good memories or stories, and the narrator noticed that Mary, Bernard's

wife (to whom Slaughterhouse Five is dedicated), seemed very angry about

something. Finally, she confronted him: the narrator and Bernard were just

babies when they fought. Mary was angry because if the narrator wrote a

book, he would make himself and Bernard tough men, glorifying war and

turning scared babies into heroes. The movie adaptation would then star

"Frank Sinatra and John Wayne or some of those other glamorous, war-loving,

dirty old men" (14). Wars would look good, and we would be sure to have

more of them. The narrator promised that it won't be that kind of book, and

that he'd call it The Children's Crusade. He and Mary were friends starting

at that moment. That night, he and Bernard looked through Bernard's library

for information on the real Children's Crusade, a war slightly more sordid

than the other crusades. The scheme was cooked up by two monks who planned

to raise an army of European children and then sell them into slavery in

North Africa. Sleepless later that night, the narrator looked at a history

of Dresden published in 1908. The book described a Prussian siege of the

city in the eighteenth century.

In 1967, the narrator and O'Hare returned to Dresden. On the flight over,

the narrator got stuck in Boston due to delays. In a hotel in Boston, he

felt that someone had played with all the clocks. With every twitch of a

clock, it seemed that years passed. That night, he read a book by Roethke

and another book by Erika Ostrovsky. The Ostrovsky book, Cline and His

Vision, is a story of a French soldier whose skull gets cracked during

World War I. He hears noises and suffers from insomnia forever afterward,

and at night he writes grotesque, macabre novels. Cline sees death and the

passage of time as the same process.

The narrator also read about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in the

hotel room's Gideon Bible. He calls attention to the moment when Lot's wife

looks back and is turned into a pillar of salt. He loves her for that act,

because it was such a human thing to do.

Now, he presents us with his war book. He will strive to look back no more.

This book, he says, is a failure. It was bound to be a failure because it

was written by a pillar of salt. He gives us the first line and the last,

and the central story of the novel is ready to begin.

Chapter Two. Summary:

"Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time." He wanders from moment to moment

in his life, experiencing chronologically disparate events right after one

another. He sees his birth and death and everything in between, all out of

order, with no pattern to predict what will come next. Or so he believes.

Billy was born in 1922 in Ilium, New York. Tall, thin, and embarrassingly

weak, he made an unlikely soldier. He was going to night school in

optometry when he got drafted to fight in World War II. His father died in

a hunting accident before Billy left for Europe. The Germans captured Billy

during the Battle of the Bulge. In 1945 he returned to the States, finished

optometry school, and married the daughter of the school's owner. During

the engagement, he was hospitalized for a nervous breakdown. After his

release, he finished school, married the girl, got his own practice with

help from his father-in-law, became quite rich, and had two kids. In 1968

he was the sole survivor of a plane crash. While he was in the hospital,

his wife died of carbon monoxide poisoning. He returned home for rest, but

without warning one day he went to New York and claimed on the radio that

he had been kidnapped by aliens called Trafalmadorians. Billy's daughter,

Barbara, retrieved him from New York. A month later, Billy wrote a letter

to Ilium's newspaper describing the aliens. The Trafalmadorians are shaped

like two-foot tall toilet plungers, suction cup down.

We now see Billy working on a second letter describing the Trafalmadorian

conception of time. All time happens simultaneously, so a man who dies is

actually still alive, since all moments exist at all times. Billy works on

his letter, oblivious to the increasingly frantic shouts of his daughter,

who has stopped by to check on him. The burden of caring for Billy has made

Barbara difficult and unforgiving.

We move to the first time Billy gets unstuck in time. Billy receives

minimal training as a chaplain's assistant before being shipped to Europe.

He arrives in September of 1944, right in the middle of the Battle of the

Bulge. He never meets his chaplain or gets a proper helmet or boots.

Although he survives the onslaught, he wanders behind German lines, tagging

along with two scouts and an anti-tank gunner named Roland Weary. Weary

repeatedly saves Billy's life, mostly by not allowing him to lie down in

the snow and die. Although the scouts are experienced, Weary is as new to

the war as Billy is; he just fancies himself as having more of a taste for

it. By firing the anti-tank gun incorrectly, his gun crew put scorch marks

into the ground. Because of those marks, the position of the gun crew was

revealed to a Tiger tank that fired back. Everyone but Weary was killed. He

is stupid, fat, cruel, and violent. Back in Pittsburgh he was friendless,

and constantly getting ditched. His father collects torture devices. He

carries a cruel trench knife, various pieces of equipment that have been

issued to him, and a pornographic photo of a woman with a horse. He plagues

Billy with macho, aggressive conversation. In his own mind, Weary narrates

the war stories he will one day tell. Although he is almost as clumsy and

slow as Billy, he imagines himself and the two scouts as fast friends. In

his head he dubs them and himself the Three Musketeers, and tells himself

the story of how the Three Musketeers saved the life of a dumb, incompetent

college kid.

Straggling behind the others, Billy becomes unstuck in time. He goes back

to the red light of pre-birth and then forward again to a day in his

childhood with his father at the YMCA. His father tries to teach him how to

swim by the sink-or-swim method. Billy sinks, and someone has to rescue

him. He jumps forward to 1965, when he is a middle-aged man visiting his

mother in a nursing home. Then he jumps to 1958, and Billy is attending his

son's Little League banquet. Leap to 1961: Billy is at a party, totally

drunk and cheating on his wife for the first and only time. Then, he is

back in 1944, being shaken awake by Weary. Weary and Billy catch up to the

scouts. Dogs are barking in the distance, and the Germans are searching for

them. Billy is in bad shape: he looks like hell, can barely walk, and is

having vivid (but pleasant) hallucinations. Weary tries to be chummy with

his supposed buddies, the scouts, grouping himself with them as "the Three

Musketeers." The scouts coldly tell him that he and Billy are on their own.

Billy goes to 1957, when he gives a speech as the newly elected president

of the Lion's Club. Although he has a momentary bout of stage fright, his

speech is beautiful. He has taken a public speaking course.

He leaps back to 1944. Ditched again, Weary starts to beat Billy up,

furious that this weak college kid has cost him his membership in "the

Three Musketeers." He cruelly beats Billy, who is in such a state that he

can only laugh. Suddenly, Weary realizes that they are being watched by

five German soldiers and a police dog. They have been captured.

Chapter Three. Summary:

The troops who capture Billy and Weary are irregulars, newly enlisted men

using the equipment of newly dead soldiers. Their commander is a tough

German corporal, whose beautiful boots are a trophy from a battle long ago.

Once, while waxing the boots, he told a soldier that if you stared into

their shine you could see Adam and Eve. Though Billy has never heard the

corporal's claim, looking into the boots now he sees Adam and Eve and loves

them for their innocence, vulnerability, and beauty. A blond fifteen-year-

old boy helps Billy to his feet; he looks as beautiful and innocent as Eve.

In the distance, shots sound out as the two scouts are killed. Waiting in

ambush, they were found and shot in the backs of their heads.

The Germans take Weary's things, including the pornographic picture, which

the two old men grin about, and Weary's boots. The fifteen-year old gets

Weary's boots, and Weary gets the boy's clogs. Weary and Billy are made to

march a long distance to a cottage where American POWs are being detained.

The soldiers there say nothing. Billy falls asleep, his head on the

shoulder of a Jewish chaplain.

Billy leaps in time to 1967, although it takes him a while to figure out

the date. He is giving an eye exam in his office in Ilium. His car, visible

outside his window, has conservative stickers on the bumper; the stickers

were gifts from his father-in-law.

He leaps back to the war. A German is kicking his feet, telling him to wake

up. The Americans are assembled outside for photographs. The photographer

takes pictures of Billy's and Weary's feet as evidence of how poorly

equipped the American troops are. They stage photos of Billy being

captured. Billy then returns to 1967, driving to the Lion's club. He drives

through a black ghetto, an area recovering from recent riots and fires. He

largely ignores what he sees there. At the Lion's club, a marine major

talks about the need to continue the fight in Vietnam. He advocates bombing

North Vietnam into the Stone Age, if necessary, and Billy does not think of

the horror of bombing, which he has witnessed himself. He is simply having

lunch. The narrator mentions that he has a prayer on the wall of his

office: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

courage to change the things I can, and wisdom always to tell the


The narrator tells us that Billy cannot change past, present, or future.

After lunch, Billy goes home. He is a wealthy man now, with a son in the

Green Berets and a daughter about to get married; he also is seized

occasionally by sudden and inexplicable bouts of weeping. During one of

these spells, he closes his eyes and finds himself back in World War II. He

is marching with an ever-growing line of Americans making their way through

Luxembourg. They cross into Germany, being filmed by the Germans who want a

record of their great victory. Weary's feet are sore and bloody from

marching on the German boy's clogs. The Americans are sorted by rank, and a

colonel tries to talk with Billy. The colonel is dying; he tries to be

chummy with Billy. He has always wanted to be called "Wild Bob" by his men.

He dreams of having a reunion of his men in his hometown of Cody, Wyoming.

He invites Billy and the other men to come. Vonnegut mentions that he and

Bernard O'Hare were there when the colonel gave his invitation. All of the

POWs are put into train cars. The train does not leave for two days; during

that time Wild Bob dies. The boxcars are so crowded that to sleep the men

have to take turns lying down. When the train finally begins its trek

deeper into Germany, Billy jumps through time again. It is 1967, and he is

about to be kidnapped for the first time by the Trafalmadorians.

Chapter Four. Summary:

In 1967, on his daughter's wedding night, Billy cannot sleep. Because he is

unstuck in time, he knows that he will soon be kidnapped by a

Trafalmadorian flying saucer. He kills time unproductively in the meantime.

He watches a war movie, and because he is unstuck in time the movie goes

forward and then backward. He goes out to meet the ship, and he is taken as

planned. As the ship shoots out into space, Billy is jarred back to 1944.

In the boxcar, none of the men want Billy to sleep next to them because he

yells and thrashes in his sleep. He is forced to sleep while standing. In

another car, Weary dies of gangrene in his feet. As he slowly dies over the

course of days, he tells people again and again about the Three Musketeers.

He also asks that someone get revenge for him on the man who caused his

death. He blames Billy Pilgrim, of course.

The train finally arrives at a camp, and Billy and the other men are pushed

and prodded along. The camp is full of dying Russian POWs. At points,

Vonnegut likens the Russians' faces to radium dials. The Americans are all

given coats; Billy's is too small. They go into a delousing station, where

all of the men strip naked. Billy has one of the worst bodies there; he is

skinny and weak, and a German soldier comments on that fact. We are

introduced briefly to Edgar Derby and Paul Lazarro. Derby is the oldest POW

there, a man who pulled strings to get into the army. He is a high school

teacher from Indianapolis, and he is physically sturdy despite his forty-

four years of age. He will be shot after the Dresden bombing for trying to

steal a teapot.

Paul Lazarro is a car thief from Illinois. His body is even weaker and

less healthy than Billy's. He was in Roland Weary's boxcar, and he vowed

solemnly to Weary that he would find and kill Billy Pilgrim. When the

scalding water turns on, Billy leaps back to his infancy. His mother has

just finished giving him a bath. He then leaps forward to a Sunday game of

golf, played with three other optometrists. Then, he leaps in time to the

space ship, on his first trip to Trafalmadore. He talks with one of his

captors about time, and he says that the Trafalmadorians sound like they do

not believe in free will. The alien replies that in all of the inhabited

planets of the galaxy, Earth is the only one whose people believe in the

concept of free will.

Chapter Five. Summary:

En route to Trafalmadore, Billy asks for something to read. The only human

novel is Valley of the Dolls, and when Billy asks for a Trafalmadorian

novel, he learns that the aliens' novels are slim, sleek volumes. Because

they have a different concept of time, Trafalmadorians have novels arranged

by juxtaposition of marvelous moments. The books have no cause or effect or

chronology; their beauty is in the arrangement of events meant to be read

simultaneously. Billy jumps in time to a visit to the Grand Canyon taken

when he was twelve years old. He is terrified of the canyon. His mother

touches him and he wets his pants. He jumps forward in time just ten days,

to later in the same vacation. He is visiting Carlsbad Caverns. The ranger

turns the lights off, so that the tourists can experience total darkness.

But Billy sees a light nearby: the radium dial of his father's watch.

Billy jumps back to the war. The Germans think Billy is one of the funniest

creatures they've seen in all of the war. His coat is preposterously small,

and on his already awkward body it looks ridiculous. The Americans give

their names and serial numbers so that they can be reported to the Red

Cross, and then they are marched to sheds occupied by middle-aged British

POWs. The British welcome them with singing. These British POWs are

officers, some of the first Brits taken prisoner in the war. They have been

prisoners for four years. Due to a clerical error early in the war, the Red

Cross shipped them an incredible surplus of food, which they have hoarded

cleverly. Consequently, they are some of the best-fed people in Europe.

Their German captors adore them.

To prepare for their American guests, the Brits have cleaned and set out

party favors. Candles and soap, supplied by the Germans, are plentiful: the

British do not know that these items are made from the bodies of Holocaust

victims. They have prepared a huge dinner and a dramatic adaptation of

Cinderella. Billy is so unhinged that his laughter at the performance

becomes hysterical shrieking, and he is taken to the hospital and doped up

on morphine. Edgar Derby watches over him, reading The Red Badge of

Courage. He leaps in time to the mental ward where he recovered in 1948.

In the mental ward, Billy's bed is next to the bed of Elliot Rosewater.

Like Billy, he has little love for life, in part because of things he saw

and did in the war. He is the man who introduces Billy to the science

fiction of Kilgore Trout. Billy is enduring one of his mother's dreaded

visits. She is a simple, religious woman. She makes Billy feel worse just

by being there. Billy leaps back in time to the POW camp. A British colonel

talks to Derby; after the newly arrived Americans shaved, the British were

shocked by how young they all were. Derby tells of how he was captured: the

Americans were pushed back into a forest, and the Germans rained shells on

them until they surrendered.

Billy leaps back to the hospital. He is being visited by his ugly,

overweight fiance Valencia. He knew he was going crazy when he proposed to

her. He does not want to marry her. She is visiting now, eating a Three

Musketeers bar and wearing a diamond engagement ring that Billy found while

in Germany. Elliot tells her about The Gospel from Outer Space, a Kilgore

Trout book.

Valencia tries to talk to Billy about plans for their wedding and

marriage, but he is not too involved. He leaps forward in time to the zoo

on Trafalmadore, where he was on display when he was forty-four years old.

The habitat is furnished with Sears and Roebuck furniture. He is naked. He

answers questions posed by the Trafalmadorian tourists. He learns that

there are five sexes among the Trafalmadorians, but the sex difference is

only visible in the fourth dimension. On earth there are actually seven

sexes, all necessary to the production of children; earthlings just do not

notice the sex difference between themselves because many of the sex acts

occur in the fourth dimension. These ideas baffle Billy, and they in turn

are baffled by his linear concept of time. Billy expects the

Trafalmadorians to be concerned about or horrified by the wars on earth. He

worries that earthlings will eventually threaten all the other races in the

galaxy, causing the eventual destruction of the universe. The

Trafalmadorians put their hands over their eyes, which lets Billy know that

he is being stupid.

The Trafalmadorians already know how the universe will end: during

experiments with a new fuel, one of their test pilots pushes a button and

the entire universe will disappear. They cannot prevent it. It has always

happened that way. Billy correctly concludes that trying to prevent wars on

Earth is futile. The Trafalmadorians also have wars, but they choose to

ignore them. They spend their time looking at the pleasant moments rather

than the unpleasant ones; they suggest that humans learn to do the same.

Billy leaps back in time to his wedding night. It is six months after his

release from the mental ward. The narrator reminds us that Valencia and her

father are very rich, and Billy will benefit greatly from his marriage to

her. After they have sex, Valencia tries to ask Billy questions about the

war. She wants a heroic war story, but Billy does not really respond to

her. He has a crazy thought about the war, which Vonnegut says would make a

good epitaph for Billy, and for the author, too: "Everything was beautiful,

and nothing hurt." He jumps in time to that night in the prison camp. Edgar

Derby has fallen asleep. Billy, doped up still from the morphine, wanders

out of the hospital shed. He snags himself on a barbed wire fence, and

cannot extract himself until a Russian helps him.

Billy never really says a word to the Russian. He wanders to the latrine,

where the Americans are sick from the feasting. A long period without food

followed by a feast almost always results in violent sickness. Among the

sick Americans is a soldier complaining that he has shit his brains out. It

is Vonnegut. Billy leaves, passing by three Englishmen who watch the

Americans' sickness with disgust. Billy jumps in time again, back to his

wedding night. He and his wife are cozy in bed. He jumps in time again, to

1944. It is before he left for Europe; he is riding the train from South

Carolina, where he was receiving his training, all the way back to Ilium

for his father's funeral.

We return to Billy's morphine night in the POW camp. Paul Lazarro is

carried into the hospital; while attempting to steal cigarettes from a

sleeping British officer, he was beaten up. The officer is the one carrying

him. Seeing now how puny Lazarro is, the officer feels guilty for hitting

him so hard. But he is disgusted by the American POWs. A German soldier who

adores the British officers comes in and apologizes for the inconvenience

of hosting the Americans. He assures the Brits in the room that the

Americans will soon be shipped off for forced labor in Dresden. The German

officer reads propaganda materials written by Howard Campbell, Jr., a

captured American who is now a Nazi. Campbell condemns the self-loathing of

the American poor, the inequalities of America's economic system, and the

miserable behavior of American POWs. Billy falls asleep and wakes up in

1968, where his daughter Barbara is scolding him. Barbara notices the house

is icy cold and goes to call the oil-burner man.

