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The Snows of Kilimanjaro Summary, Ernest Hemingway

As the story opens, the speaker, later identified as Harry, is proclaiming that something is painless. It soon reveals
that Harry and his wife, Helen, are encamped somewhere near Mount Kilimanjaro, which, at nearly twenty thousand feet, is
Africas highest mountain. An epigraph at the beginning of the story, before the action is under way, describes the snowcapped mountain, mentioning that the name for its western summit is translated from the local Masai language as the House
of God.
Extensive dialogue at the beginning of the story reveals that the speakers, husband and wife, have a combative
relationship. Harry has ceased to be in love with Helen, although she adores him. In Harrys dialogue, one quickly detects a
deep-seated underlying anger and a contempt for not just Helen but all women. Indeed, Harry feels and expresses guilt
about the deterioration of his relationship with his wife, who has quite willingly put her considerable fortune at Harrys
disposal. The rub is that the comfortable life that Helen has provided seems to have robbed Harry of the motivation he needs
to write. Harry and Helen have left their superficial rich friends behind in Paris, where they are pursuing their
inconsequential lives. Harry toys with idea of writing about the idle rich, viewing himself as a sort of spy in their territory.
It is soon revealed that Harry is on his deathbed, suffering from gangrene that is moving rapidly from his lower
legs to other parts of his body. He and Helen, along with their African servant, Molo, are stranded in this remote part of
Tanganyika because an inept driver failed to check the oil in their truck, causing it to burn out a bearing and become
inoperable. Their only hope now is that a plane will land on their compound and fly Harry to a medical facility.
Harry has gangrene because he ignored a thorn prick to his knee some days earlier. As his wound festered and
became swollen, he treated it with a mild solution of carbolic acid, which proved to be too little too late. The gangrene kept
one step ahead of Harrys attempts to thwart its progress.
Throughout the story, Harry vacillates between consciousness and unconsciousness. His conscious periods become
shorter and shorter. Unconsciousness reveries of his past fill his mind and reveal a great deal about his past. The passages
during the unconscious state are printed in italics except for the one very near the end in which Harry hallucinates about the
plane coming to rescue him.
As it turns out, Harrys illusion of the plane is just that: an illusion. In the end, Helen has Harrys cot carried into
their tent. Before long, she tries to rouse him but cannot. She becomes aware that his breathing has stopped, just as a hyena,
a carnivore that feeds on dead animals, howls outside their tent.

THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea is the story of an epic struggle between an old, seasoned fisherman and the greatest catch
of his life. For eighty-four days, Santiago, an aged Cuban fisherman, has set out to sea and returned empty-handed. So
conspicuously unlucky is he that the parents of his young, devoted apprentice and friend, Manolin, have forced the boy to
leave the old man in order to fish in a more prosperous boat. Nevertheless, the boy continues to care for the old man upon
his return each night. He helps the old man tote his gear to his ramshackle hut, secures food for him, and discusses the latest
developments in American baseball, especially the trials of the old mans hero, Joe DiMaggio. Santiago is confident that his
unproductive streak will soon come to an end, and he resolves to sail out farther than usual the following day.
On the eighty-fifth day of his unlucky streak, Santiago does as promised, sailing his skiff far beyond the islands
shallow coastal waters and venturing into the Gulf Stream. He prepares his lines and drops them. At noon, a big fish, which
he knows is a marlin, takes the bait that Santiago has placed one hundred fathoms deep in the waters. The old man expertly
hooks the fish, but he cannot pull it in. Instead, the fish begins to pull the boat.
Unable to tie the line fast to the boat for fear the fish would snap a taut line, the old man bears the strain of the line
with his shoulders, back, and hands, ready to give slack should the marlin make a run. The fish pulls the boat all through the
day, through the night, through another day, and through another night. It swims steadily northwest until at last it tires and
swims east with the current. The entire time, Santiago endures constant pain from the fishing line. Whenever the fish lunges,