Billy leaps in time to the Trafalmadorian zoo, where Montana Wildhack, a

motion picture star, has been brought in to mate with him. Initially

unconscious, she wakes to find naked Billy and thousands of Trafalmadorians

outside their habitat. They're clapping. She screams. Eventually, though,

she comes to love and trust Billy. After a week they're sleeping together.

He travels in time back to his bed in 1968. The oil-burner man has fixed

the problem with the heater. Billy has just had a wet dream about Montana

Wildhack. The next day, he returns to work. His assistants are surprised to

see him, because they thought that he would never practice again. He has

the first patient sent in, a boy whose father died in Vietnam. Billy tries

to comfort the boy by telling him about the Trafalmadorian concept of time.

The boy's mother informs the receptionist that Billy is going crazy.

Barbara comes to take him home, sick with worry about what how to deal with


Chapter Six. Summary:

Billy wakes after his morphine night in POW camp irresistibly drawn to two

tiny treasures. They draw him like magnets; they are hidden in the lining

of his coat. It will be revealed later on exactly what they are. He goes

back to sleep, and wakes up to the sounds of the British building a new

latrine. They have abandoned their old latrine and their meeting hall to

the Americans. The man who beat up Lazarro stops by to make sure he is all

right, and Lazarro promises that he is going to have the man killed after

the war. After the amused Brit leaves, Lazarro tells Derby and Billy that

revenge is life's sweetest pleasure. He once brutally tortured a dog that

bit him. He is going to have all of his enemies killed after the war. He

tells Billy that Weary was his buddy, and he is going to avenge him by

having Billy shot after the war. Because of his time hopping, Billy knows

that this is true. He will be shot in 1976. At that time, the United States

has split into twenty tiny nations. Billy will be lecturing in Chicago on

the Trafalmadorian concept of time and the fourth dimension. He tells the

spectators that he is about to die, and urges them to accept it. After the

lecture, he is shot in the head by a high-powered laser gun.

Back in the POW camp, Billy, Derby, and Lazarro go the theater to elect a

leader. On the way over, they see a Brit drawing a line in the dirt to

separate the American and British sections of the compound. In the theater,

Americans are sleeping anywhere that they can. A Brit lectures them on

hygiene, and Edgar Derby is elected leader. Only two or three men actually

have the energy to vote. Billy dresses himself in a piece of azure curtain

and Cinderella's boots. The Americans ride the train to Dresden. Dresden is

a beautiful city, appearing on the horizon like something out of a fairy

tale. They are met by eight German irregulars, boys and old men who will be

in charge of them for the rest of the war. They march through town towards

their new home. The people of Dresden watch them, and most of them are

amused by Billy's outlandish costume. One surgeon is not. He scolds Billy

about dignity and representing his country and war not being a joke, but

Billy is honestly perplexed by the man's anger. He shows the man his two

treasures from the lining of his coat: a two-carat diamond and some false

teeth. The Americans are brought to their new home, a converted building

originally for the slaughter of pigs. The building has a large 5 on it. The

POWs are taught the German name for their new home, in case they get lost

in the city. In English, it is called Slaughterhouse Five.

Chapter Seven. Summary:

Billy is on a plane next to his father-in-law. Billy and a number of

optometrists have chartered a plane to go to a convention in Montreal.

There's a barbershop quartet on board. Billy's father-in-law loves it when

they sing songs mocking the Polish. Vonnegut mentions that in Germany Billy

saw a Pole getting executed for having sex with a German girl. Billy leaps

in time to his wandering behind the German lines with the two scouts and

Roland Weary. He leaps in time again to the plane crash. Everyone dies but

him. The plane has crashed in Vermont, and Billy is found by Austrian ski

instructors. When he hears them speaking German, he thinks he's back in the

war. He is unconscious for days, and during that time he dreams about the

days right before the bombing.

He remembers a boy named Werner Gluck, one of the guards. He was good-

natured, as awkward and puny as Billy. One day, Gluck and Billy and Derby

were looking for the kitchen. Derby and Billy were pulling a two-wheeled

cart; it was their duty to bring dinner back for the boys. Gluck pulled a

door open, thinking the kitchen might be there, and instead revealed naked

teenage girls showering, refugees from another city that was bombed. The

women scream and Gluck shuts the door. When they finally find the kitchen,

an old cook talks with the trio critically and proclaims that all the real

soldiers are dead. Billy also remembers working in the malt syrup factory

in Dresden. The syrup is for pregnant women, and it is fortified with

vitamins. The POWs do everything they can to sneak spoonfuls of it. Billy

sneaks a spoonful to Edgar Derby, who is outside. He bursts into tears

after he tastes it.

Chapter Eight. Summary:

Howard Campbell, Jr., the American-turned-Nazi propagandist, visits the

captives of Slaughterhouse Five. He wears an elaborate costume of his own

design, a cross between cowboy outfit and a Nazi uniform. The POWs are

tired and unhealthy, undernourished and overworked. Campbell offers them

good eating if they join his Free American Corps. The Corps is Campbell's

idea. Composed of Americans fighting for the Germans, they will be sent to

fight on the Russian front. After the war, they will be repatriated through

Switzerland. Campbell reasons that the Americans will have to fight the

Soviet Union sooner or later, and they might as well get it out of the way.

Edgar Derby rises for his finest moment. He denounces Campbell soundly,

praises American forms of government, and speaks of the brotherhood between

Russians and Americans. Air raid sirens sound, and everyone takes cover in

a meat locker. The firebombing will not occur until tomorrow night; these

sirens are only a false alarm. Billy dozes, and then leaps in time to an

argument with his daughter Barbara. She is worrying about what should be

done about Billy. She tells him that she feels like she could kill Kilgore


We move to Billy's first meeting with Trout, which happened in 1964. He is

out driving when he recognizes Trout from the jackets of his books. Trout's

books have never made money, so he works as a newspaper circulation man,

bullying and terrorizing newspaper delivery boys. One of Trout's boys

quits, and Billy offers to help Trout deliver the papers on the boy's

route. He gives Trout a ride. Trout is overwhelmed by meeting an avid fan.

He has only received one letter in the course of his career, and the letter

was crazed. It was written by none other than Billy's friend from the

mental ward, Elliot Rosewater. Billy invites Kilgore Trout to his

anniversary party.

At the party, Trout is obnoxious, but the optometrists and their spouses

are still enchanted by having an actual writer among them. A barbershop

quartet sings "That Old Gang of Mine," and Billy is visibly disturbed.

After giving Valencia her gift, he flees upstairs. Lying in bed, Billy

remembers the bombing of Dresden.

We see the events as Billy remembers them. He and the other POWs, along

with four of their guards, spend the night in the meat locker. The girls

from the shower were being killed in a shallower shelter nearby. The POWs

emerge at noon the next day into what looks like the surface of the moon.

The guards gape at the destruction. They look like a silent film of a

barbershop quartet.

We move to the Trafalmadorian Zoo. Montana Wildhack asked Billy to tell her

a story. He tells her about the burnt logs, actually corpses. He tells her

about the great monuments and buildings of the city turned into a flat,

lunar surface.

We move to Dresden. Without food or water, the POWs have to march to find

some if they are to survive. They make their way across the treacherous

landscape, much of it still hot, bits of crumbling. They are attacked by

American fighter planes. The end up in the suburbs, at an inn that has

prepared to receive any survivors. The innkeeper lets the Americans sleep

in the stable. He provides them with food and drink, and goes out to bid

them goodnight as they go to bed.

Chapter Nine. Summary:

When Billy is in the hospital in Vermont, Valencia goes crazy with grief.

Driving to the hospital, she gets in a terrible accident. She gears up her

car and continues driving to the hospital, determined to get there even

though she leaves her exhaust system behind. She pulls into the hospital

driveway and falls unconscious from carbon monoxide poisoning. An hour

later, she is dead.

Billy is oblivious, unconscious in his bed, dreaming and time traveling. In

the bed next to him is Bertram Copeland Ruumford, an arrogant retired

Brigadier General in the Air Force Reserve. He is a seventy-year-old

Harvard professor and the official historian of the Air Force, and he is in

superb physical condition. He has a twenty-three year-old high school

dropout with an IQ of 103. He is an arrogant jingoist. Currently he is

working on a history of the Air Corp in World War II. He has to write a

section on the success of the Dresden bombing. Ruumfoord's wife Lily is

scared of Billy, who mumbles deliriously. Ruumfoord is disgusted by him,

because all he does in his sleep in quit or surrender.

Barbara comes to visit Billy. She is in a horrible state, drugged up so she

can function after the recent tragedies. Billy cannot hear her. He is

remembering an eye exam he gave to a retarded boy a decade ago. Then he

leaps in time when he was sixteen years old. In the waiting room of a

doctor's office, he sees an old man troubled by horrible gas. Billy opens

his eyes and he is back in the hospital in Vermont. His son Robert, a

decorated Green Beret, is there. Billy closes his eyes again.

He misses Valencia's funeral because he is till too sick. People assume

that he is a vegetable, but actually he is thinking actively about

Trafalmadorians and the lectures he will deliver about time and the

permanence of moments. Overhearing Ruumford talk about Dresden, Billy

finally speaks up and tells Ruumford that he was at Dresden. Ruumford

ignores him, trying to convince himself and the doctors that Billy has

Echonalia, a condition where the sufferer simply repeats what he hears.

Billy leaps in time to May of 1945, two days after the end of the war in

Europe. In a coffin-shaped green wagon, Billy and five other Americans ride

with loot from the suburbs of Dresden. They found the wagon, attached to

two horses, and have been using it to carry things that they have taken.

The homes have been abandoned because the Russians are coming, and the

Americans have been looting. When they go to the slaughterhouse and the

other five Americans loot among the ruins, Billy naps in the wagon. He has

a cavalry pistol and a Luftwaffe ceremonial saber. He wakes; two Germans, a

husband-and-wife pair of obstetricians, are angry about how the Americans

have treated the horses. The horses' hooves are shattered, their mouths are

bleeding from the bits, and they are extremely thirsty. Billy goes around

to look at the horses, and he bursts into tears. It is the only time he

cries in the whole war. Vonnegut reminds the reader of the epigraph at the

start of the book, an excerpt from a Christmas carol that describes the

baby Jesus as not crying. Billy cries very little.

He leaps in time back to the hospital in Vermont, where Ruumford is finally

questioning Billy about Dresden. Barbara takes Billy home later that day.

Billy is watched by a nurse; he is supposed to be under observation, but he

escapes to New York City and gets a hotel room. He plans to tell the world

about the Trafalmadorians and their concept of time. The next day, Billy

goes into a bookstore that sells pornography, peep shows, and Kilgore Trout

novels. Billy is only interested in Kilgore Trout novels. In one of the

pornographic magazines, there is an article about the disappearance of porn

star Montana Wildhack. Later, Billy sneaks onto a radio talk show by posing

as a literary critic. The critics take turns discussing the novel, but when

Billy gets his turn he talks about Trafalmadore. At the next commercial

break, he is made to leave. When he goes back to his hotel room and lies

down, he travels back in time to Trafalmadore. Montana is nursing their

child. She wears a locket with a picture of her mother and the same prayer

that Billy had on his office wall in Ilium.

Chapter Ten. Summary:

Vonnegut tells us that Robert Kennedy died last night. Martin Luther King,

Jr., was assassinated a month ago. Body counts are reported every night on

the news as signs that the war in Vietnam is being won. Vonnegut's father

died years ago of natural causes. He left Billy all of his guns, which

rust. Billy claims that on Trafalmadore the aliens are more interested in

Darwin than Jesus. Darwin, says Vonnegut, taught that death was the means

to progress. Vonnegut recalls the pleasant trip he made to Dresden with his

old war buddy, O'Hare. They were looking up facts about Dresden in a little

book when O'Hare came across a passage on the exploding world population.

By 2000, the book predicts, the world will have a population of 7 billion

people. Vonnegut says that he supposes they will all want dignity.

Billy Pilgrim travels back in time to 1945, two days after the bombing of

Dresden. German authorities find the POWs in the innkeeper's stable. Along

with other POWs, they are brought back to Dresden to dig for bodies. Bodies

are trapped in protected pockets under the rubble, and the POWs are put to

work bringing them up. But after one of the workers is lowered into a

pocket and dies of the dry heaves, the Germans settle on incinerating the

bodies instead of retrieving them. During this time, Edgar Derby is caught

with a teapot he took from the ruins. He is tried and executed by a firing


Then the POWs were returned to the stable. The German soldiers went off to

fight the Soviets. Spring comes, and one day in May the war is over. Billy

and the other men go outside into the abandoned suburbs. They find a horse-

drawn wagon, the wagon green and shaped like a coffin. The birds sing, "Po-


The Sound and the Fury

Summary of April Seventh, 1928:

This section of the book is commonly referred to as "Benjy's section"

because it is narrated by the retarded youngest son of the Compson family,

Benjamin Compson. At this point in the story, Benjy is 33 years old - in

fact, today is his birthday - but the story skips back and forth in time as

various events trigger memories. When the reader first plunges into this

narrative, the jumps in time are difficult to navigate or understand,

although many scenes are marked by recurring images, sounds, or words. In

addition, a sort of chronology can be established depending on who is

Benjy's caretaker: first Versh when Benjy is a child, then T. P. when he is

an adolescent, then Luster when he is an adult. One other fact that may

confuse first-time readers is the repetition of names. There are, for

example, two Jasons (father and son), two Quentins (Benjy's brother and

Caddy's daughter), and two Mauries (Benjy himself before 1900 and Benjy's

uncle). Benjy recalls three important events: the evening of his

grandmother "Damuddy's" death in 1898, his name change in 1900, and Caddy's

sexual promiscuity and wedding in 1910, although these events are

punctuated by other memories, including the delivery of a letter to his

uncle's mistress in 1902 or 1903, Caddy's wearing perfume in 1906, a

sequence of events at the gate of the house in 1910 and 1911 that

culminates in his castration, Quentin's death in 1910, his father's death

and funeral in 1912, and Roskus's death some time after this. I will

summarize each event briefly.

The events of the present day (4/7/28) center around Luster's search for a

quarter he has lost somewhere on the property. He received this quarter

from his grandmother Dilsey in order to go to the circus that evening.

Luster takes Benjy with him as he searches by the golf course that used to

be the Compson's pasture, by the carriage house, down by the branch of the

Yoknapatawpha River, and finally near Benjy's "graveyard" of jimson flowers

in a bottle.

As the story opens, Benjy and Luster are by the golf course, where the

golfers' cries of "caddie" cause Benjy to "beller" because he mistakes

their cries for his missing sister Caddy's name. In the branch, Luster

finds a golfer's ball, which he later tries to sell to the golfers; they

accuse him of stealing it and take it from him. Luster tries to steer Benjy

away from the swing, where Miss Quentin and her "beau" (one of the

musicians from the circus) are sitting, but is unsuccessful. Quentin is

furious and runs into the house, while her friend jokes with Luster and

asks him who visits Quentin. Luster replies that there are too many male

visitors to distinguish.

Luster takes Benjy past the fence, where Benjy sees schoolgirls passing

with their satchels. Benjy moans whenever Luster tries to break from the

routine path Benjy is used to. At Benjy's "graveyard," Luster disturbs the

arrangement of flowers in the blue bottle, causing Benjy to cry. At this

Luster becomes frustrated and says "beller. You want something to beller

about. All right, then. Caddy. . . . Caddy. Beller now. Caddy" (55).

Benjy's crying summons Dilsey, Luster's grandmother, who scolds him for

making Benjy cry and for disturbing Quentin. They go in the kitchen, where

Dilsey opens the oven door so Benjy can watch the fire. Dilsey has bought

Benjy a birthday cake, and Luster blows out the candles, making Benjy cry

again. Luster teases him by closing the oven door so that the fire "goes

away." Dilsey scolds Luster again. Benjy is burned when he tries to touch

the fire. His cries disturb his mother, who comes to the kitchen and

reprimands Dilsey. Dilsey gives him an old slipper to hold, an object that

he loves.

Luster takes Benjy to the library, where his cries disturb Jason, who comes

to the door and yells at Luster. Luster asks Jason for a quarter. At

dinner, Jason interrogates Quentin about the man she was with that

afternoon and threatens to send Benjy to an asylum in Jackson. Quentin

threatens to run away, and she and Jason fight. She runs out of the room.

Benjy goes to the library, where Luster finds him and shows him that

Quentin has given him a quarter. Luster dresses Benjy for bed; when Benjy's

pants are off he looks down and cries when he is reminded of his

castration. Luster puts on his nightgown and the two of them watch as

Quentin climbs out her window and down a tree. Luster puts Benjy to bed.

Benjy's memories, in chronological order:

Damuddy's death, 1898: Benjy is three years old and his name at this point

is still Maury. Caddy is seven, Quentin is older (nine?) and Jason is

between seven and three.

The four children are playing in the branch of the river. Roskus calls them

to supper, but Caddy refuses to come. She squats down in the river and gets

her dress wet; Versh tells her that her mother will whip her for that.

Caddy asks Versh to help her take her dress off, and Quentin warns him not

to. Caddy takes off her dress and Quentin hits her. The two of them fight

in the branch and get muddy. Caddy says that she will run away, which makes

Maury/Benjy cry; she immediately takes it back. Roskus asks Versh to bring

the children to the house, and Versh puts Caddy's dress back on her.

They head up to the house, but Quentin stays behind, throwing rocks into

the river. The children notice that all the lights are on in the house and

assume that their parents are having a party. Father tells the children to

be quiet and to eat dinner in the kitchen; he won't tell them why they have

to be quiet. Caddy asks him to tell the other children to mind her for the

evening, and he does. The children hear their mother crying, which makes

Maury/Benjy cry. Quentin is also agitated by her crying, but Caddy

reassures him that she is just singing. Jason too begins to cry.

The children go outside and down to the servants' quarters, where Frony and

T. P. (who are children at this point) have a jar of lightning bugs. Frony

asks about the funeral, and Versh scolds her for mentioning it. The

children discuss the only death they know - when their mare Nancy died and

the buzzards "undressed her" in a ditch. Caddy asks T. P. to give

Maury/Benjy his jar of lightning bugs to hold. The children go back up to

the house and stop outside the parlor window. Caddy climbs up a tree to see

in the window, and the children watch her muddy drawers as she climbs.

Dilsey comes out of the house and yells at them. Caddy tells the others

that their parents were not doing anything inside, although she may be

trying to protect them from the truth. The children go inside and upstairs.

Father comes to help tuck them into bed in a strange room. Dilsey dresses

them and tucks them in, and they go to sleep.

Benjy's name change, 1900: Benjy is five years old, Caddy is nine, etc.

Benjy is sitting by the library fire and watching it. Dilsey and Caddy

discuss Benjy's new name; Dilsey wants to know why his parents have changed

it, and Caddy replies that mother said Benjamin was a better name for him

than Maury was. Dilsey says that "folks don't have no luck, changing names"

(58). Caddy brings Benjy to where her mother is lying in the bedroom with a

cloth on her head, to say good night. Benjy can hear the clock ticking and

the rain falling on the roof. Mother chides Caddy not to carry him because

he is too heavy and will ruin her posture. She holds Benjy's face in her

hands and repeats "Benjamin" over and over. Benjy cries until Caddy holds

his favorite cushion over his mother's head.

She leads him to the fire so that he can watch it. Father picks him up,

and he watches the reflection of Caddy and Jason fighting in the library

mirror. Father puts him down and breaks up Caddy and Jason, who are

fighting because Jason cut up all of Benjy's paper dolls. Father takes

Jason to the room next door and spanks him. They all sit by the fire, and

Benjy holds his cushion. Quentin comes and sits next to them. He has been

in a fight at school and has a bruise. Father asks him about it. Versh sits

next to them and tells them a story about a "bluegum" he knows who changed

his name too. Father tells him to be quiet. Caddy and Versh feed Benjy his

dinner, and the four children sit in father's lap. Benjy says that Caddy

and Quentin smell like trees and rain.

Versh, Caddy and Benjy go outside, December 23, 1902: Benjy is seven years

old and Caddy is eleven.

Benjy is crying because he wants to go outside. Mother says it is too cold

for him and he will freeze his hands. She says that if he won't be quiet he

will have to go to the kitchen. Versh replies that Dilsey wants him out of

the kitchen because she has a lot of cooking to do, and Uncle Maury tells

her to let him go outside. Versh puts on his coat and they go outside;

Versh tells him to keep his hands in his pockets. Caddy comes through the

gate, home from school. She takes his hands and they run through the fallen

leaves into the house. Caddy puts him by the fire, and Versh starts to take

his coat off, but Caddy asks if she can take him outside again. Versh puts

on his overshoes again, and mother takes his face in her hands and calls

him "my poor baby," but Caddy kneels by him and tells him that he is not a

poor baby at all because he has her. Benjy notices that she smells like


Caddy and Benjy deliver Uncle Maury's letter to Mrs. Patterson, December

25, 1902.

Caddy and Benjy cross the yard by the barn, where the servants are killing

a pig for dinner. Caddy tells Benjy to keep his hands in his pockets and

lets him hold the letter. She wonders why Uncle Maury did not send Versh

with the letter. They cross the frozen branch and come to the Patterson's

fence. Caddy takes the letter and climbs the fence to deliver it. Mrs.

Patterson comes out of the house.

Benjy delivers a letter to Mrs. Patterson alone, spring 1903: Benjy is

eight years old.

Benjy is at the Patterson's fence. Mr. Patterson is in the garden cutting

flowers. Mrs. Patterson runs from the house to the fence, and Benjy cries

when he sees her angry eyes. She says that she told Maury not to send Benjy

alone again, and asks Benjy to give her the letter. Mr. Patterson comes

running, climbs the fence and takes the letter. Benjy runs away.

Caddy wears perfume, 1906: Benjy is ten years old and Caddy is fourteen.

Caddy tries to hug Benjy but he cries and pushes her away. Jason says that

he must not like her "prissy dress," and says that she thinks she is all

grown up just because she is fourteen. Caddy tries to hush Benjy, but he

disturbs their mother, who calls them to her room. Mother tells Caddy to

give Benjy his box full of cut-out stars. Caddy walks to the bathroom and

washes the perfume off. Benjy goes to the door. Caddy opens the door and

hugs him; she smells like trees again. They go into Caddy's room and she

sits at her mirror. Benjy starts to cry again. She gives him the bottle of

perfume to smell and he runs away, crying. She realizes what made him cry

and tells him she will never wear it again. They go to the kitchen, and

Caddy tells Dilsey that the perfume is a present from Benjy to her. Dilsey

takes the bottle, and Caddy says that "we don't like perfume ourselves"


Caddy in the swing, 1907?: Benjy is eleven or twelve and Caddy is fifteen

or sixteen.

Benjy is out in the yard at night. T. P. calls for him through the window.

He watches the swing, where there are "two now, then one in the swing"

(47). Caddy comes running to him, asking how he got out. She calls for T.

P. Benjy cries and pulls at her dress. Charlie, the boy she is with on the

swing, comes over and asks where T. P. is. Benjy cries and she tells

Charlie to go away. He goes, and she calls for T. P. again. Charlie comes

back and puts his hands on Caddy. She tells him to stop, because Benjy can

see, but he doesn't. She says she has to take Benjy to the house. She takes

his hand and they run to the house and up the porch steps. She hugs him,

and they go inside. Charlie is calling her, but she goes to the kitchen

sink and scrubs her mouth with soap. Benjy sees that she smells like trees


Benjy sleeps alone for the first time, 1908: Benjy is thirteen years old.

Dilsey tells Benjy that he is too old to sleep with anyone else, and that

he will sleep in Uncle Maury's room. Uncle Maury has a black eye and a

swollen mouth, and Father says that he is going to shoot Mr. Patterson.

Mother scolds him and father apologizes. He is drunk.

Dilsey puts Benjy to bed alone, but he cries, and Dilsey comes back. Then

Caddy comes in and lies in the bed with him. She smells like trees. Dilsey

says she will leave the light on in Caddy's room so she can go back there

after Benjy has fallen asleep.

Caddy loses her virginity, 1909: Benjy is fourteen years old and Caddy is


Caddy walks quickly past the door where mother, father, and Benjy are.

Mother calls her in, and she comes to the door. She glances at Benjy, then

glances away. He begins to cry. He goes to her and pulls at her dress,

crying. She is against the wall, and she starts to cry. He chases her up

the stairs, crying. She stops with her back against the wall, crying, and

looks at him with her hand on her mouth. Benjy pushes her into the


Caddy's wedding, 1910: Benjy is fifteen years old and Caddy is nineteen.

Benjy, Quentin, and T. P. are outside the barn, and T. P. has given Benjy

some sarsaparilla to drink; they are both drunk. Quentin pushes T. P. into

the pig trough. They fight, and T. P. pushes Benjy into the trough. Quentin

beats T. P., who can't stop laughing. He keeps saying "whooey!". Versh

comes and yells at T. P. Quentin gives Benjy some more sarsaparilla to

drink, and he cries. T. P. takes him to the cellar, and then goes to a tree

outside the parlor. T. P. drinks some more. He gets a box for Benjy to

stand on so he can see into the parlor. Through the window, Benjy can see

Caddy in her wedding veil, and he cries out, trying to call to her. T. P.

tries to quiet him. Benjy falls down and hits his head on the box. T. P.

drags him to the cellar to get more sarsaparilla, and they fall down the

stairs into the cellar. They climb up the stairs and fall against the fence

and the box. Benjy is crying loudly, and Caddy comes running. Quentin also

comes and begins kicking T. P. Caddy hugs Benjy, but she doesn't smell like

trees any more, and Benjy begins to cry.

Benjy at the gate crying, 1910.

Benjy is in the house looking at the gate and crying, and T. P. tells him

that no matter how hard he cries, Caddy is not coming back.

Later, Benjy stands at the gate crying, and watches some schoolgirls pass

by with their satchels. Benjy howls at them, trying to speak, and they run

by. Benjy runs along the inside of the fence next to them to the end of his

yard. T. P. comes to get him and scolds him for scaring the girls.

Quentin's death, 1910.

Benjy is lying in T. P.'s bed at the servants' quarters, where T. P. is

throwing sticks into a fire. Dilsey and Roskus discuss Quentin's death

without mentioning his name or Caddy's name. Roskus talks about the curse

on the family, saying "aint the sign of it laying right there on that bed.

Aint the sign of it been here for folks to see fifteen years now" (29).

Dilsey tells him to be quiet, but he continues, saying that there have been

two signs now (Benjy's retardation and Quentin's death), and that there

would be one more. Dilsey warns him not to mention Caddy's name. He replies

that "they aint no luck on this place" (29). Dilsey tucks Benjy into T.

P.'s bed and pulls the covers up.

Benjy attacks a girl outside the gate and is castrated, 1911: Benjy is

sixteen years old.

Benjy is standing at the gate crying, and the schoolgirls come by. They

tell each other that he just runs along the inside of the fence and can't

catch them. He unlatches the gate and chases them, trying to talk to them.

They scream and run away. He catches one girl and tries to talk to her,

perhaps tries to rape her.

Later, father talks about how angry Mr. Burgess (her father) is, and wants

to know how Benjy got outside the gate. Jason says that he bets father will

have to send Benjy to the asylum in Jackson now, and father tells him to


Mr. Compson's death, 1912: Benjy is seventeen.

Benjy wakes up and T. P. brings him into the kitchen where Dilsey is

singing. She stops singing when Benjy begins to cry. She tells T. P. to

take him outside, and they go to the branch and down by the barn. Roskus is

in the barn milking a cow, and he tells T. P. to finish milking for him

because he can't use his right hand any more. He says again that there is

no luck on this place.

Later that day, Dilsey tells T. P. to take Benjy and the baby girl Quentin

down to the servants' quarters to play with Luster, who is still a child.

Frony scolds Benjy for taking a toy away from Quentin, and brings them up

to the barn. Roskus is watching T. P. milk a cow.

Later, T. P. and Benjy are down by the ditch where Nancy's bones are. Benjy

can smell father's death. T. P. takes Benjy and Quentin to his house, where

Roskus is sitting next to the fire. He says "that's three, thank the Lawd .

. . I told you two years ago. They aint no luck on this place" (31). He

comments on the bad luck of never mentioning a child's mother's name and

bringing up a child never to know its mother. Dilsey shushes him, asking

him if he wants to make Benjy cry again. Dilsey puts him to bed in Luster's

bed, laying a piece of wood between him and Luster.

Mr. Compson's funeral, 1912.

Benjy and T. P. wait at the corner of the house and watch Mr. Compson's

casket carried by. Benjy can see his father lying there through the glass

in the casket.

Trip to the cemetery, 1912.

Benjy waits for his mother to get into the carriage. She comes out and asks

where Roskus is. Dilsey says that he can't move his arms today, so T. P.

will drive them. Mother says she is afraid to let T. P. drive, but she gets

in the carriage anyway. Mother says that maybe it would be for the best if

she and Benjy were killed in an accident, and Dilsey tells her not to talk

that way. Benjy begins to cry and Dilsey gives him a flower to hold. They

begin to drive, and mother says she is afraid to leave the baby Quentin at

home. She asks T. P. to turn the carriage around. He does, and it tips

precariously but doesn't topple. They return to the house, where Jason is

standing outside with a pencil behind his ear. Mother tells him that they

are going to the cemetery, and he asks her if that was all she came back to

tell him. She says she would feel safer if he came, and he tells her that

Father and Quentin won't hurt her. This makes her cry, and Jason tells her

to stop. Jason tells T. P. to drive, and they take off again.

Roskus's death, later 1920s: Luster is old enough to take care of Benjy by


Dilsey is "moaning" at the servants' quarters. Benjy begins to cry and the

dog begins to howl, and Dilsey stops moaning. Frony tells Luster to take

them down to the barn, but Luster says he won't go down there for fear he

will see Roskus's ghost like he did last night, waving his arms.

Analysis of April 7, 1928:

The title of this novel comes from Shakespeare's Macbeth, Act five, scene

five, in Macbeth's famous speech about the meaninglessness of life. He

states that it is "a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, /

signifying nothing." One could argue that Benjy is the "idiot" referred to

in this speech, for indeed his section seems, at first reading, to "signify

nothing." No one vignette in his narrative seems to be particularly

important, much of it detailing the minutiae of his daily routine. His

speech itself, the "bellering" with which me makes himself heard, does, in

fact, "signify nothing," since he is unable to express himself even when he

wants to in a way other than howling. However, Benjy Compson is not merely

an idiot, and his section is much more meaningful than it first seems.

When discussing Mr. Compson's death, Roskus states that Benjy "know a lot

more than folks thinks" (31), and in fact, for all his idiocy, Benjy does

sense when things are wrong with his self-contained world, especially when

they concern his sister Caddy. Like an animal, Benjy can "smell" when Caddy

has changed; when she wears perfume, he states that she no longer smells

"like trees," and the servants claim that he can smell death. He can also

sense somehow when Caddy has lost her virginity; she has changed to him.

From the time she loses her virginity on, she no longer smells like trees

to him. Although his section at first presents itself as an objective

snapshot of a retarded boy's perceptions of the world, it is more ordered

and more intelligent than that.

Most of the memories Benjy relates in his section have to do with Caddy,

and specifically with moments of loss related to Caddy. The first memory of

Damuddy's death, for example, marks a change in his family structure and a

change in his brother Jason, who was the closest to Damuddy and slept in

her room. His many memories of Caddy are mostly concerned with her

sexuality, a fact that changes her relationship with him and eventually

removes her from his life. His later memories are also associated with some

sort of loss: the loss of his pasture, of his father, and the loss

associated with his castration. Critics have pointed out that Benjy's

narrative is "timeless," that he cannot distinguish between present and

past and therefore relives his memories as they occur to him. If this is

the case, he is caught in a process of constantly regenerating his sister

in memory and losing her simultaneously, of creating and losing at the same

time. His life is a constant cycle of loss and degenerative change.

If Benjy is trapped in a constantly replaying succession of losses, the

objects that he fixates on seem to echo this state. He loves fire, for

instance, and often stares into the "bright shapes" of the fire while the

world revolves around him. The word "fire" is mentioned numerous times in

the memory of his name change. Caddy and the servants know that he stops

crying when he looks at the fire, which is the reason in the present day

that Luster makes a fire in the library even though one is not needed.

The fire is a symbolic object; it is conventionally associated with the

contrast between light and dark, heat and cold. It is a comfort, not merely

to Benjy because of the pleasure he receives in watching it, but because it

is associated with the hearth, the center of the home. As critics have

pointed out, it is often Caddy who places Benjy in front of the fire: "she

led me to the fire and I looked at the bright, smooth shapes" (64). The

fire is therefore tied in Benjy's mind with the idea of Caddy; both are

warm and comforting forces within a cold family. But unlike Caddy, the fire

is unchanging; there will always be a fire, even after she leaves him. The

fact that Benjy burns himself on the kitchen stove after Luster closes the

oven door reveals the pain - both physical and mental - that Benjy

associates with Caddy's absence.

Another object that provides comfort to Benjy is the library mirror. Like

the fire, the mirror plays a large part in the memory of his name change,

as Benjy watches the various members of his family move in and out of the

mirror: "Caddy and Jason were fighting in the mirror . we could see Caddy

fighting in the mirror and Father put me down and went into the mirror and

fought too . He rolled into the corner, out of the mirror. Father brought

Caddy to the fire. They were all out of the mirror" (64-65). The mirror is

a frame of reference through which Benjy sees the world; people are either

in or out of the mirror, and he does not understand the concept of

reflection. Like the mirror, Benjy's section of the book provides readers

with a similar exact reflection of the world that Benjy sees, framed by his

memories. Characters slide in and out of the mirror of his perception,

their conversations and actions accurately reported but somewhat distorted

in the process.

As the "tale told by an idiot," Benjy's section makes up the center kernel

of the story of the Compson family tragedy. And the scene of Damuddy's

death in many ways makes up the center around which this section and the

entire story revolve. Faulkner has said that the story grew out of the

image of a little girl's muddy drawers as she climbs a tree to look into

the parlor windows at the funeral taking place. From this image a story

evolved, a story "without plot, of some children being sent away from the

house during the grandmother's funeral. There were too young to be told

what was going on and they saw things only incidentally to the childish

games they were playing" (Millgate, 96). This original story was entitled

"Twilight," and the story grew into a novel because Faulkner fell in love

with the character of this little girl to such an extent that he strove to

tell her story from four different viewpoints.

If this one scene is the center of the story, it is also a microcosm of the

events to follow. The interactions of the children in this scene prefigure

their relations in the future and in fact the entire future of the Compson

family. Thus Caddy's soaking her dress in the water of the branch is a

metaphor for the sexual fall that will torment Quentin and ruin the family:

She was wet. We were playing in the branch and Caddy squatted down and got

her dress wet and Versh said, "Your mommer going to whip you for getting

your dress wet."

"It's not wet." Caddy said. She stood up in the water and looked at her

dress. "I'll take it off." she said. "Then it'll be dry."

"I bet you won't." Quentin said.

"I bet I will." Caddy said.

"I bet you better not." Quentin said.

"You just take your dress off," Quentin said. Caddy took her dress off and

threw it on the bank. Then she didn't have on anything but her bodice and

drawers, and Quentin slapped her and she slipped and fell down in the water


Caddy sullies her garments in an act that prefigures her later sexuality.