leaps, or makes a dash for freedom, the cord cuts Santiago badly. Although wounded and weary, the old man feels a deep
empathy and admiration for the marlin, his brother in suffering, strength, and resolve.
On the third day the fish tires, and Santiago, sleep-deprived, aching, and nearly delirious, manages to pull the
marlin in close enough to kill it with a harpoon thrust. Dead beside the skiff, the marlin is the largest Santiago has ever seen.
He lashes it to his boat, raises the small mast, and sets sail for home. While Santiago is excited by the price that the marlin
will bring at market, he is more concerned that the people who will eat the fish are unworthy of its greatness.
As Santiago sails on with the fish, the marlins blood leaves a trail in the water and attracts sharks. The first to
attack is a great mako shark, which Santiago manages to slay with the harpoon. In the struggle, the old man loses the
harpoon and lengths of valuable rope, which leaves him vulnerable to other shark attacks. The old man fights off the
successive vicious predators as best he can, stabbing at them with a crude spear he makes by lashing a knife to an oar, and
even clubbing them with the boats tiller. Although he kills several sharks, more and more appear, and by the time night
falls, Santiagos continued fight against the scavengers is useless. They devour the marlins precious meat, leaving only
skeleton, head, and tail. Santiago chastises himself for going out too far, and for sacrificing his great and worthy
opponent. He arrives home before daybreak, stumbles back to his shack, and sleeps very deeply.
The next morning, a crowd of amazed fishermen gathers around the skeletal carcass of the fish, which is still
lashed to the boat. Knowing nothing of the old mans struggle, tourists at a nearby caf observe the remains of the giant
marlin and mistake it for a shark. Manolin, who has been worried sick over the old mans absence, is moved to tears when
he finds Santiago safe in his bed. The boy fetches the old man some coffee and the daily papers with the baseball scores,
and watches him sleep. When the old man wakes, the two agree to fish as partners once more. The old man returns to sleep
and dreams his usual dream of lions at play on the beaches of Africa.
Santiago suffers terribly throughout The Old Man and the Sea. In the opening pages of the book, he has gone
eighty-four days without catching a fish and has become the laughingstock of his small village. He then endures a long and
grueling struggle with the marlin only to see his trophy catch destroyed by sharks. Yet, the destruction enables the old man
to undergo a remarkable transformation, and he wrests triumph and renewed life from his seeming defeat. After all, Santiago
is an old man whose physical existence is almost over, but the reader is assured that Santiago will persist through Manolin,
who, like a disciple, awaits the old mans teachings and will make use of those lessons long after his teacher has died. Thus,
Santiago manages, perhaps, the most miraculous feat of all: he finds a way to prolong his life after death.
Santiagos commitment to sailing out farther than any fisherman has before, to where the big fish promise to be,
testifies to the depth of his pride. Yet, it also shows his determination to change his luck. Later, after the sharks have
destroyed his prize marlin, Santiago chastises himself for his hubris (exaggerated pride), claiming that it has ruined both the
marlin and himself. True as this might be, it is only half the picture, for Santiagos pride also enables him to achieve his
most true and complete self. Furthermore, it helps him earn the deeper respect of the village fishermen and secures him the
prized companionship of the boyhe knows that he will never have to endure such an epic struggle again.
Santiagos pride is what enables him to endure, and it is perhaps endurance that matters most in Hemingways
conception of the worlda world in which death and destruction, as part of the natural order of things, are unavoidable.
Hemingway seems to believe that there are only two options: defeat or endurance until destruction; Santiago clearly chooses
the latter. His stoic determination is mythic, nearly Christ-like in proportion. For three days, he holds fast to the line that
links him to the fish, even though it cuts deeply into his palms, causes a crippling cramp in his left hand, and ruins his back.
This physical pain allows Santiago to forge a connection with the marlin that goes beyond the literal link of the line: his
bodily aches attest to the fact that he is well matched, that the fish is a worthy opponent, and that he himself, because he is
able to fight so hard, is a worthy fisherman. This connectedness to the world around him eventually elevates Santiago
beyond what would otherwise be his defeat. Like Christ, to whom Santiago is unashamedly compared at the end of the
novella, the old mans physical suffering leads to a more significant spiritual triumph.
Manolin is present only in the beginning and at the end of The Old Man and the Sea, but his presence is important
because Manolins devotion to Santiago highlights Santiagos value as a person and as a fisherman. Manolin demonstrates
his love for Santiago openly. He makes sure that the old man has food, blankets, and can rest without being bothered.
Despite Hemingways insistence that his characters were a real old man and a real boy, Manolins purity and singleness of