She then takes off her dress, a further sexual metaphor, causing Quentin to

become enraged and slap her. Just as the loss of her virginity upsets

Quentin to the point of suicide, his angry and embarrassed reaction to

taking off her dress here reveals the jealous protectiveness he feels for

her sexuality. Benjy, too, is traumatized by the muddying of Caddy's dress:

"Caddy was all wet and muddy behind, and I started to cry and she came and

squatted in the water" (19). Just as her sexuality will cause his world to

crack later on, her muddy dress here causes him to cry.

Jason, too, is a miniature version of what he will become in this scene.

While Caddy and Quentin fight in the branch, Jason stands "by himself

further down the branch," prefiguring the isolation from the rest of his

family that will characterize his later existence (19). Although the other

children ask him not to tell their father that they have been playing in

the branch, the first thing he does when he sees father is tattle. He is as

perverse and mean here as he is sadistic in the third section of the book.

His reaction to Damuddy's death, too, is a miniature for the way he will

deal with the loss that he sees in Caddy's betrayal of the family later on:

"Do you think the buzzards are going to undress Damuddy." Caddy said.

"You're crazy."

"You're a skizzard." Jason said. He began to cry.

"You're a knobnot." Caddy said. Jason cried. His hands were in his pockets.

"Jason going to be rich man." Versh said. "He holding his money all the

time" (35-36).

Here Jason cries over the loss of Damuddy with his hands in his pockets,

"holding his money," just as later he will sublimate his anger at Caddy's

absence by becoming a miserly workaholic and embezzling thousands of

dollars from Quentin and his mother.

The scene ends with the image of Caddy's muddy drawers as she climbs the

tree: "We watched the muddy bottom of her drawers. Then we couldn't see

her. We could hear the tree thrashing . . . . the tree quit thrashing. We

looked up into the still branches" (39). This image of Caddy's muddy

undergarments disappearing into the branches of the tree, the scene that

prompted Faulkner to write the entire novel, is, as critic John T. Matthews

points out, an image of Caddy disappearing, just as she will disappear from

the lives of her three brothers:

What the novel has made, it has also lost . . . . [Caddy] is memorable

precisely because she inhabits the memories of her brothers and the novel,

and memory for Faulkner never transcends the sense of loss . . . . Caught

in Faulkner's mind as she climbs out of the book, Caddy is the figure that

the novel is written to lose (Matthews, 2-3). Thus the seminal scene in

this section of the story is that of the sullied Caddy, "climbing out of"

Benjy's life.

The scene of Damuddy's death is not the only part of this section that

forecasts the future. Like a Greek tragedy, this section is imbued with a

sense of impending disaster, and in fact the events of the present day

chronicle a family that has fallen into decay. For Benjy, the dissolution

of the life he knows is wrapped up in Caddy and her sexuality, which

eventually leads her to desert him. For his mother and the servants, the

family's demise is a fate that cannot be avoided, of which Benjy's idiocy

and Quentin's death are signs. This is what prompts Roskus to repeatedly

vow that "they aint no luck on this place," and what causes mother to

perform the almost ritualistic ablution of changing Benjy's name. It is as

if changing his name from Maury, the name of a Bascomb, will somehow avert

the disastrous fate that the Compson blood seems to bring. This

overwhelming sense of an inescapable family curse will resurface many times

throughout the book.

Summary of June Second, 1910:

This section of the book details the events of the day of Quentin's

suicide, from the moment he wakes in the morning until he leaves his room

that night, headed to the river to drown himself. Like Benjy's section,

this section is narrated in stream of consciousness, sliding constantly

between modern-day events and memories; however, Quentin's section is not

as disjointed at Benjy's, regardless of his agitated mental state. As with

Benjy, most of the memories he relates are centered on Caddy and her

precocious sexuality.

The present day:

Quentin wakes in his Harvard dorm room to the sound of his watch ticking:

"when the shadow of the sash appeared on the curtain it was between seven

and eight oclock and then I was in time again, hearing the watch" (76).

This is the watch his father gave him when he came to Harvard. He tries to

ignore the sound, but the more he tries, the louder it seems. He turns the

watch over and returns to bed, but the ticking goes on. His roommate Shreve

appears in the doorway and asks him if he is going to chapel, then runs out

the door to avoid being late himself. Quentin watches his friends running

to chapel out the window of his dorm room, then listens to the school's

bell chiming the hour (8:00 a.m.).

He goes to the dresser and picks up his watch, tapping it against the side

of the dresser to break the glass. He twists the hands of the watch off,

but the watch keeps ticking. He notices that he cut himself in the process

and meticulously cleans his wound with iodine. He painstakingly packs up

all his clothes except two suits, two pairs of shoes, and two hats, then

locks his trunk and piles his schoolbooks on the sitting-room table, as the

quarter-hour bell chimes.

He bathes and puts on a new suit and his (now broken) watch, puts his trunk

key into an envelope addressed to his father, then writes two noes and

seals them. He goes out the door, bumping into his returning roommate on

the way, who asks him why he is all dressed up. The half-hour chimes and

Quentin walks into Harvard Square, to the post office. He buys stamps and

mails one letter to his father and keeps one for Shreve in his coat pocket.

He is looking for his friend "the Deacon," an eccentric black man who

befriends all the Southern students at Harvard. He goes out to breakfast;

while he is eating he hears the clock strike the hour (10:00 a.m.).

Quentin continues to walk around the square, trying to avoid looking at

clocks, but finds it impossible to escape time like that. He eventually

walks into a jeweler's and asks him about fixing his watch. He asks if any

of the watches in the window is right, and stops the jeweler before he can

tell him what time it is. The jeweler says that he will fix his watch this

afternoon, but Quentin takes it back and says he will get it fixed later.

Walking back out into the street, he buys two six-pound flat-irons; he

chooses them because they are "heavy enough" but will look like a pair of

shoes when they are wrapped up and he is carrying them around the Square


He takes a fruitless cable car ride, then gets off the car on a bridge,

where he watches one of his friends rowing on the river. He walks back to

the Square as the bell chimes the quarter hour (11:15), and he meets up

with the Deacon and gives him the letter he has written to Shreve, asking

him to deliver it tomorrow. He tells the Deacon that when he delivers the

letter tomorrow Shreve will have a present for him. As the bell chimes the

half-hour, he runs into Shreve, who tells him a letter arrived for him this

morning. Then he gets on another car as the bells chime 11:45.

When he gets off the car he is near a run-down town on the Charles River,

and he walks along the river until he comes across three boys fishing on a

bridge over the river; he hides the flat irons under the edge of the bridge

before striking up a conversation with the boys. They notice that he has a

strange accent and ask if he is from Canada; he asks them if there are any

factories in town (factories would have hourly whistles). He walks on

toward the town, although he is anxious to keep far enough away from the

church steeple's clock to render its face unreadable. Finally he arrives in

town and walks into a bakery; there is nobody behind the counter, but there

is a little Italian immigrant girl standing before it. A woman enters

behind the counter and Quentin buys two buns. He tells the proprietress

that the little girl would like something too; the proprietress eyes the

girl suspiciously and accuses her of stealing something.

Quentin defends her and she extends her hand to reveal a nickel. The woman

wraps up a five-cent loaf of bread for the girl, and Quentin puts some

money on the counter and buys another bun as well. The woman asks him if he

is going to give the bun to the girl, and he says he is. Still acting

exasperated, she goes into a back room and comes out with a misshapen cake;

she gives it to the girl, telling her it won't taste any different than a

good cake. The girl follows Quentin out of the store, and he takes her to a

drugstore and buys her some ice cream. They leave the drugstore and he

gives her one of the buns and says goodbye, but she continues to follow

him. Not knowing exactly what to do, he walks with her toward the immigrant

neighborhood across the train tracks where he assumes she lives. She will

not talk to him or indicate where she lives. He asks some men in front of a

store if they know her, and they do, but they don't know where she lives

either. They tell him to take her to the town marshal's office, but when he

does the marshal isn't there.

Quentin decides to take her down to her neighborhood and hopefully someone

will claim her. At one point she seems to tell him that a certain house is

hers, but the woman inside doesn't know her. They continue to walk through

the neighborhood until they come out on the other side, by the river.

Quentin gives a coin to the girl, then runs away from her along the river.

He walks along the river for a while, then suddenly meets up with the

little girl again. They walk along together for a while, still looking for

her house; eventually they turn back and walk toward town again. They come

across some boys swimming, and the boys throw water at them. The hurry

toward town, but the girl still won't tell him where she lives.

Suddenly a man flies at them and attacks Quentin; he is the little girl's

brother. He has the town marshal with him, and they take him into town to

talk to the police because they think he was trying to kidnap the girl. In

town they meet up with Shreve, Spoade and Gerald, Quentin's friends, who

have come into town in Gerald's mother's car. Eventually after discussing

everything at length, the marshal lets Quentin go, and he gets into the car

with his friends and drives away.

As they drive Quentin slides into a kind of trance wherein he remembers

various events from his past, mostly to do with her precocious sexuality

(to be discussed later). While his is lost in this reverie the boys and

Gerald's mother have gotten out of the car and set up a picnic. Suddenly he

comes to, bleeding, and the boys tell him that he just suddenly began

punching Gerald and Gerald beat him up. They tell him that he began

shouting "did you ever have a sister? Did you?" then attacked Gerald out of

the blue. Quentin is more concerned about the state of his clothes than

anything else. His friends want to take the cable car back to Boston

without Gerald, but Quentin tells them he doesn't want to go back. They ask

him what he plans to do (perhaps they suspect something about his suicidal

plans). They go back to the party, and Quentin walks slowly toward the city

as the twilight descends.

Eventually Quentin gets on a cable car. Although it is dark by now, he can

smell the water of the river as they pass by it. As they pass the Harvard

Square post office again, he hears the clock chiming but has no idea what

time it is. He plans to return to the bridge where he left his flatirons,

but he has to wash his clothes first in order to carry out his plans

correctly. He returns to his dorm room and takes off his clothes,

meticulously washing the blood off his vest with gasoline. The bell chimes

the half-hour as he does so. Back in his darkened room, he looks out the

window for a while, then as the last chime of the three-quarters hour

sounds, he puts his clothes and vest back on. He walks into Shreve's room

and puts a letter and his watch in the desk drawer. He remembers that he

hasn't brushed his teeth, so he goes back into his room and takes the

toothbrush out of his bag. He brushes his teeth and returns the brush to

the bag, then goes to the door. He returns for his hat, then leaves the


Quentin's memories:

Quentin's memories are not as clearly defined or as chronologically

discernible as Benjy's. There are three important memories that obsess him.

Benjy's name change, 1900: Dilsey claims that Benjy can "smell what you

tell him;" Roskus asks if he can smell bad luck, sure that the only reason

they changed his name is to try to help his luck.

Quentin kisses Natalie, undated: Natalie, a neighbor girl, and Quentin are

in the barn and it is raining outside. Natalie is hurt; Caddy pushed her

down the ladder and ran off. Quentin asks her where it hurts and says that

he bets he can lift her up. [a skip in time] Natalie tells him that

something [probably kissing] is "like dancing sitting down" (135); Quentin

asks her how he should hold her to dance, placing his arms around her, and

she moans. Quentin looks up to see Caddy in the door watching them. Quentin

tells her that he and Natalie were just dancing sitting down; she ignores


She and Natalie fight about the events that led to Natalie being pushed off

the ladder and whose fault it was; Caddy claims that she was "just brushing

the trash off the back of your dress" (136). Natalie leaves and Quentin

jumps into the mud of the pigpen, muddying himself up to his waist. Caddy

ignores him and stands with her back to him. He comes around in front of

her and tells her that he was just hugging Natalie. She turns her back and

continues to ignore him, saying she doesn't give a damn what he was doing.

Shouting "I'll make you give a damn," he smears mud on her dress as she

slaps him. They tumble, fighting, on the grass, then sit up and realize how

dirty they are. They head to the branch to wash the mud off themselves.

Caddy kisses a boy (1906): Quentin slaps Caddy and demands to know why she

let the boy kiss her. With the red print of his hand rising on her cheek,

she replies that she didn't let him, she made him. Quentin tells her that

it is not for kissing that he slapped her, but for kissing a "darn town

squirt" (134). He rubs her face in the grass until she says "calf rope."

She shouts that at least she didn't kiss a "dirty girl like Natalie anyway"


Caddy has sex with Dalton Ames, 1909: Caddy stands in the doorway, and

someone [Quentin?] asks her why she won't bring Dalton Ames into the house.

Mother replies that she "must do things for women's reasons" (92). Caddy

will not look at Quentin. Benjy bellows and pulls at her dress and she

shrinks against the wall, and he pushes her out of the room. Sitting on the

porch, Quentin hears her door slamming and Benjy still howling. She runs

out of the house and Quentin follows her; he finds her lying in the branch.

He threatens to tell Father that he committed incest with her; she replies

with pity. He tells her that he is stronger than she is, he will make her

tell him. He adds that he fooled her; all the time she thought it was her

boyfriends and it was Quentin instead. The smell of honeysuckle is all

around them.

She asks him if Benjy is still crying. He asks her if she loves Dalton

Ames; she places his hand on her chest and he feels her heart beating

there. He asks her if he made her do it, saying "Ill kill him I swear I

will father neednt know until afterward and then you and I nobody need ever

know we can take my school money we can cancel my matriculation Caddy you

hate him dont you" (151). She moves his hand to her throat, where the blood

is "hammering," and says "poor Quentin" (151). A moment later she says "yes

I hate him I would die for him Ive already died for him I die for him over

and over again" (151). She looks at him and then says "you've never done

that have you," to which Quentin responds "yes yes lots of times with lots

of girls," but he is lying, and Caddy knows it; he cries on her shirt and

they lie together in the branch (151). He holds a knife to her throat,

telling her that he can kill her quickly and painlessly and then kill

himself. She agrees and he asks her to close her eyes, but she doesn't,

looking past his head at the sky.

He begins to cry; he cannot do it. She holds his head to her breast and he

drops the knife. She stands up and tells him that she has to go, and

Quentin searches in the water for his knife. The two walk together past the

ditch where Nancy's bones were, then she turns and tells him to stop [she

is headed to meet Dalton Ames]. He replies that he is stronger than she is;

she tells him to go back to the house. But he continues to follow her. Just

past the fence, Dalton Ames is waiting for her, and she introduces them and

kisses Dalton.

Quentin tells them that he is going to take a walk in the woods, and she

asks him to wait for her at the branch, that she will be there soon. He

walks aimlessly, trying to escape the smell of honeysuckle that chokes him,

and lies on the bank of the branch. Presently Caddy appears and tells him

to go home. He shakes her; she is limp in his hands and does not look at

him. They walk together to the house, and at the steps he asks her again if

she loves Dalton Ames. She tells him that she doesn't know. She tells him

that she is "bad anyway you cant help it" (158).

Quentin fights with Dalton Ames, 1909: Quentin sees Dalton Ames go into a

barbershop in town and waits for him to come out. He tells him "Ive been

looking for you two or three days" and Dalton replies that he can't talk to

him there on the street; the two arrange to meet at the bridge over the

creek at one o'clock (158). Dalton is very polite to Quentin. Later, Caddy

overhears Quentin telling T. P. to saddle his horse and asks him where he

is going. He will not tell her and calls her a whore. He tells T. P. that

he won't need his horse after all and walks to the bridge. Dalton is

waiting for him there. Quentin tells him to leave town.

Dalton stares at him and asks if Caddy sent him. Quentin tells him that

he, and only he, is asking Dalton to leave town. Dalton dismisses this,

just wishing to know if Caddy is all right. Quentin continues to order him

to leave, and Dalton counters with "what will you do if I dont leave"

(160). In response Dalton slowly and deliberately smokes a cigarette,

leaning on the bridge railing. He tells Quentin to stop taking it so hard,

that if he hadn't gotten Caddy pregnant some other guy would have. Shaking,

Quentin asks him if he ever had a sister, and he replies "no but theyre all

bitches" (160). Quentin hits him, but Dalton catches him by both wrists and

reaches under his coat for a gun, then turns him loose.

Dropping a piece of bark into the creek, Dalton shoots at it and hands the

gun to Quentin. Quentin punches at him and he holds his wrists again, and

Quentin passes out. He asks Quentin how he feels and if he can make it home

all right. He tells him that he'd better not walk and offers him his horse.

Quentin brushes him off and eventually he rides off. Quentin slumps against

a tree. He hears hoofbeats and Caddy comes running. She thought that Dalton

shot him. She holds his face with her hands and Quentin grabs her wrists.

She begs him to let her go so she can run after Dalton, then suddenly stops

struggling. Quentin asks her if she loves him. Again she places his hand on

her throat, and tells him to say his name. Quentin says "Dalton Ames," and

each time he does he can feel the blood surging in her throat.

Quentin meets Herbert Head before Caddy's wedding, 1910: Herbert finds

Quentin alone in the parlor and attempts to get to know him better. He is

smoking a cigar and offers one to Quentin. Herbert tells him that Caddy

talked so much about him when they met that he thought she was talking

about a husband or boyfriend, not a brother. He asks Quentin about Harvard,

reminiscing about his own college days, and Quentin accuses him of cheating

[he has heard rumors about Herbert's cheating at cards]. Herbert jokingly

banters back that Quentin is "better than a play you must have made the

Dramat" (108).

He tells Quentin that he likes him and that he is glad they are going to be

friends. He offers to give him a hand and get him started in business, but

Quentin rejects his offer and challenges him. They begin to fight but stop

when Herbert sees that his cigar butt has almost burned a spot into the

mantel. He backs off and again offers Quentin his friendship and offers him

some money, which Quentin rejects. They are just beginning to fight again

when Caddy enters and asks Herbert to leave so she can talk to Quentin

alone. Alone, she asks Quentin what he is doing and warns him not to get

involved in her life again. He notices that she is feverish, and she tells

him that she is sick. He asks her what she means and she tells him she is

just sick and begs him not to tell anyone. Again he asks her what she means

and tells her that if she is sick she shouldn't go through with the

ceremony. She replies that she can and must and that "after that it'll be

all right it wont matter" and begs him to look after Benjy and make sure

that they don't send him to an asylum (112). Quentin promises.