purpose elevate him to the level of a symbolic character. Manolins actions are not tainted by the confusion, ambivalence, or
willfulness that typify adolescence. Instead, he is a companion who feels nothing but love and devotion. Hemingway does
hint at the boys resentment for his father, whose wishes Manolin obeys by abandoning the old man after forty days without
catching a fish. This fact helps to establish the boy as a real human beinga person with conflicted loyalties who faces
difficult decisions. By the end of the book, however, the boy abandons his duty to his father, swearing that he will sail with
the old man regardless of the consequences. He stands, in the novellas final pages, as a symbol of uncompromised love and
fidelity. As the old mans apprentice, he also represents the life that will follow from death. His dedication to learning from
the old man ensures that Santiago will live on.
Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work.
The Honor in Struggle, Defeat & Death
From the very first paragraph, Santiago is characterized as someone struggling against defeat. He has gone eightyfour days without catching a fishhe will soon pass his own record of eighty-seven days. Almost as a reminder of
Santiagos struggle, the sail of his skiff resembles the flag of permanent defeat. But the old man refuses defeat at every
turn: he resolves to sail out beyond the other fishermen to where the biggest fish promise to be. He lands the marlin, tying
his record of eighty-seven days after a brutal three-day fight, and he continues to ward off sharks from stealing his prey,
even though he knows the battle is useless.
Because Santiago is pitted against the creatures of the sea, some readers choose to view the tale as a chronicle of
mans battle against the natural world, but the novella is, more accurately, the story of mans place within nature. Both
Santiago and the marlin display qualities of pride, honor, and bravery, and both are subject to the same eternal law: they
must kill or be killed. As Santiago reflects when he watches the weary warbler fly toward shore, where it will inevitably
meet the hawk, the world is filled with predators, and no living thing can escape the inevitable struggle that will lead to its
death. Santiago lives according to his own observation: man is not made for defeat . . . [a] man can be destroyed but not
defeated. In Hemingways portrait of the world, death is inevitable, but the best men (and animals) will nonetheless refuse
to give in to its power. Accordingly, man and fish will struggle to the death, just as hungry sharks will lay waste to an old
mans trophy catch.
The novel suggests that it is possible to transcend this natural law. In fact, the very inevitability of destruction
creates the terms that allow a worthy man or beast to transcend it. It is precisely through the effort to battle the inevitable
that a man can prove himself. Indeed, a man can prove this determination over and over through the worthiness of the
opponents he chooses to face. Santiago finds the marlin worthy of a fight, just as he once found the great negro of
Cienfuegos worthy. His admiration for these opponents brings love and respect into an equation with death, as their
destruction becomes a point of honor and bravery that confirms Santiagos heroic qualities. One might characterize the
equation as the working out of the statement Because I love you, I have to kill you. Alternately, one might draw a parallel
to the poet John Keats and his insistence that beauty can only be comprehended in the moment before death, as beauty bows
to destruction. Santiago, though destroyed at the end of the novella, is never defeated. Instead, he emerges as a hero.
Santiagos struggle does not enable him to change mans place in the world. Rather, it enables him to meet his most
dignified destiny.

Pride as the Source of Greatness & Determination

Many parallels exist between Santiago and the classic heroes of the ancient world. In addition to exhibiting terrific
strength, bravery, and moral certainty, those heroes usually possess a tragic flawa quality that, though admirable, leads to
their eventual downfall. If pride is Santiagos fatal flaw, he is keenly aware of it. After sharks have destroyed the marlin, the
old man apologizes again and again to his worthy opponent. He has ruined them both, he concedes, by sailing beyond the
usual boundaries of fishermen. Indeed, his last word on the subject comes when he asks himself the reason for his undoing
and decides, Nothing . . . I went out too far.

While it is certainly true that Santiagos eighty-four-day run of bad luck is an affront to his pride as a masterful
fisherman, and that his attempt to bear out his skills by sailing far into the gulf waters leads to disaster, Hemingway does not
condemn his protagonist for being full of pride. On the contrary, Santiago stands as proof that pride motivates men to
greatness. Because the old man acknowledges that he killed the mighty marlin largely out of pride, and because his capture
of the marlin leads in turn to his heroic transcendence of defeat, pride becomes the source of Santiagos greatest strength.
Without a ferocious sense of pride, that battle would never have been fought, or more likely, it would have been abandoned
before the end.
Santiagos pride also motivates his desire to transcend the destructive forces of nature. Throughout the novel, no
matter how baleful his circumstances become, the old man exhibits an unflagging determination to catch the marlin and
bring it to shore. When the first shark arrives, Santiagos resolve is mentioned twice in the space of just a few paragraphs.
First we are told that the old man was full of resolution but he had little hope. Then, sentences later, the narrator says, He
hit [the shark] without hope but with resolution. The old man meets every challenge with the same unwavering
determination: he is willing to die in order to bring in the marlin, and he is willing to die in order to battle the feeding
sharks. It is this conscious decision to act, to fight, to never give up that enables Santiago to avoid defeat. Although he
returns to Havana without the trophy of his long battle, he returns with the knowledge that he has acquitted himself proudly
and manfully. Hemingway seems to suggest that victory is not a prerequisite for honor. Instead, glory depends upon one
having the pride to see a struggle through to its end, regardless of the outcome. Even if the old man had returned with the
marlin intact, his moment of glory, like the marlins meat, would have been short-lived. The glory and honor Santiago
accrues comes not from his battle itself but from his pride and determination to fight.
Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, and literary devices that can help to develop and inform the texts major
Crucifixion Imagery
In order to suggest the profundity of the old mans sacrifice and the glory that derives from it, Hemingway
purposefully likens Santiago to Christ, who, according to Christian theology, gave his life for the greater glory of
humankind. Crucifixion imagery is the most noticeable way in which Hemingway creates the symbolic parallel between
Santiago and Christ. When Santiagos palms are first cut by his fishing line, the reader cannot help but think of Christ
suffering his stigmata. Later, when the sharks arrive, Hemingway portrays the old man as a crucified martyr, saying that he
makes a noise similar to that of a man having nails driven through his hands. Furthermore, the image of the old man
struggling up the hill with his mast across his shoulders recalls Christs march toward Calvary. Even the position in which
Santiago collapses on his bedface down with his arms out straight and the palms of his hands upbrings to mind the
image of Christ suffering on the cross. Hemingway employs these images in the final pages of the novella in order to link
Santiago to Christ, who exemplified transcendence by turning loss into gain, defeat into triumph, and even death into
renewed life.
Life from Death
Death is the unavoidable force in the novella, the one fact that no living creature can escape. But death,
Hemingway suggests, is never an end in itself: in death there is always the possibility of the most vigorous life. The reader
notes that as Santiago slays the marlin, not only is the old man reinvigorated by the battle, but the fish also comes alive
with his death in him. Life, the possibility of renewal, necessarily follows on the heels of death.
Whereas the marlins death hints at a type of physical reanimation, death leads to life in less literal ways at other points in
the novella. The books crucifixion imagery emphasizes the cyclical connection between life and death, as does Santiagos
battle with the marlin. His success at bringing the marlin in earns him the awed respect of the fishermen who once mocked
him, and secures him the companionship of Manolin, the apprentice who will carry on Santiagos teachings long after the
old man has died.