Caddy's wedding, 1910: Benjy is howling outside, and Caddy runs out the

door to him, "right out of the mirror" (77).

Mother speaks, undated: Mother tells Father that she wants to go away and

take only Jason, because he is the only child who loves her, the only child

who is truly a Bascomb, not a Compson. She says that the other three

children are her "punishment for putting aside [her] pride and marrying a

man who held himself above [her]" (104). These three are "not [her] flesh

and blood" and she is actually afraid of them, that they are the symbols of

a curse upon her and the family. She views Caddy not merely as damaging the

family name with her promiscuity but actually "corrupting" the other

children (104).

Quentin's conversations with Father, undated (a string of separate

conversations on the same theme): Quentin tells his father that he

committed incest with Caddy; his father does not believe him. Father takes

a practical, logical, if unemotional view of Caddy's sexuality, telling

Quentin that women have "a practical fertility of suspicion . . . [and] an

affinity for evil," that he should not take her promiscuity to heart

because it was inevitable (96). When Quentin tells him that he would like

to have been born a eunuch so that he never had to think about sex, he

responds "it's because you are a virgin: dont you see? Women are never

virgins. Purity is a negative state and therefore contrary to nature. It's

nature is hurting you not Caddy."

Quentin replies "that's just words" and father counters "so is virginity"

(116). Quentin insists that he has committed incest with Caddy and that he

wants to die, but still Father won't believe him. Father tells him that he

is merely "blind to what is in yourself to that part of general truth the

sequence of natural events and their causes which shadows every mans brow

even benjys . . . you cannot bear to think that someday it will no longer

hurt you like this" (177). He claims that not even Caddy was really "quite

worth despair," that Quentin will grow out of the pain he feels at her

betrayal of his ideal (178).

Analysis of June Second, 1910:

From the very first sentence of the section, Quentin is obsessed with time;

words associated with time like "watch," "clock," "chime," and "hour" occur

on almost every page. When Quentin wakes he is "in time again, hearing the

watch," and the rest of the day represents an attempt to escape time, to

get "out of time" (76). His first action when he wakes is to break the

hands off his watch in an attempt to stop time, to escape the "reducto

absurdum of all human experience" which is the gradual progression toward

death (76). Perversely taking literally his father's statement that "time

is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the

clock stops does time come to life," he tears the hands off his watch, only

to find that it continues to tick even without the hands (85). Throughout

this section, Quentin tries to escape time in similar ways; he tries to

avoid looking at clocks, he tries to travel away from the sound of school

chimes or factory whistles. By the end of the section he has succeeded in

escaping knowledge of the time (when he returns to school he hears the bell

ringing and has no idea what hour it is chiming off), but he still has not

taken himself out of time. In the end, as he knows throughout this section,

the only way to escape time is to die.

Jean-Paul Sartre, in his analysis of this novel, sees Quentin's suicide as

not merely a way of escaping time but of exploding time. His suicide is

present in all the actions of the day, not so much a fate he could dream of

escaping as "an immobile wall, a thing which he approaches backward, and

which he neither wants to nor can conceive" (Sartre, 91). It is not a

future but a part of the present, the point from which the story is told.

Quentin narrates the day's events in the past tense, as if they have

already happened; the "present" from which he looks back at the day's

events must be the moment of his death. As Sartre puts it:

Since the hero's last thoughts coincide approximately with the bursting of

his memory and its annihilation, who is remembering? . . . . [Faulkner] has

chosen the infinitesimal instant of death. Thus when Quentin's memory

begins to unravel its recollections ("Through the wall I heard Shreve's bed-

springs and then his slippers on the floor hishing. I got up . . . ") he is

already dead (92).

In other words, time explodes at the instant of Quentin's suicide, and the

events of this "infinitesimal instant" are recorded in this section. By

killing himself, Quentin has found the only way to access time that is

"alive" in the sense that his father details, time that has escaped the

clicking of little wheels.

But why does Quentin want to escape time? The answer lies in one of the

conversations with his father that are recorded in this section. When

Quentin claims that he committed incest with Caddy, his father refuses to

believe him and says:

You cannot bear to think that someday it will no longer hurt you like this

. . . it is hard believing to think that a love or a sorrow is a bond

purchased without design and which matures willynilly and is recalled

without warning . . . no you will not do that until you come to believe

that even she was not quite worth despair perhaps (177-178).

Quentin's response to this statement is "i will never do that nobody knows

what i know." His attempt to stop the progression of time is an attempt to

preserve the rawness of the pain Caddy's promiscuity and marriage have

caused him; he never wants to think of her as "not quite worth despair."

Like Benjy, Quentin is obsessed with an absent Caddy, and both brothers'

sections are ordered around memories of her, specifically of her

promiscuity. For both brothers, her absence is linked to her promiscuity,

but for Quentin her promiscuity signals not merely her loss from his life

but also the loss of the romantically idealized idea of life he has built

for himself. This ideal life has at its center a valuation of purity and

cleanness and a rejection of sexuality; Quentin sees his own developing

sexuality as well as his sister's as sinful. The loss of her virginity is

the painful center of a spiral of loss as his illusions are shattered.

Critics have read Quentin's obsession with Caddy's virginity as an

antebellum-style preoccupation with family honor, but in fact family honor

is hardly ever mentioned in this section. The pain that Caddy's promiscuity

causes Quentin seems too raw, too intense, too visceral to be merely a

disappointment at the staining family honor. And perhaps most importantly,

Quentin's response to her promiscuity, namely telling his father that he

and she committed incest, is not the act of a person concerned with family

honor. Rather it is the act of a boy so in love with his sister and so

obsessed with maintaining the closeness of their relationship that he would

rather be condemned by the town and suffer in hell than let her go. He is,

in fact, obsessed with her purity and virginity, but not to maintain

appearances in the town; he wants her forever to remain the unstained,

saintly mother/sister he imagines her to be.

Quentin did not, of course, commit incest with Caddy. And yet the

encounters he remembers are fraught with sexual overtones. When Caddy walks

in on Quentin and Natalie kissing in the barn, for instance, Quentin throws

himself into the "stinking" mud of the pigpen. When this fails to get a

response from Caddy, he wipes mud on her:

You dont you dont I'll make you I'll make you give a damn. She hit my hands

away I smeared mud on her with the other hand I couldnt feel the wet

smacking of her hand I wiped mud from my legs smeared it on her wet hard

turning body hearing her fingers going into my face but I couldnt feel it

even when the rain began to taste sweet on my lips (137).

Echoing the mud-stained drawers that symbolize her later sexuality, Quentin

smears mud on Caddy's body in a heated exchange, feeling as he does so her

"wet hard turning body." The mud is both Quentin's penance for his sexual

experimentation with Natalie and the sign of sexuality between Quentin and


The scene in the branch of the river is similarly sexual in nature. Quentin

finds Caddy at the branch trying to wash away the guilt she finds; amid the

"suck[ing] and gurgl[ing]" waves of the water. When he asks her if she

loves Dalton Ames, she places his hand on her chest and he feels her heart

"thudding" (150). He smells honeysuckle "on her face and throat like paint

her blood pounded against my hand I was leaning on my other arm it began to

jerk and jump and I had to pant to get any air at all out of that thick

gray honeysuckle;" and he lies "crying against her damp blouse" (150).

Taking out a knife, he holds it against her throat and tells her "it wont

take but a second Ill try not to hurt." She replies "no like this you have

to push it harder," and he says "touch your hand to it" (151). In this

scene we have the repetitive surging both of the water and of Caddy's blood

beneath Quentin's hand. We have the two siblings lying on top of one

another at the edge of this surging water, the pungent smell of honeysuckle

(which Quentin associates with sex throughout the section) so thick around

them that Quentin has trouble breathing. We have a knife (a common phallic

symbol) which Quentin proposes to push into Caddy's blood-flushed neck,

promising he will "try not to hurt." Overall, the scene overflows with

sexual metaphors; if the two do not actually commit incest, they certainly

do share a number of emotionally powerful, sexually loaded moments.

Quentin's wish to have committed incest is not a desire to have sex with

Caddy; that would shatter his ideals of purity even more than her

encounters with Dalton Ames. Nor is it, as we have determined, a way to

preserve the family honor. Instead, it seems to be a way to keep Caddy to

himself forever: "if it could just be a hell beyond that: the clean flame

the two of us more than dead. Then you will have only me then only me then

the two of us amid the pointing and the horror beyond the clean flame"

(116). Separated from the rest of the world by the "clean" purifying flames

of hell, Quentin and Caddy could be alone together, forever burning away

the sin of her sexuality. He would rather implicate himself in something as

horrible as incest than leave Caddy to her promiscuity or lose her through

her marriage to Herbert Head.

If time-words are the most frequently occurring words in this section, the

second most frequent is the word "shadow." Throughout his journeys, Quentin

is just as obsessed with his shadow as he is with time. For example, he

walks on his shadow as he wanders through Cambridge: "trampling my shadow's

bones . . . . I walked upon the belly of my shadow" (96). When asked what

the significance of shadows was in this section, Faulkner replied "that

shadow that stayed on his mind so much was foreknowledge of his own death,

that he was - Death is here, shall I step into it or shall I step away from

it a little longer? I won't escape it, but shall I accept it now or shall I

put it off until next Friday" (Minter, qtd. in Martin, 6). This explanation

certainly seems to fit some of Quentin's thoughts; for example, at one

point, he imagines drowning his shadow in the water of the river, just as

he will later drown himself: "my shadow leaning flat upon the water, so

easily had I tricked it . . . . if I only had something to blot it into the

water, holding it until it was drowned, the shadow of the package like two

shoes wrapped up lying on the water.

Niggers say a drowned man's shadow was watching for him in the water all

the time" (90). Here Quentin imagines his drowned shadow beckoning him from

the river, drowned before him and waiting for him to follow suit.

Like his shadow mirroring his motions and emotions, certain aspects of his

day's travels mirror his life and the troubled state of his mind. Most

obvious among these is his encounter with the Italian girl he calls

"sister" and the reaction of her brother Julio. Calling this little girl

"little sister" or "sister" ironically recalls Caddy, whom Quentin at one

point calls "Little Sister Death." But whereas his suicidal mission is

caused by the fact that he cannot hold on to Caddy, here he cannot get rid

of this "little sister," who follows him around the town and will not leave

him. Then when Julio finds them, he accuses Quentin stealing her, just as

Quentin feels Dalton Ames and Herbert Head have stolen Caddy from him.

Julio is not the only character to mirror Quentin, though. As Edmond Volpe

points out, Dalton Ames himself is a foil for Quentin, the embodiment of

the romantic ideal he has cast for himself:

Quentin's meeting with Dalton is a disaster. His conception of himself in

the traditional role of protector of women collapses, not only because he

fails to accomplish his purpose [of beating Dalton up] but because he is

forced to recognize his own weakness. Dalton is actually a reflection of

Quentin's vision of himself: calm, courageous, strong, kind. The real

Quentin does not measure up to the ideal Quentin, just as reality does not

measure up to Quentin's romantic vision of what life should be (113).

Quentin is in actuality the "obverse reflection" of himself, a man who does

not live up to his own ideals, who fails to protect his sister from a

villain who turns out to be as chivalrous and Quentin is weak.

Thus at the "infinitesimal instant" of his death, Quentin is a man whose

disillusionment with his shattered ideals consumes him. His death, one of

the "signs" Roskus sees of the bad luck of the Compson family, is one step

in the gradual dissolution of the family, a degeneration that will pick up

speed in the sections to come.

Summary of April Sixth, 1928:

Beginning with the statement "once a bitch always a bitch," this section

reads as if Jason is telling the reader the story of his day; it is more

chronological and less choppy than Quentin's or Benjy's sections, but still

unconventional in tone. Jason and his mother in her room waiting for

Quentin to finish putting on her makeup and go down to breakfast. Mother is

concerned that Quentin often skips school and asks Jason to take care of

it. Both Jason and his mother are manipulative and passive-aggressive,

mother complaining about the ailments she suffers and the way her children

betrayed her, Jason countering with statements like "I never had time to go

to Harvard or drink myself into the ground. I had to work. But of course if

you want me to follow her around and see what she does, I can quit the

store and get a job where I can work at night" (181). Jason goes down to

the kitchen, where Quentin is begging Dilsey for another cup of coffee.

Dilsey tells her she will be late for school, and Jason says he will fix

that, grabbing her by the arm.

Her bathrobe comes unfastened and she pulls it closed around her. He begins

to take off his belt, but Dilsey stops him from hitting her. Mother comes

in, and Jason puts down the belt. Quentin runs out of the house. In the car

on the way to town, Quentin and Jason fight about who paid for her

schoolbooks - Caddy or Jason. Jason claims that Mother has been burning all

of the checks Caddy sends. Quentin tells Jason that she would tear off any

dress that he paid for and grabs the neck of her dress as if she will tear

it. Jason has to stop the car and grab her wrists to stop her. He tells her

that she is a slut and a bad girl, and she replies that she would rather be

in hell than in his house. He drops her off at school and drives on to his

job at the farm goods store.

At the store, old Job, a black worker, is unloading cultivators, and Jason

accuses of him of doing it as slowly as he possibly can. He has mail; he

opens a letter with a check from Caddy. The letter asks if Quentin is sick

and states that she knows that Jason reads all her letters. He goes out to

the front of the store and engages in a conversation with a farmer about

the cotton crop. He tells him that cotton is a "speculator's crop" that "a

bunch of damn eastern jews" get farmers to grow so that they can control

the stock market (191). He goes to the telegraph office, where a stock

report has just come in (Jason has invested in the cotton crop) - the

cotton stock is up four points. He tells the telegraph operator to send a

collect message to Caddy saying "Q writing today" (193).

He goes back to the store and sits at his desk, reading a letter from his

girlfriend Lorraine, who is basically a prostitute he keeps in Memphis. She

calls Jason her "daddy." He burns her letter, commenting "I make it a rule

never to keep a scrap of paper bearing a woman's hand, and I never write

them at all" (193). Then he takes out Caddy's letter to Quentin, but before

he can open it some business interrupts him. He recalls the day of his

father's funeral; he remembers saying that Quentin wasted his chance at

Harvard, learning only "how to go for a swim at night without knowing how

to swim," Benjy is nothing but a "gelding" that should be rented out as a

circus sideshow, Father was a drunk who should have had a "one-armed strait

jacket," and Caddy is a whore (196-197).

Uncle Maury patted Mother's arm with expensive black gloves at the funeral,

and Jason noted that the flowers on the grave must have cost fifty dollars.

He also remembers the day that Father brought baby Quentin home; Mother

would not let her sleep in Caddy's old room, afraid she will be

contaminated by the atmosphere in there. She also declares that nobody in

the house must ever say Caddy's name again. On the day of the funeral,

Caddy appeared in the cemetery and begged Jason to let her see the baby for

just one minute, and she would pay him fifty dollars; later she changes

this to one hundred dollars. Jason smugly remembers how he took the baby in

a carriage and held her up to the window as he drove past Caddy; this

fulfilled his agreement to the letter. Later she showed up in the kitchen,

accusing him of backing out of their agreement. He threatened her and told

her to leave town immediately. She made him promise to treat Quentin well

and to give her the money that she sends for her.

Jason's boss, Earl, comes up to the front of the store and tells Jason he

is going out for a snack because they won't have time to go home for lunch;

a show is in town and there will be too much business. Jason finally opens

Caddy's letter to Quentin, and inside is a money order for fifty dollars,

not a check. He looks around in the office for a blank check; every month

he takes a fake check home to mother to burn and cashes the real check. But

the blank checks are all gone. Quentin comes in and asks if a letter has

come for her. He taunts her, then finally gives her the letter, without the

money in it. She reaches out for the money order, but he will not give it

to her. He tells her she has to sign it without looking at it. She asks how

much it is for, and he tells her it is for ten dollars. She says he is

lying, but he will not give it to her until she agrees to take ten dollars

for it. She takes the money and leaves, upset.

Earl returns and again tells Jason not to go home to lunch; Jason agrees

and leaves. First he goes to a print shop to get a blank check. The print

shop doesn't have any, and finally Jason finds a checkbook that was a prop

at an old theater. He goes back to the store and puts the check in the

letter, gluing the envelope back to look unopened. As he leaves again, Earl

tells him not to take too much time. He goes to the telegraph office and

checks up on the stock market, then goes home for lunch. He goes up to

Mother's room and gives her the doctored letter. Instead of burning it

right away she looks at it for a while. She notices that it is drawn on a

different bank than the others have been, but then burns it. Dilsey is not

ready with lunch yet because she is waiting for Quentin to come home;

finally she puts it on the table and they eat. Jason hands Mother a letter

from Uncle Maury; it is a letter asking her to lend him some money for an

investment he would like to make.

Jason takes Mother's bankbook with him and returns to town. He goes to the

bank and deposits the money from Caddy and his paycheck, then returns to

the telegraph office for an update; the stock is down thirteen points. He

goes back to the store, where Earl asks him if he went home to dinner.

Jason tells him that he had to go to the dentist's. A while later he hears

the band from the show start playing. He argues with Job about spending

money to go to a show like that. Suddenly he sees Quentin in an alley with

a stranger with a red bow tie. It is still 45 minutes before school should

let out. He follows them up the street, but they disappear. A boy comes up

and gives Jason a telegram: the market day closed with cotton stocks down.

He goes back to the store and tells Earl that he has to go out for a while.