The Lions on the Beach

Santiago dreams his pleasant dream of the lions at play on the beaches of Africa three times. The first time is the
night before he departs on his three-day fishing expedition, the second occurs when he sleeps on the boat for a few hours in
the middle of his struggle with the marlin, and the third takes place at the very end of the book. In fact, the sober promise of
the triumph and regeneration with which the novella closes is supported by the final image of the lions. Because Santiago
associates the lions with his youth, the dream suggests the circular nature of life. Additionally, because Santiago imagines
the lions, fierce predators, playing, his dream suggests a harmony between the opposing forceslife and death, love and
hate, destruction and regenerationof nature.

The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber Summary, Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway introduces the three principal characters, Francis Macomber, his wife Margot, and their safari guide
Richard Wilson, over cocktails in the afternoon on the African plain following a morning of hunting. Macomber and his
wife are wealthy Americans hoping to revitalize their sometimes-foundering marriage with a romantic African safari and
Wilson is a jaded Englishman who runs safaris for wealthy tourists for a living. As the three drink gimlets, they dance
around the topic of Macombers display of cowardice earlier that day as he ran away from a wounded lion and left Wilson
to shoot it.
As Macomber becomes apologetic toward Wilson, Margot loses her composure and runs off to cry out of shame on
her husbands behalf. Macomber expresses his embarrassment to Wilson once more and asks Wilson not to mention his
cowardice to mutual acquaintances. This is too much for Wilson, who insults Macomber in an attempt to estrange himself
from husband and wife and set up an atmosphere of professional coolness for the remainder of the safari. Macomber is too
friendly, however, and Wilson ends up both liking and pitying him.
Margot returns to the table and begins a campaign of bitchery against her husband, referring obliquely and
ironically to the topics of fear, lions, and hunting both to needle Macomber and impress Wilson. Wilsons sympathy for
Macomber deepens.
In the late afternoon, Macomber and Wilson go off together and shoot impala while Margot stays behind in camp
looking, as Wilson puts it, like an English rose (though she is American). Macomber successfully shoots an impala.
That night after dinner, Macomber lies in his bunk and meditates on his loss of confidence and the cowardice that
replaced his self-assurance. He relives the incident beginning with his attempt at sleep 24 hours earlier, which was when he
first heard the roaring of the lion and became afraid of it. The day of the incident, he discussed shooting the lion with
Wilson over breakfast, then the three drove off in a car to find it. Once it appeared, Wilson encouraged Macomber to get out
and shoot it, which he did, alone, after hesitating and missing a good shot. Gut-shot, the lion slunk into the bush and Wilson
announced they were going in after it to finish it off. Macomber, terrified but unable to appear so, accompanied Wilson into
the bush and promptly ran when the wounded lion leaped at him. Wilson shot it and Margot witnessed the whole incident
from the car. When the men return to the car, Margot kisses Wilson.
Macomber also meditates on the fact that his marriage had been on the rocks before but that he was sure his wife
would not leave him because he was too rich. He was equally sure he would never leave her because she was too beautiful.
He then falls asleep, waking to find his wife gone. After two hours, Margot returns to the tent and it becomes clear that she
has slept with Wilson. She refuses to discuss the matter with Macomber.
The next morning, the atmosphere is strained. Wilson absolves himself of blame by mentally rubbishing Macomber
and explaining to the reader that he sleeps with many of the wives of his clients, who feel that they are not getting their

moneys worth unless they share his cot at some point during the expedition. Presently, husband, wife, and guide start off in
the car in search of buffalo. They find three and chase them in their car. Macomber and Wilson fire a volley of shots and
bring down all three. The chase and the shootings are fast-paced and exciting, and leave Macomber with a sense of elation
and a new confidence, which Wilson likens to a coming of age. Margot is clearly uneasy about this development, which
seems to foreshadow a power shift in her relationship with her husband.
One of the gun-bearers then comes limping up to the car to announce that the first buffalo Macomber shot was not
killed but wounded, and has crawled off into the brush. The car is driven back to the shooting site, and Macomber and
Wilson walk into the brush in search of the buffalo, which charges Macomber. Macomber stands his ground in front of the
charging animal and both he and Wilson shoot it. As it is about to hit Macomber, Margot fires from the car, shooting
Macomber in the back of the head and killing him.
Wilson sarcastically assures Margot that she will not be convicted of her husbands murder, though he says
Macomber would have left you too. Margot is hysterical, and it is left unclear whether she hit her husband accidentally or
is a cold-blooded murderess.

Hemingways themes in this story are masculinity and its foil, cowardice, and the coming of age that is possible
through exposure to nature and by overcoming the challenges of the great outdoors. Francis Macomber is described as a
handsome man who is good at court games and had a number of big-game fishing records, and whose safari clothes are,
significantly, new. He is a typical international jet setter who lives in a suburban or perhaps big-city setting and has had no
real exposure to a raw, unadulterated natural environment, though he is considered athletic. As such, Hemingway portrays
him as weak, subservient to his wife, cowardly and frustrated. Once he conquers his fears and guns down three buffalo, he
becomes empowered, emboldened, and elated. By conquering nature, he has become a man. As Robert Wilson puts it, It
had taken a strange chance of hunting, a sudden precipitation into action without worrying beforehand, to bring this about
with MacomberFear gone like an operation. Something else grew in its place. Main thing a man had. Made him into a
man. Women knew it too. No bloody fear.
Hemingway was a great believer in the power of nature to improve ones quality of life. He was a lifelong
outdoorsman; he went hunting, fishing, camping, and boating in places as diverse as Europe, the Caribbean, the United
States, and Africa. In fact, he wrote this short story following a 10-week safari in East Africa. This story summarizes the
importance Hemingway placed on outdoor activities, especially for men. The character of Macomber comes into his own
masculinity through a few seconds of shooting buffalo; the activity of hunting not only provides entertainment, excitement,
and physical fitness, but it completely transforms his character and revolutionizes his relationships with others.
Hemingways masculine ideal in this story seems to be Wilson, the white hunter who lives, works, shoots, and
kills in the great outdoors, and whose stock-in-trade is ruggedness and physical courage. Margot and the reader are invited
to compare Macomber to Wilson, and certainly, Wilson comes out on top in that comparison. However, at the end of the
story Wilson breaks the code he purports to live by as he hunts down buffalo in a car, a certainly unsportsmanlike, possibly
cowardly, and indisputably illegal act. Wilson may be a paragon of manly virtues after the Hemingway school of
masculinity, but he is by no means perfect.
Macomber emphasizes masculinity not only by contrast to cowardice but also to femininity, specifically through
the character of Margot, who is central to the storys plot. Hemingways treatment of women in his fiction has long been,
and continues to be, the subject of debate among critics. The accepted wisdom is that Hemingway was a chauvinist and
possibly a misogynist; women in his stories are obstacles to their male counterparts rather than positive contributors to the
action. Many critics have challenged this view, arguing that Hemingways portrayal of women is more nuanced and his
general attitude more complex than the traditional view suggests.