He gets in his car and goes home. Gasoline gives him headaches, and he

thinks about having to bring some camphor with him when he goes back to the

store. He goes into his room and hides the money from Caddy in a strongbox

in his room. Mother tells him to take some aspirin, but he doesn't. He gets

back in his car and is almost to town when he passes a Ford driven by a man

with a red bow tie. He looks closer and sees Quentin inside. He chases the

Ford through the countryside, his headache growing by the second. Finally

he sees the Ford parked near a field and gets out to look for them; he is

sure they are hiding in the bushes somewhere having sex. The sun slants

directly into his eyes, and his headache is pounding so hard he can't think

straight. He reaches the place where he thinks they are, then hears a car

start up behind him and drive off, the horn honking. He returns to his own

car and sees that they have let the air out of one of his tires. He has to

walk to the nearest farm to borrow a pump to blow it back up.

He returns to town, stopping in a drugstore to get a shot for his headache

and the telegraph office; he has lost $200 on the stock market. Then he

goes back to the store. A telegram has arrived from his stockbroker,

advising him to sell. Instead he writes back to the broker, telling him he

will buy. The store closes, and he drives home to the sounds of the band

playing. At home, Quentin and Mother are fighting upstairs, and Luster asks

him for a quarter to go to the show. Jason replies that he has two tickets

already that he won't be using. Luster begs him for one, but he tells him

he will only sell it to him for a nickel. Luster replies that he has no

money, and Jason burns the tickets in the fireplace. Dilsey puts supper on

the table for him and tells him that Quentin and Mother won't be coming to


Jason insists that they come unless they are actually sick. They come

down. At dinner, he offers Quentin an extra piece of meat and tells her and

Mother that he lent his car to a stranger who needed to chase around one of

his relatives who was running around with a town woman. Quentin looks

guilty. Finally she stands up and says that if she is bad, it is only

because Jason made her bad. She runs off and slams the door. Mother

comments that she got all of Caddy's bad traits and all of Quentin's too;

Jason takes this to mean that Mother thinks Quentin is the child of Caddy

and her brother's incestuous relationship. They finish dinner, and Mother

locks Quentin into her room for the night. Jason retires to his room for

the night, still ruminating on the "dam New York jew" that is taking all of

his money (263).

Analysis of April Sixth, 1928:

Jason's section appears more readable and more conventional; its style,

while still stream-of-consciousness, is more chronological in progression,

with very few jumps in time. It reads more like a monologue than a string

of loosely connected events, like Benjy's and Quentin's sections were.

Critics have claimed that the book progresses from chaos to order, from

timelessness to chronology, from pure sensation to logical order, and from

interiority to exteriority as it travels from Benjy's world of bright

shapes and confused time through Jason's rigorously ordered universe to the

third-person narrative of the fourth section. This third section represents

a shift into the public world from the anguished interiority of Benjy and

Quentin, and a shift into "normal" novelistic narrative as Jason recounts

the story of the events of the day.

The first sentence of each section reveals a lot about the tone and themes

of that particular part; this is especially true with Quentin's and Jason's

section. In Quentin's section, the first sentence draws the reader into his

obsession with being caught "in time" and includes two of the most common

symbols in the section: time and shadows. Jason's section begins "once a

bitch always a bitch, what I say," introducing both Jason's irrational

anger not only toward his sister and her daughter, but toward the world in

general, and also the rigorous logic that runs through this section (180).

Jason's world is dominated by logic. Once a bitch, always a bitch; like

mother, like daughter. Caddy was a whore, so is her daughter. He is furious

at Caddy for ruining his chances at getting a job, and the way she ruined

his chances was to bear an illegitimate daughter; therefore the way he will

get revenge on her and simultaneously recoup the money he lost is through

this same daughter. Caddy should have gotten him a job, but instead she had

Quentin; therefore it is his right to embezzle the money she sends to

Quentin in order to make up for the money he lost when he lost the job.

Jason's logic takes the form of literalism. Caddy is responsible for

getting him money, no matter where it comes from. She sends money each

month for Quentin's upkeep; he keeps Quentin clothed, housed and fed, so

the money should go to him. He himself claims that he "make[s] it a rule

never to keep a scrap of paper bearing a woman's hand," and yet he keeps

the money from the checks Caddy sends him; this act fits into his system of

logic because he cashes the checks, literally getting rid of her

handwriting while keeping the money. He allows his mother to literally burn

the checks she sends, but only after he has cashed them in secret. When

Caddy gives him 100 dollars to "see [Quentin] a minute" he grants her

request to the letter, holding the baby up to the carriage window as he

drives by, literally allowing Caddy only a minute's glimpse (203-205). When

Luster can't pay him a nickel for tickets to the show, he burns the tickets

rather than give then to him (255). All of these acts fit into a rigid and

literally defined logical order with which Jason structures his life.

Some readers see Jason's logic as a sign that he is more "sane" than the

rest of his family. He is not retarded like Benjy or irrationally

distraught like Quentin. He is able to live his life in a relatively normal

way, with a logical order to both his narrative and his daily activities.

However, Jason is just as blind, just as divorced from reality as his

brothers. Like them, he tries to control his life through a strictly

defined order, and when this is disrupted he collapses into irrationality.

Benjy's system of order is the routine of everyday life, disrupted on a

grand scale when Caddy leaves and on a small scale when Luster turns the

horses the wrong way or changes the arrangement of his "graveyard."

Quentin's system of order is the honor and purity he saw in himself and

Caddy when they were young, disrupted when Caddy loses her virginity and

leaves him. Jason's system of order is the rigidity of his logic, most of

which has to do with money, and with this he tries to control the world

around him. This system is disrupted when he loses his job opportunity

(Quentin gets a career boost in going to Harvard, so should Jason get a

career boost from Herbert Head), and again when Quentin refuses to come to

dinner, skips school, or runs away with his money. For each brother, the

systems he has established help to control everyday life, and the way they

do so is by controlling Caddy. As long as she is motherly to Benjy,

virginal to Quentin, and profftable to Jason, their worlds are in order.

But these controlling mechanisms are inflexible, breaking down entirely as

soon as Caddy or her daughter defies them.

Each brother remains irrationally connected with the past, particularly

with memories of Caddy. Benjy relives his memories of Caddy all the time,

making no distinction between the present and the past. Quentin goes

through the routines of life washed in a sea of memories of Caddy. And

Jason, for all he seems to have cut himself off from her entirely by

refusing to mention her name, is perhaps the closest of all to her. Not

only is he surrounded by reminders of her in the shape of her daughter and

her money, but he is also constantly reminded of her in his anger. It has

been eighteen years since she lost him his job opportunity, and yet he

remains as angry with her as he ever was. Certainly this is no way to

forget her, nor is it any more "sane" than his brothers.

Nor is Jason even a particularly good businessman, for all he obsesses

about money. In the course of this one day he loses $200 in the stock

market, for example; he has been warned that the market is in a state of

flux and yet he leaves town on a wild goose chase when he should be

watching the market and deliberately defies his broker's advice by buying

when he should sell. He is rude and spiteful to his boss, which is

certainly not the best way to succeed in business. He buys a car even

though he knows that gasoline gives him headaches. And perhaps the clearest

indication of his bad business sense is the fact that when Quentin steals

his savings in the fourth section, she steals $7000. This is the money that

he has been embezzling from Caddy and Quentin, and Caddy has been sending

him $200 a month for fifteen years. By this point he should have amassed

upwards of $30,000; where did it all go? Even though he thinks of little

else besides money, he is not capable of handling it properly.

Mrs. Compson spends much of the novel telling Jason that he is different

from Quentin and Benjy, that he is a Bascomb at heart. And yet, underneath

the sadism, money-grubbing and isolation, Jason is surprisingly similar to

his brothers. He is just as obsessed with Caddy as they are, and her

sexuality shatters his world just as much as theirs.

Summary of April Eighth, 1928:

The section opens with Dilsey standing on the stoop of her house in her

church clothes, then going back inside to change into her work clothes. It

is raining and gray outside. Dilsey goes into the kitchen and brings some

firewood with her; she can barely walk. She begins to make breakfast and

Mrs. Compson calls her from upstairs; she wants her to fill her hot water

bottle. Dilsey struggles up the stairs to get the hot water bottle, saying

that Luster has overslept after the night's reveries. She goes outside and

calls Luster; he appears from the cellar looking guilty and she tells him

to get some firewood and take care of Benjy. He brings in a huge armful of

firewood and leaves. A while later, Mrs. Compson calls her again, and she

goes out to the stairs. Mrs. Compson wants to know when Luster will be up

to take care of Benjy.

Dilsey begins to slowly climb the stairs again, while Mrs. Compson

inquires whether she had better go down and make breakfast herself. When

Dilsey is halfway up the stairs, Mrs. Compson reveals that Benjy is not

even awake yet, and Dilsey clambers back down. Luster emerges from the

cellar again. She makes him get another armful of wood and go up to tend

Benjy. The clock strikes five times, and Dilsey says "eight o'clock" (274).

Luster appears with Benjy, who is described as big and pale, with white-

blonde hair cut in a child's haircut and pale blue eyes. She sends Luster

up to see if Jason is awake yet; Luster reports that he is up and angry

already because one of the windows in his room is broken. He accuses Luster

of breaking it, but Luster swears he didn't.

Jason and Mrs. Compson come to the table for breakfast. Although Mrs.

Compson usually allows Quentin to sleep in on Sundays, Jason insists that

she come and eat with them now. Dilsey goes upstairs to wake her. Mrs.

Compson tells him that the black servants are all taking the afternoon off

to go to church; the family will have to have a cold lunch. Upstairs Dilsey

calls to Quentin, but receives no answer. Suddenly, Jason springs up and

mounts the stairs, shouting for Quentin. There is still no response and he

comes back down to snatch the key to her room from his mother. He fumbles

at the lock and then finally opens the door. The room is empty. Jason runs

to his own room and begins throwing things out of the closet. Mrs. Compson

looks around Quentin's note for a suicide note, convinced that history is

repeating itself. In his room, Jason finds that his strongbox has been

broken into. He runs to the phone and calls the sheriff, telling him that

he has been robbed, and that he expects the sheriff to get together a posse

of men to help him search for Quentin. He storms out.

Luster comments that he bets Jason beat Quentin and now he is going for the

doctor. Dilsey tells him to take Benjy outside. Luster tells her that he

and Benjy saw Quentin climb out her window and down the pear tree last

night. Dilsey goes back to her cabin and changes into her church clothes

again. She calls for Luster and finds him trying to play a saw like one of

the players did at the show last night. She tells him to get his cap and to

come with her; they meet up with Frony and head to church, Benjy in tow.

Dilsey carries herself with pride among the other blacks, and some of the

children dare each other to touch Benjy. They take their seats as the mass


The sermon will be delivered by a visiting preacher, Reverend Shegog. The

preachers process in, and Reverend Shegog is so slight and nondescript as

to attract no attention. But when he speaks, he holds their attention.

First he speaks without accent "like a white man," describing the

"recollection and the blood of the Lamb," then when this doesn't have much

of an effect, he modulates into black dialect and delivers the same sermon

again, describing the major events of Jesus' life and his resurrection.

When he finishes, Benjy is rapt with attention and Dilsey is quietly

weeping. As the leave the church, she states "I've seed de first en de last

. . . . I seed de beginning, en now I sees de endin" (297).

They return to the house. Dilsey goes up to Mrs. Compson's room and checks

on her; Mrs. Compson, still convinced that Quentin has killed herself, asks

Dilsey to pick up the Bible that has fallen off the bed. Dilsey goes back

downstairs and prepares lunch for the family, commenting that Jason will

not be joining them.

Meanwhile, Jason is in his car driving to the sheriff's. When he gets

there, nobody is prepared to leave as Jason requested. He enters the

station, and the sheriff tells him that he will not help him find Quentin,

because it was her own money she stole and because Jason drove her away.

Jason drives away toward Mottson, the town where the traveling show will be

next. He begins to get a headache and remembers that he has forgotten to

bring any camphor with him. By the time he gets to Mottson he cannot see

very well; he finds two Pullman cars that belong to the show and he enters

one. Inside is an old man, and he asks him where Quentin and her boyfriend

are. The man becomes angry and threatens him with a knife.

Jason hits him on the head and he slumps to the floor. He runs from the

car, and the old man comes out of the car with a hatchet in his hand. They

struggle, and Jason falls to the ground. Some show people haul him to his

feet and push him away. One of the men tells him that Quentin and her

boyfriend aren't there, that they have left town. Jason goes back to his

car and sits down, but he can't see to drive. He calls to some passing

boys, asking if they will drive him back to Jackson for two dollars; they

refuse. He sits a while longer in the car. A black man in overalls comes up

to him and says that he will drive him for four dollars, but Jason refuses,

then eventually acquiesces.

Back at the house, Luster takes Benjy out to his "graveyard," which

consists of two blue glass bottles with jimson weeds sticking out of them.

Luster hides one of the bottles behind his back, and Benjy starts to howl;

Luster puts it back. He takes Benjy by the golf course and they watch the

men playing. When one of them yells "caddie," Benjy begins to cry again.

Frustrated, Luster repeats Caddy's name over and over, making him cry even

louder. Dilsey calls them and they go to her cabin. Dilsey rocks Benjy and

strokes his hair, telling Luster to go get his favorite slipper. When he

begins to cry again, Dilsey asks Luster where T. P. is (T. P. is supposed

to take Benjy to the graveyard as he does every Sunday). Luster tells her

that he can drive the surrey instead of T. P., and she makes him promise to

be good. They put Benjy into the surrey and hand him a flower to hold, and

Luster climbs into the driver's seat.

Dilsey takes the switch away from him and tells him that the horse knows

the way. As soon as they are out of sight of the house, Luster stops the

horse and picks a switch from the bushes along the road, then climbs back

into the driver's seat, carrying himself like royalty. They approach the

square and pass Jason in his car by the side of the road. Luster, carried

away in his pride, turns the horse to the left of the statue in the square

instead of to the right, breaking the pattern that Benjy is used to. Benjy

begins to howl. As his voice gets louder and louder, Jason comes running

and turns the horse around. When the objects they pass begin to go in the

right direction again, Benjy hushes.

Analysis of April Eighth, 1928:

Readers commonly refer to this section of the novel as "Dilsey's section,"

although it is narrated in the third person. Dilsey plays a prominent role

in this section, and even if she does not narrate this section, she serves

a sort of moral lens through which to view the other characters in the

section and, in fact, in the novel as a whole. The section contrasts

Dilsey's slow, patient progress through the day with Jason's irrational

pursuit of Quentin and Mrs. Compson's self-centered flightiness. As we

watch Dilsey slowly climb up the stairs as Mrs. Compson watches to tend to

Benjy, only to discover halfway up that he isn't even awake yet, we begin

to sympathize with this wizened old woman. As we see her tenderly wiping

Benjy's mouth as he eats, we come to see her as the only truly good person

in the book. Even Caddy, the object of Benjy and Quentin's obsessions, was

not as selflessly kind or as reliable as Dilsey. Throughout the course of

the section, she is witness to any number of the Compson family's flaws,

yet she never judges them.

The only statement she makes that resembles a judgement is her concern that

Luster has inherited the "Compson devilment." Instead she stands calmly in

the midst of the chaos of the disintegrating household, patiently bearing

what she is dealt "like cows do in the rain" (272). Unlike any of the

Compson family, Dilsey is capable of extending outside herself and her own

needs. Each of the brothers is selfish in his own way; Benjy because he

cannot take care of himself and relies on her to, Quentin because he is too

wrapped up in his ideals, Jason because of his greed and anger. Mrs.

Compson is even worse, passive-aggressively manipulating the members of the

family as she lies in her sickbed. And Miss Quentin is too troubled and

lonely to sympathize with anyone else. Dilsey, however, in her kindness,

ungrudgingly takes care of each family member with tenderness and respect.

In her selflessness, Dilsey conforms to the Christian ideal of goodness in

self-sacrifice; therefore it is not surprising that the section takes place

on Easter Sunday. This section of the novel resounds with biblical

allusions and symbols and revolves around the sermon delivered by Reverend

Shegog at Dilsey's church. The sermon profoundly affects Dilsey, who leaves

the church in tears. Perhaps this is because the sermon seems to describe

perfectly the disintegrating Compson family. Benjamin is the youngest son

described as being "sold into Egypt" in the Appendix to the novel; here

Shegog lectures on the Israelites who "passed away in Egypt" (295).

Matthews notes that Jason is a "wealthy pauper" (11), fitting Shegog's

description: "wus a rich man: whar he now, O breddren? Wus a po man: whar

he now, O sistuhn?" (295). He has embezzled thousands of dollars from his

sister, yet he lives like a poor man. Even Mrs. Compson, Matthews claims,

is described in Shegog's sermon: "I hears de weepin en de lamentation of de

po mammy widout de salvation en de word of God" (296). Matthews even

suggests that Quentin is implied in the voice of one congregation member

that rises "like bubbles rising in water" (11).

Much has been made of the religious symbolism in this chapter. Aside from

Shegog's sermon there is Benjy's age: he is 33 years old, the age Christ

was when he died. Like Christ, or like a priest, he is celibate. And he

seems to be one of the only "pure" members of the family, incapable of

doing anything evil merely because of his handicaps. But he is not the only

Christlike member of the family. Quentin, the daughter of the woman whose

brother wanted to remember her as both virginal and motherly, has an

unknown father, just as Christ, the son of the Virgin Mary, had no earthly


Like Christ, Quentin suffers a misunderstood and mistreated existence. But

most compelling is the fact of her disappearance on Easter Sunday. Just as

the disciples found Christ's tomb empty, the wrappings from his body

discarded on the floor, Jason opens Quentin's room to find it empty: "the

bed had not been disturbed. On the floor lay a soiled undergarment of cheap

silk a little too pink, from a half open bureau drawer dangled a silk

stocking" (282). If Quentin is a Christ figure, however, she seems to have

a very un-Christlike effect on her family. Whereas the pure and virginal

Christ's disappearance signaled the end of death and the beginning of new

life in heaven, the promiscuous Quentin's disappearance signals the

destruction of her family.

Other elements of the section seem more apocalyptic: there is Shegog's

name, for instance, which sounds much like the Gog and Magog mentioned in

the Book of Revelation. There is the story's preoccupation with the end of

the Compson family: Jason is the last of the Compsons, and he is childless,

his house literally rotting away. And finally there is Dilsey's comment

that she has seen the first and the last, the beginning and the end:

although the meaning of this statement is unclear, she seems to be

discussing the end of the Compson family as well as her life, and perhaps

the end of the world. Dilsey has borne witness to the alpha and the omega

of the Compson family.

Nevertheless, none of this religious symbolism is particularly well-

developed. It is impossible to tell who, if anyone, is the Christ figure in

this Easter story. It is impossible to know what will happen to Quentin, or

if the family will really dissolve as Dilsey seems to think it will. Nor is

it particularly clear why Reverend Shegog's sermon has such an effect on

Dilsey or what his actual message is; he has seen the recollection and the

blood of the Lamb, but why is this important? What should the congregation

do about it? What can they do in order to see this themselves?

The problem with this last section is that it doesn't satisfactorily bring

the story of the Compson family to a close. The reader is left with a

glimpse of the family's psychology and slow demise, but no real answers, no

redemption. We don't know what will happen to the family or its servants:

will Jason send Benjy to Jackson? Will Dilsey die? Will Quentin get away?

John Matthews has pointed out that the story doesn't really end but keeps

repeating itself.

This is partially due to its nature as a stream-of-consciousness

narrative; none of the three brothers' sections is purely chronological,

therefore when the story ends their memories continue on. Matthews claims

that the fourth section does not "[complete] the shape of the fiction's

form" or "retrospectively order" the rest of the book; in fact it does not

have much to do with the first two sections at all (9). The Compson clock

ticks away toward the family's imminent demise, but it chimes the wrong

hours, mangling the metaphor. Reverend Shegog's sermon does not have the

intended effect, so he modifies it and tells it again: it "succeeds because

it is willing to say, and then say again" (12). The story doesn't end; its

loose ends are not tied together. Instead it constantly repeats. Faulkner

himself said that the novel grew because he wrote the story of Caddy once

(Benjy's section), and that didn't work, so he wrote it again (Quentin's

section), but that wasn't enough either, so he wrote it again (Jason's

section), and finally wrote it again (Dilsey's section), and even this

wasn't good enough. The story of Caddy and the Compsons does not end, but

repeats itself eternally in its characters' memories.

The Streetcar Named Desire


Tennessee Williams was born Thomas Lanier Williams in Columbus,

Mississippi, in 1911. Much of his childhood was spent in St. Louis. The

nickname Tennessee' seems to have been pinned on him in college, in

reference to is father's birthplace or his own deep Southern accent, or

maybe both.Descended from an old and prominent Tennessee family, Williams's

fatherworked at a shoe company and was often away from home. Williams lived

with mother, his sister Rose (who would suffer from mental illness and

later undergo a lobotomy), and his maternal grandparents.

At sixteen, Williams won $5 in a national competition for his essay, "Can a

Wife be a Good Sport?," published in Smart Set. The next year he published

his first story in Weird Tales. Soon after, he entered the University of

Missouri, where he wrote his first play. He withdrew from the university

before receiving his degree, and went to work at his father's shoe company.

After entering and dropping out of Washington University, Williams

graduated from the University of Iowa in 1938. He continued to work on

drama, receiving a Rockefeller grant and studying play writing at The New

School in Manhattan. During the early years of World War Two, Williams

worked in Hollywood as a scriptwriter.

In 1944, The Glass Menagerie opened in New York, won the prestigious New

York Critics' Circle Award, and catapulted Williams into the upper echelon

of American playwrights. Two years later, A Streetcar Named Desire cemented

his reputation, garnering another Critics' Circle and adding a Pulitzer

Prize. He would win another Critics' Circle and Pulitzer for Cat on a Hot

Tin Roof in 1955.

Tennessee Williams mined his own life for much of the pathos in his drama.

His most memorable characters (many of them complex females, such as

Blanche DuBois) contain recognizable elements of their author or people

close to him. Alcoholism, depression, thwarted desire, loneliness in search

of purpose, and insanity were all part of Williams's world. Certainly his

experience as a known homosexual in an era and culture unfriendly to

homosexuality informed his work. His setting was the South, yet his themes

were universal and compellingly enough rendered to win him an international

audience and worldwide acclaim. In later life, as most critics agree, the

quality of his work diminished. He sufiered a long period of depression

after the death of his longtime partner in 1963. Yet his writing career was

long and prolific: twenty-five full-length plays, five screenplays, over

seventy one act plays, hundreds of short stories, two novels, poetry, and a

memoir. Five of his plays were made into movies.

Williams died of choking in an alcohol-related incident in 1983.


Blanche { Stella's older sister, until recently a high school English

teacher in Laurel, Mississippi. She arrives in New Orleans a loquacious,

witty, arrogant, fragile, and ultimately crumbling figure. Blanche once was

married to and passionately in love with a tortured young man. He killed

himself after she discovered his homosexuality, and she has sufiered from

guilt and regret ever since. Blanche watched parents and relatives{all the

old guard{die off, and then had to endure foreclosure on the family estate.

Cracking under the strain, or perhaps yielding to urges so long suppressed

that they now cannot be contained, Blanche engages in a series of sexual

escapades that trigger an expulsion from her community. In New Orleans she

puts on the airs of a woman who has never known indignity, but Stanley sees

through her. Her past catches up with her and destroys her relationship

with Mitch. Stanley, as she fears he might, destroys what's left of her. At

the end of the play she is led away to an insane asylum.

Stella Kowalski { Blanche's younger sister, with the same timeworn

aristocratic heritage, but who has jumped the sinking ship and linked her

life with lower-class vitality. Her union with Stanley is animal and

spiritual, violent but renewing. She cannot really explain it to Blanche.

While she loves her older sister, and pities her, she cannot bring herself

to believe Blanche's accusation against Stanley. Though it is agony, she

has her sister committed.

Stanley Kowalski { Stanley is the epitome of vital force. He is a man in

the ush of life, a lover of women, a worker, a fighter, new blood{a chief

male of the ock, with his tail feathers fanned and brilliant. He is loyal

to his friends, passionate to his wife, and heartlessly cruel to Blanche.

Mitch { An army buddy, coworker, and poker buddy of Stanley. He is the

sensitive member of that crowd, perhaps because he lives with his slowly-

dying mother. Mitch and Blanche are both people in need of companionship

and support. Though Mitch is of Stanley's world, and Blanche is off in her

own world, the two believe they have found an acceptable companion in the

other. Mitch woos Blanche over the course of the summer until Stanley

reveals secrets about Blanche's past.

Eunice { Stella's friend and landlady. Lives above the Kowalskis with


Steve { Poker buddy of Stanley. Lives upstairs with Eunice.

Pablo { Poker buddy of Stanley.

A Negro Woman { Two brief appearances. She is sitting on the steps talking

to Eunice when Blanche arrives. Later, in the 'real-world-struggle-for-

existence' sequence, she ri es through a prostitute's abandoned handbag.

A Doctor { Comes to the door at the play's finale to whisk Blanche off to

an asylum. After losing a struggle with the nurse, Blanche willingly goes

with the kindly-seeming doctor.

A Nurse { Comes with the doctor to collect Blanche and bring her to an

institution. A matronly, unfeminine figure with a talent for subduing

hysterical patients.

A Young Collector { A young man (seventeen, perhaps), who comes to the door

to collect for the newspaper. Blanche lusts after him but constrains

herself to irtation and a passionate farewell kiss. The boy leaves


A Mexican woman { A vendor of Mexican funeral decorations who frightens

Blanche by issuing the plaintive call: Flores para los muertos. The Mexican

woman later reprises this role in the underrated comedy Quick Change

(1990), starring Bill Murray and Geena Davis.


Stanley and Stella Kowalski live on a street called Elysian Fields in a run-

down but charming section of New Orleans. They are newly married and

desperately in love. One day Stella's older sister, Blanche DuBois, arrives

to stay with them, setting up the drama's central con ict: an emotional tug-

of-war between the raw, brute sensuality of Stanley and the fragile,

crumbling gentility of Blanche. Truth be told, it is not an even match, for

Blanche is already sliding down a slippery slope. Blanche and Stella are

the last in a line of landed Southern gentry. Stella has renounced the worn

dictates of class propriety to follow her heart and marry an uncultured

blue-collar worker of Polish extraction. Meanwhile, Blanche has played

nursemaid to the old guard on its deathbed and watched the family estate

slip through her fingers into foreclosure. Her professed values are those

of an older South, of charm and wit and chivalry, gaiety and light,

appearance and code.

Blanche claims she has been given a leave of absence from her high school

teaching job to recover from a nervous breakdown. She settles in with the

Kowalskis but things do not go smoothly. Her disapproval of Stanley and the

station in life her sister Stella has chosen is obvious, though she strives

to be polite. Her feelings against Stanley are galvanized when she

witnesses him strike Stella in a fit of drunken rage. Stanley's feelings

for her are similarly hardened when he overhears her describe him as animal-

like, neolithic, and brutish. Blanche's imposition, her airs, and her

distortions of reality infuriate Stanley. He begins to chip away at her

thin veneer of armor.

Of Stella's and Stanley's friends, one seems to stand above the rest in

sensitivity and grace. This is Mitch, who works at the same factory as

Stanley, and lives with his sick mother. He has no refinement, but his

native gentleness and sincerity inspire Blanche to return his afiection.

The two seem to need each other They see a great deal of one another as the

summer wears on, but Blanche places strict limits on their intimacy. She

has old-fashioned ideals and morals, she tells him. Meanwhile, Stella's

first pregnancy progresses and Stanley continues his subtle campaign of

intimidation against Blanche.

Blanche's past catches up with her. When she was younger, she fell in love

with and married a man whom she later caught in bed with another man. When

she confronted him, he killed himself for shame. This knocked the

foundations out from under her, and the subsequent poverty and emotional

hardships were too much for her. She sought solace or oblivion in the

intimacy of strangers; apparently many intimacies with many strangers, and

a disastrous afiair with a seventeen- year-old student at her high school.

Blanche departed Mississippi in disgrace and arrived in New Orleans with

nowhere else to go. Stanley discovers this sordid account. He tells Mitch

and efiectively ends the budding relationship. For Blanche's birthday,

Stanley presents her with a one-way bus ticket back to Mississippi. And

then, while Stella is in labor at the hospital, Stanley rapes Blanche.

Stella cannot believe the story Blanche tells her about the man she loves.

And Blanche's grasp on reality is otherwise shattered. So, with supreme

remorse, Stella has Blanche committed. In the final scene of the play,

Stella sobs in agony and the rest look on indifierently as a doctor and a

nurse lead Blanche away.

Scene 1 Summary

The scene is the exterior of a corner building on a street called Elysian

Fields, in a poor section of New Orleans with "rafish charm." The building

has two ats: upstairs live Steve and Eunice, downstairs Stanley and Stella.

Voices and the bluesy notes of an old piano emanate from an unseen bar

around the corner. It is early May, evening.

Eunice and a Negro woman are relaxing on the steps of the building when

Stanley and Mitch show up. Stanley hollers for Stella, who comes out onto

the first oor landing. Stanley hurls a package of meat up to her. He and

Mitch are going to meet Steve at the bowling alley; Stella soon follows to

watch them. Eunice and the Negro woman in particular find something

humorously suggestive in the meat-hurling episode.

Soon after Stella leaves, her sister Blanche arrives with a suitcase,

looking with disbelief at a slip of paper in her hand and then at the

building. She is "daintily" dressed and moves tentatively, looking and

apparently feeling out of place in this neighborhood. Eunice assures her

that this is where Stella lives. The Negro woman goes to the bowling alley

to tell Stella of her sister's arrival while Eunice lets Blanche into the

two-room at. Eunice makes small talk. We learn that Blanche is from

Mississippi, that she is a teacher, that her family estate is called Belle

Reve. Blanche finally asks to be left alone.

Eunice, somewhat offended, leaves to help fetch Stella. Blanche, trying to

control her discomfort, nerves, and whatever else, spies a bottle of

whiskey and downs a shot.

Stella returns. The women embrace, and Blanche talks feverishly, nearly

hysterical. Blanche is clearly critical of the physical and social setting

in which Stella lives. She tries to check her criticism, but the reunion

begins on a tense and probably familiar note. Blanche tells Stella that she

has been given a leave of absence from school due to her nerves, and that

is why she is here in the middle of the term. She wants Stella to tell her

how she looks, and in return comments on Stella's plumpness. She fusses

over Stella, is surprised to learn Stella has no maid, takes another drink,

worries about the privacy and decency of her staying in the apartment when

Stella and Stanley are in the next room with no door, and worries whether

Stanley will like her.

Stella warns Blanche that Stanley is very difierent from the men with whom

Blanche is familiar back home. She is quite clearly deeply in love with

him. In an outburst that builds to a crescendo of hysteria, Blanche reveals

that she has lost Belle Reve and recounts how she sufiered through the

agonizingly slow deaths of their parents and relatives{all while, according

to Blanche, Stella was in bed with her "Polack." Stella finally cuts her

off, then leaves the room, crying. Blanche begins to apologize, but the men

are returning.

They discuss plans for tomorrow's poker night, then break up. Stanley

enters the apartment and sizes Blanche up. The two make small talk, with

Stanley in the lead and Blanche reacting. Stanley asks what happened to

Blanche's marriage. Blanche replies haltingly that the "boy" died. She sits

down and declares that she feels ill.

Scene 2 Summary

Six o'clock the following day. Blanche is taking a bath. Stella tells

Stanley to be kind to Blanche because she has undergone the ordeal of

losing Belle Reve (the family estate). Stanley is more interested in what

happened to the proceeds of the supposed sale. He thinks Stella has been

swindled out of her rightful share, which means that he has been swindled.

Angrily he pulls all of Blanche's belongings out of her trunk, looking for

a bill of sale. To him, Blanche's somewhat tawdry clothing and rhinestone

jewelry look like finery{all that remains of the estate's value. Enraged at

Stanley's actions, Stella storms out onto the porch.

Blanche finishes her bath. She sends Stella out to the drug store to buy a

soda while she and Stanley have their discussion. With her blend of

irtation, nonsense, sincerity, and desperation, Blanche manages to disarm

Stanley and convince him that no fraud has been perpetrated against anyone.

Blanche is horrified when Stanley opens and begins to read the old letters

and love poems from her husband. Stanley lets slip that Stella is going to

have a baby. Stella returns from the drugstore and some of the men arrive

for their poker game. Exhilarated by the news of Stella's pregnancy and by

her own handling of the situation with Stanley, Blanche follows Stella for

their girls' night out.

Scene 3 Summary

It's two-thirty a.m. the same night. Steve, Pablo, Mitch, and Stanley are

playing poker in the Kowalski's kitchen. Their patter goes back and forth,

heavy with testosterone. Stella and Blanche return and Stella makes in-

troductions. Blanche immediately determines something "superior to the

others" in Mitch; Mitch's awkwardness seems to indicate an attraction on

his part, as well.

Stella and Blanche share a sisterly chat in the back room while the poker

game continues. Stanley, drunk, hollers at them to be quiet. Blanche turns

on the radio, which again rouses Stanley's ire. The other men enjoy the

rhumba, but Stanley springs up and shuts off the radio. He and Blanche

stare each other down. Mitch skips the next hand and goes to the bathroom.

Waiting for Stella to finish, he and Blanche talk. Blanche is a little

drunk, too. They discuss Mitch's sick mother, the sincerity of sick and

sorrowful people, and the inscription on Mitch's cigarette case. Blanche

claims that she is actually younger than Stella. She asks Mitch to put a

Chinese lantern she has bought over the naked bulb. As they talk Stanley is

growing more annoyed at Mitch's absence. Stella leaves the bathroom and

Blanche impulsively turns the radio back on. Stanley leaps up, rushes to

the radio, and hurls it out the window.

Stella yells at Stanley and he begins to beat her. The men pull him off.

Blanche takes Stella and some clothes to Eunice's apartment upstairs.

Stanley goes limp and seems confused, but when the men try to force him

into the shower to sober him up he fights them off. They grab their

winnings and leave.

Stanley stumbles out of the bathroom, calling for Stella. He phones

upstairs, then phones again, before hurling the phone to the oor. Half-

dressed he stumbles out to the street and calls for her again and again:

"STELL- LAHHHHH!" Eunice gives him a piece of her mind, but to no avail.

Finally, Stella slips out of the apartment and down to where Stanley is.

They stare at each other and then rush together with "animal moans." He

falls to his knees, caresses her face and belly, then lifts her up and

carries her into their at.

Blanche emerges from Eunice's at, looking for Stella. She stops short at

the entrance to the downstairs at. Mitch returns and tells her not to

worry, that the two are crazy about each other. He offers her a cigarette.

She thanks him for his kindness.

Scene 4 Summary

Early the next morning, Stella lies serenely in the bedroom, her face

aglow. Blanche, who has not slept, enters the apartment. She demands to

know how Stella could go back and spend the night with Stanley after what

he did to her. Stella feels Blanche is making a big issue out of nothing.

Yet Blanche goes on about how she must figure out a way to get them both

out of this situation, how she recently ran into an old friend who struck

it rich in oil, and perhaps he would be able to help them. Stella pays

little attention to what Blanche says; she has no desire to leave. She says

that Blanche merely saw Stanley at his worst. Blanche feels she saw at his

most characteristic{and this is what terrifies her.

Blanche simply cannot understand how a woman raised in Belle Reve could

choose to live her life with a man who has "not one particle" of a

gentleman in him, about whom there is "something downright{bestial..."