There is little debate, however, that Margot Macomber is one of Hemingways bitch goddess characters; she is
grasping, cruel, contemptible, unfaithful, opportunistic, and possibly murderous. In general, Hemingway treats Margot as a
necessary evil in this story, as an inconvenient but essential component of the existence of his male characters. Wilson calls
women a nuisance on safari, and indeed, Margots only function in this story is to drive Wilson and Macomber apart in
spite of their often-mutual desire to be friendly or at least cordial with each other. In addition, Wilson makes a number of
sweeping and unflattering generalizations about American women of the jet set using Margot as a case study. In spite of his
attraction to her, he calls her enameled in that American female cruelty and refers to her sarcasm at Macombers expense
after the lion incident damn terrorism. Margot is portrayed as a thorough harpy; her only redeeming quality appears to be
her beauty, as Wilson recognizes the morning after he sleeps with her. As for Macomber, he considers Margots beauty to be
the only thing that gives her value; it is the only reason he married her and the only reason he will never leave her. He
recognizes that His wife had been a great beauty and she was still a great beauty in Africa, but she was not a great enough
beauty any more at home to be able to leave him and better herself and she knew it and he knew it. Margots beauty is her
only stock-in-trade.
The lingering question of the story, of course, is whether Margot felt threatened enough by Macombers
emancipation to murder him at the end, or whether she was merely trying to kill the buffalo. Scholars have come down on
both sides of the question. The traditional reading of the story teaches that Margot is a thoroughly grasping and cruel
character who shoots to kill, but more revisionist interpretations point out that, when she pulls the trigger, it is unnecessary
for her to be shooting to kill her husband because the buffalo will run him down in a few seconds anyway. In addition, the
accusations of murder that Wilson levels at her may be motivated by a desire to blackmail her into silence about the fact that
he hunted the buffalo from a car, an illegal practice. According to many scholars, Hemingway himself used to hint that
Macombers death was murder.
Another lingering question among Hemingway scholars is whether Macomber and Margot are modeled on F. Scott
Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda. Fitzgerald was a friend-turned-bitter-rival of Hemingways and some critics argue that
Hemingway created Macomber as an incarnation of all the qualities Hemingway most disliked in his nemesis. Hemingway
certainly mentioned Fitzgerald by name in some of his other stories. Proponents of this theory point to the fact that
Hemingway chose to name Macomber Francis, which was also Fitzgeralds first name. However, critics point out that this
choice was more likely a reference to Francis Feeble, a character in Shakespeares play Henry IV who served as the original
speaker of the quotation Wilson offers about death toward the end of the story.
The narration of this story is in the third person with an omniscient narrator; Hemingway tells the story from the
points of view of Macomber, Wilson, Margot and the lion from which Macomber flees. As the plot is driven by
interpersonal relationships, this technique is effective at revealing each characters motivations and the reasons for their
behavior. The points of view most often adopted by the narrator are Macombers and Wilsons, a trend that is consistent
with Hemingways marginalization of Margot.
Two literary techniques are in play throughout the story that enliven the action and embellish Hemingways
otherwise minimal descriptive passages. The first is onomatopoeia, and is best exemplified by whunk, the noise
Macombers bullet makes as it hits the lion (p. 22, 33), and carawong, the noise Wilsons high-velocity big gun makes
as it fires at game (p. 26, 34). Hemingways usage of these terms helps the reader imagine the noises and brutality of the
The second technique Hemingway employs is simile and metaphor. The most notable example occurs in Wilsons
thoughts when Macomber suggests they leave the wounded lion: Robert Wilson, whose entire occupation had been with
the lion and the problem he presented, and who had not been thinking about Macomber except to note that he was rather
windy, suddenly felt as though he had opened the wrong door in a hotel and seen something shameful (p. 24). This simile
demonstrates Wilsons shock at hearing Macomber voice such cowardly sentiments; Macomber would rather leave the lion
to suffer or risk someone else running into the lion and possibly being killed than face up to hunting it down and finishing
what he started.

One of the most prominent metaphors in the story is soon after this passage and describes the appearance of the
gun-bearers who have to accompany Macomber and Wilson into the brush to search for the wounded lion: [Wilson] spoke
in Swahili to the two gun-bearers who looked the picture of gloom (p. 25).
The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber is a story about one mans coming of age with the help of the
African flatlands, a rifle, and a friendship with another man, and about how his emancipation was possibly forestalled by a
selfish wife.