Stella's reply is that "there are things that happen between a man and a

woman in the dark{that sort of make everything else seem{unimportant." This

is just desire, says Blanche, and not a basis for marriage.

A train approaches, and while it roars past Stanley enters the at unheard.

Not knowing that Stanley is listening, Blanche holds nothing back.

She describes him as common, an animal, ape-like, a primitive brute. Stella

listens coldly. Under cover of another passing train, Stanley slips out of

the apartment, then enters it noisily. Stella runs to Stanley and embraces

him fiercely. Stanley grins at Blanche.

Scene 5 Summary

It is mid-August. Stella and Blanche are in the bedroom. Blanche finishes

writing an utterly fabricated letter to the old friend she recently ran

into, then bursts into laughter. She reads from the letter to Stella,

breaking off when the noise of Steve and Eunice's fighting upstairs grows

too loud. Eunice storms off to a bar around the corner. Nursing a bruise on

his forehead, Steve follows her. Stanley enters the apartment in full

bowling regalia. He is rude to Blanche and insinuates some knowledge of her

past. Finally, he asks her if she knows a certain man. This man often

travels to Blanche's town, and claims she was often a client of a

disreputable hotel. Blanche denies it, insisting the man must have confused

her with someone else. Stanley says he'll have the man check on it. He

heads off to the bar, telling Stella to meet him there.

Blanche is shaken to the core by Stanley's remarks. Stella doesn't seem to

take much notice. Blanche demands to know what Stella has heard about her,

what people have been saying. Stella doesn't know what she's talking about.

Blanche admits she was not "so good" the last two years, as she was losing

Belle Reve. She quite lucidly describes herself as soft, dependent, reliant

on Chinese lanterns and light colors. She admits that she no longer has the

youth or beauty to glow in the soft light. Stella doesn't want to hear her

talk like this.

Stella brings Blanche a drink. She likes to wait on Blanche; it reminds her

of their childhood. Blanche becomes hysterical, promising to leave soon,

before Stanley throws her out. Stella calms her for a moment, but when she

accidentally spills her drink slightly on her skirt, Blanche begins to


She is shaking and tries to laugh it off. At last she admits that she is

nervous about her relationship with Mitch. She has been very prim and

proper with him; she wants his respect, but doesn't want him to lose

interest. She wants him very badly, needs him as a stabilizing force.

Stella assures her that it will happen. She kisses her older sister and

runs off to meet Stanley.

Blanche sits alone in the apartment and waits. A young man comes to the

door collecting for the newspaper. Blanche irts with him, offers him a

drink, and generally works her wiles. The young man is very nervous and

would like to leave. Blanche declares that he looks like an Arabian prince.

She kisses him on the lips then sends him on his way. "I've got to be

good," she says, "and keep my hands off children." A few moments later,

Mitch appears with a bunch of roses. She accepts them irtatiously while he


Scene 6 Summary

Two a.m. the same night. Blanche and Mitch appear. She is exhausted, he

seems a bit depressed. Mitch apologizes for not giving her much

entertainment this evening, but Blanche says it was her fault. She reveals

that she will be leaving soon. They discuss a goodnight kiss and the other

night by the lake when Mitch tried for a bit more "familiarity." Blanche

explains that a single girl must keep her urges under control or else she

is "lost." Perhaps he is used to woman who like to be lost on the first

date. Mitch says he likes her simply because she is difierent from anyone

he has ever met. Blanche laughs and invites him in for a nightcap.

Blanche lights a candle and prepares drinks. Mitch remains standing

awkwardly. He won't take his coat off because he's embarrassed about his

perspiration. They discuss Mitch's imposing physique, her slighter one, and

this leads to a brief and somewhat clumsy embrace. Blanche stops him,

claiming she has "old-fashioned ideals" (she rolls her eyes as she offers

this gem, but he cannot see her face). After an awkward silence, Mitch asks

where Stanley and Stella are, and why the four of them never go out


Blanche expresses her conviction that Stanley hates her. Mitch thinks that

Stanley simply doesn't understand her. Blanche knows it's more than that,

that he wants to destroy her.

Mitch asks Blanche how old she is. He has told his ailing mother about

Blanche, but could not tell her how old Blanche was. His mother is not long

for the world and wants to see him settled. Blanche says she understands

how he will miss his mother when she's gone. She understands what it is to

be lonely. She gives a revealing account of what happened with the tender

young man she married. She loved him terribly but somehow it didn't seem to

be enough to save him from whatever it was that tormented him. Then one day

she came home to find her young husband in bed with an older man who had

been his longtime friend. At first they all pretended nothing happened.

They went out to a casino together, the three of them. On the dance floor

she drunkenly confronted him, telling him he disgusted her. Then the boy

rushed out of the casino and everyone heard a shot. He killed himself.

Mitch comes to her and holds her, comforting her. "You need somebody. And I

need somebody, too," he says. "Could it be{you and me, Blanche?" They kiss,

even as she sobs. "Sometimes{there's God{so quickly," she says.

Scene 7 Summary

Late afternoon, mid-September. Stella is decorating for Blanche's birthday.

Stanley comes in. Blanche is in the bathroom, bathing, and Stanley mocks

her to Stella. He tells Stella to sit down and listen because he's got the

dirt on Blanche now. As Blanche, unconcerned, sings "It's Only a Paper

Moon," Stanley gleefully recounts to Stella how Blanche earned a notorious

reputation at the Flamingo hotel and was asked to leave (presumably for

immoral behavior unacceptable even by the standards of that establishment).

She came to be regarded as "nuts" by the town and was declared 'off-limits'

to soldiers at a nearby base. She was not given a leave of absence by her

school; she was kicked out for having a relationship with a seventeen-year-

old boy.

Stella defends her sister. She's not convinced this story is true{certainly

not all of it. Stanley tells Stella not to expect Mitch for the birthday

dinner. He has told Mitch all he heard, and there's no way Mitch will marry

her now.

Stanley has bought Blanche a birthday present: a one-way bus ticket back to

Laurel, Mississippi. He yells at Blanche to get out of the bathroom. She

emerges at last, in high spirits. But Stanley's face as he passes by gives

her a fright. And the dazed way that Stella responds to her chatter alerts

her that something is wrong. She asks Stella what has happened, but Stella

can only feebly lie that nothing has.

Scene 8 Summary

Three quarters of an hour later, the birthday dinner is winding down. The

place set for Mitch is empty. It has obviously been a strained meal.

Blanche tries to break the gloomy silence by asking Stanley to tell a

story. He declines. So Blanche tells one herself- -a lame joke involving a

priest and a swearing parrot. Stanley pointedly does not laugh. Instead, he

reaches across the table for a chop and eats it with his fingers. Stella

scolds him. He smashes his plate, declares that he is sick and tired of

being called "pig Polack disgusting vulgar greasy!" He is the king of this

house. He smashes his cup and saucer and storms out onto the porch. Blanche

again asks Stella what happened while she was taking a bath. What did

Stanley tell Stella about her? Nothing, Stella says, but she is clearly


Although Stella implores her not to, Blanche calls Mitch's house to find

out why he stood her up. Mitch is not home. Stella goes to Stanley out on

the porch. They embrace, and Stanley promises her things will be all right

again after the baby comes and Blanche leaves. Stella goes back inside and

lights the candles. Blanche and Stanley join her. Stanley's patent ill will

produces another tense exchange with Blanche. One of Stanley's bowling

buddies calls up. While he's on the phone, Stanley unnecessarily yells at

Blanche to be quiet. She tries her best to control her nerves. Stanley

returns to the table, and with a thin veneer of kindness offers Blanche a

birthday envelope. She is surprised and delighted|until she opens it and

Stanley declares its contents: a one-way ticket back to Laurel, Mississippi

on a Greyhound bus, leaving Tuesday.

Blanche tries to smile, tries to laugh, runs to the bedroom, and then to

the bathroom, clutching her throat and making gagging noises, as if

Stanley's cruelty has literally taken her breath away. Stanley, pleased

with himself and his just actions (considering, he says, "all I took off

her"), prepares to go bowling. But Stella demands to know why Stanley has

treated Blanche so callously. He reminds her that Stella thought he was

common when they first met, but that he took her off her pedestal and

things were wonderful until Blanche arrived. While he speaks, a sudden

change comes over Stella.

She slowly shufies from the bedroom to the kitchen, then quietly asks to be

taken to the hospital. Stanley is with her in an instant, speaking softly

as he leads her out the door.

Scene 9 Summary

Later the same evening, a scarlet-robed Blanche sits tensely on a bedroom

chair. On a nearby table are a bottle of liquor and a glass. We hear polka

music, but not from the radio: it's playing in her own head. She is

drinking, we are told in the stage directions, not to think about impending


Mitch appears in work clothes, unshaven, making no attempt to play the

gentleman caller. He rings the doorbell and startles Blanche. She asks who

it is, and when he replies, the polka music stops. She frantically scurries

about, applying powder to her face, stashing the liquor in a closet, before

letting him in with a cheerful reprimand. Mitch walks right past her

proffered lips into the apartment. Blanche is frightened but takes it in

stride. She continues in her light and airy mode, scolding him for his

appearance and forgiving him in the same breath. Mitch stares at her,

clearly a bit drunk. He asks her to turn off the fan; she does so. She

offers him a drink, but Mitch doesn't want Stanley's liquor. She backs off,

but the polka music begins again. It's the same tune that was played, she

says out loud, when Allen (her husband)...She breaks off, waiting for the

gunshot. It comes, and the music subsides. Mitch has no idea what she's

talking about.

Blanche goes to the closet and pretends to discover the bottle. She takes

her charade so far as to ask out loud what Southern Comfort is. Mitch does

not bite, but bides his time, getting up the nerve to say what he has come

to say. Blanche tells Mitch to take his foot off the bed, and goes on about

the liquor. Mitch again declines. Stanley has complained to him that

Blanche drinks all of his liquor. At last Blanche asks point blank what is

on his mind.

Mitch says it's dark in the room. He has never seen her in the light, never

in the afternoon. She has always made excuses on Sunday afternoons, only

gone out with him after six, and then never to well-lit places. He's never

had a good look at her. Mitch tears the paper lantern off the lightbulb. He

wants a dose of realism. "I don't want realism, I want magic," replies

Blanche. "I try to give that to people... I don't tell truth, I tell what

ought to be truth.

And if that is sinful, then let me be damned for it." She begs him not to

turn the light on. He turns it on. She lets out a cry. He turns it off.

Mitch is not so concerned about her age; what he can't stomach is the

garbage and excuses about her morals and old-fashioned ideals that he's

been forced to swallow all summer. Blanche tries to defend herself, but

Mitch has heard stories about her from three difierent sources and is

convinced. She breaks, and admits the truth through convulsive sobs and

shots of liquor.

She had many intimacies with strangers. She panicked after Allan's death,

did not know she what she was doing and eventually ended up in trouble with

the seventeen-year-old. She found hope when she met Mitch, but the past

caught up with her. "You lied to me, Blanche," is all Mitch can say. In her

heart she never lied to him, Blanche replies. Mitch is unmoved.

A blind Mexican woman comes around the corner with bunches of tin owers

used at Mexican funerals. "Flores. Flores para los muertos," the woman

intones. (Flowers. Flowers for the dead.) Blanche goes to the door, opens

it, sees and hears the woman (who calls to her and offers her owers), and

slams the door, terrified. The woman moves slowly down the street, calling.

We hear the polka tune again.

Blanche begins to speak as if she were thinking out loud. Her lines are

punctuated by the Mexican woman's calls. Her tortured soliloquy mentions

regrets, legacies, death, her dying parents, death and agony everywhere,

desire as the opposite of death, the soldiers from the nearby camp who

staggered drunkenly onto her lawn and called for her while her deaf mother

slept. The polka music fades. Wanting what he's been waiting for all

summer, Mitch walks up to her, places his hands on her waist and tries to

embrace her.

Blanche says he must marry her first. Mitch doesn't want to marry her; he

does not think she's fit to live in the same house as his mother. Blanche

orders him to leave. When he does not move, she threatens to scream 'Fire.'

He still does not leave, so she screams out the window. Mitch hurries out.

Scene 10 Summary

A few hours have elapsed since Mitch's departure. Blanche's trunk is out in

the middle of the bedroom. She has been packing, drinking, trying on

clothes and speaking to imaginary admirers. Stanley enters the apartment,

slams the door and gives a low whistle when he sees Blanche. Blanche asks

about her sister. The baby won't be born until tomorrow, says Stanley. It's

just the two of them at home tonight.

Stanley asks why Blanche is all dressed up. She tells him that she has just

received a telegram from an old admirer inviting her to join him on his

yacht in the Caribbean. It was the oil millionaire she met again in Miami.

Stanley plays along. In high spirits, he opens a bottle of beer on the

corner of the table and pours the foam on his head. He offers her a sip but

she declines.

He goes to the bedroom to find his special pajamas top in anticipation of

the good news from the hospital. Blanche keeps talking, feverishly working

herself up as she describes what a gentleman this man is and how he merely

wants the companionship of an intelligent, spirited, tender, cultured


She may be poor financially, but she is rich in these qualities. And she

has been foolishly lavishing these offerings on those who do not deserve

them{ as she puts it, casting her pearls before swine. Stanley's amicable

mood evaporates.

Blanche claims that she sent Mitch away after he repeated slanderous lies

that Stanley had told him. He came groveling back, with roses and

apologies, but in vain. She cannot forgive "deliberate cruelty," and

realistically the two of them are too difierent in attitude and upbringing

for it ever to work.

Stanley cuts in with a question that trips up her improvisation. Then he

launches an attack, tearing down her make-believe world point by point. She

can make no reply but, "Oh!" He finishes with a disdainful laugh and walks

through the bedroom on into the bathroom. Frightening shadows and re

ections appear in the room. Blanche goes to the phone and tries to make a

call to her "admirer." She does not know his number or his address. The

operator hangs up; Blanche leaves the phone off the hook and walks into the


The special efiects continue: inhuman voices, terrifying shadows. A strange

scene takes place on a sidewalk beyond the back wall of the rooms (which

has suddenly become transparent). A drunkard and a prostitute scufie until

a police whistle sounds and they disappear. Soon thereafter the Negro woman

comes around the corner ri ing through the prostitute's purse.

Blanche returns to the phone and whispers to the operator to connect her to

Western Union. She tries to send a telegraph: "In desperate, desperate

circumstances. Help me! Caught in a trap. Caught in{".... She breaks off

when Stanley emerges from the bathroom in his special pajamas. He stares at

her, grinning. Then crosses over to the phone and replaces it on the hook.

Still grinning, he steps between Blanche and the door. She asks him to move

and he takes one step to the side. She asks him to move further away but he

will not. The jungle voices well up again as he slowly advances towards

her. Blanche tells him to stay back but he continues towards her. She backs

away, grabs a bottle, and smashes the end of it on the table. He jumps at

her, grabs her arm when she swings at him, and forces her to drop the


"We've had this date from the beginning," he says. She sinks to her knees.

He picks her up and carries her to the bed.

Scene 11 Summary

A few weeks later. Stella is packing Blanche's belongings while Blanche

takes a bath. Stella has been crying. The men are assembled in the kitchen

playing poker. Of them, only Mitch does not seem to be in the usual card-

playing bull and bravado mood. Eunice comes downstairs and enters the


Eunice calls them callous and goes over to Stella. Stella tells Eunice she

is not sure she did the right thing. She told Blanche that they had

arranged for her to stay in the country, and Blanche seemed to think it had

to do with her millionaire admirer. Stella couldn't believe the story

Blanche told her about the rape and still continue her life with Stanley.

Eunice comforts her.

It was the only thing Stella could do, and she should never believe the

story. "Life has got to go on," Eunice says.

The men continue playing poker. Blanche emerges from the bathroom to the

strains of the by-now familiar waltz. Stella and Eunice are gentle and

complimenting; Blanche has a slightly unhinged vivacity. The sound of

Blanche's voice sends Mitch into a daydream until Stanley snaps him out of

it. Stanley's voice from the kitchen stuns Blanche. She remains still for a

few moments, then with a rising hysteria demands to know what is going on.

The women quiet and soothe her and the men restrain Stanley from


She is appeased for the moment, but anxious to leave. The other women

convince her to wait a moment yet. Blanche goes into a reverie, imagining

her death at sea from food poisoning with a handsome young ship's doctor at

her side.

The doctor and nurse arrive. Eunice goes to see who's at the door. Blanche

waits tensely, hoping that it is Shep Huntleigh, her millionaire savior.

Eunice returns and announces that someone is calling for Blanche. The waltz

begins again. Blanche and Stella pass through the kitchen and cross to the

door. The poker players stand as she passes, except for Mitch, who stares

at the table. When Blanche steps out onto the porch and sees the doctor,

and not Shep Huntleigh, she retreats to where Stella is standing, then

slips back into the apartment. Inside, Stanley steps up to block her way.

Blanche rushes around him, claiming she forgot something, as the weird re

ections and shadows return. The doctor sends the nurse in after her. What

follows is a wrenching capture scene, which Stella cannot bear to watch.

She rushes to the porch, where Eunice goes to comfort her. The nurse

succeeds in pinning Blanche. The doctor enters, and at Blanche's soft

request tells the nurse to release her. The doctor leads her out of the

bedroom, she holding onto his arm.

"Whoever you are," she says, "I have always depended on the kindness of

strangers." The doctor leads her through the kitchen as the poker players

look on. They head out the door and onto the porch. Stella, now crouched on

the porch in agony, calls out her sister's name. Blanche, allowing herself

to be led onward, does not turn to look at Stella. Doctor, nurse, and

Blanche turn the corner and disappear. Eunice brings the baby to Stella and

thrusts it into her arms, then goes to the kitchen to join the men. Stanley

goes out onto the porch and over to Stella, who sobs over her child. He

comforts her and begins to caress her. In the kitchen, Steve deals a new


© 2009