THE GREAT GATSBY, F. Scott Fitzgerald

Nick Carraway, a young man from Minnesota, moves to New York in the summer of 1922 to learn about the bond
business. He rents a house in the West Egg district of Long Island, a wealthy but unfashionable area populated by the new
rich, a group who have made their fortunes too recently to have established social connections and who are prone to garish
displays of wealth. Nicks next-door neighbor in West Egg is a mysterious man named Jay Gatsby, who lives in a gigantic
Gothic mansion and throws extravagant parties every Saturday night.
Nick is unlike the other inhabitants of West Egghe was educated at Yale and has social connections in East Egg,
a fashionable area of Long Island home to the established upper class. Nick drives out to East Egg one evening for dinner
with his cousin, Daisy Buchanan, and her husband, Tom, an erstwhile classmate of Nicks at Yale. Daisy and Tom introduce
Nick to Jordan Baker, a beautiful, cynical young woman with whom Nick begins a romantic relationship. Nick also learns a
bit about Daisy and Toms marriage: Jordan tells him that Tom has a lover, Myrtle Wilson, who lives in the valley of ashes,
a gray industrial dumping ground between West Egg and New York City. Not long after this revelation, Nick travels to New
York City with Tom and Myrtle. At a vulgar, gaudy party in the apartment that Tom keeps for the affair, Myrtle begins to
taunt Tom about Daisy, and Tom responds by breaking her nose.
As the summer progresses, Nick eventually garners an invitation to one of Gatsbys legendary parties. He
encounters Jordan Baker at the party, and they meet Gatsby himself, a surprisingly young man who affects an English
accent, has a remarkable smile, and calls everyone old sport. Gatsby asks to speak to Jordan alone, and, through Jordan,
Nick later learns more about his mysterious neighbor. Gatsby tells Jordan that he knew Daisy in Louisville in 1917 and is
deeply in love with her. He spends many nights staring at the green light at the end of her dock, across the bay from his
mansion. Gatsbys extravagant lifestyle and wild parties are simply an attempt to impress Daisy. Gatsby now wants Nick to
arrange a reunion between himself and Daisy, but he is afraid that Daisy will refuse to see him if she knows that he still
loves her. Nick invites Daisy to have tea at his house, without telling her that Gatsby will also be there. After an initially
awkward reunion, Gatsby and Daisy reestablish their connection. Their love rekindled, they begin an affair.
After a short time, Tom grows increasingly suspicious of his wifes relationship with Gatsby. At a luncheon at the
Buchanans house, Gatsby stares at Daisy with such undisguised passion that Tom realizes Gatsby is in love with her.
Though Tom is himself involved in an extramarital affair, he is deeply outraged by the thought that his wife could be
unfaithful to him. He forces the group to drive into New York City, where he confronts Gatsby in a suite at the Plaza Hotel.
Tom asserts that he and Daisy have a history that Gatsby could never understand, and he announces to his wife that Gatsby
is a criminalhis fortune comes from bootlegging alcohol and other illegal activities. Daisy realizes that her allegiance is to
Tom, and Tom contemptuously sends her back to East Egg with Gatsby, attempting to prove that Gatsby cannot hurt him.
When Nick, Jordan, and Tom drive through the valley of ashes, however, they discover that Gatsbys car has struck
and killed Myrtle, Toms lover. They rush back to Long Island, where Nick learns from Gatsby that Daisy was driving the
car when it struck Myrtle, but that Gatsby intends to take the blame. The next day, Tom tells Myrtles husband, George, that
Gatsby was the driver of the car. George, who has leapt to the conclusion that the driver of the car that killed Myrtle must
have been her lover, finds Gatsby in the pool at his mansion and shoots him dead. He then fatally shoots himself.

Nick stages a small funeral for Gatsby, ends his relationship with Jordan, and moves back to the Midwest to escape
the disgust he feels for the people surrounding Gatsbys life and for the emptiness and moral decay of life among the
wealthy on the East Coast. Nick reflects that just as Gatsbys dream of Daisy was corrupted by money and dishonesty, the
American dream of happiness and individualism has disintegrated into the mere pursuit of wealth. Though Gatsbys power
to transform his dreams into reality is what makes him great, Nick reflects that the era of dreamingboth Gatsbys dream
and the American dreamis over.


The Decline of the American Dream in the 1920s

On the surface, The Great Gatsby is a story of the thwarted love between a man and a woman. The main theme of
the novel, however, encompasses a much larger, less romantic scope. Though all of its action takes place over a mere few
months during the summer of 1922 and is set in a circumscribed geographical area in the vicinity of Long Island, New York,
The Great Gatsby is a highly symbolic meditation on 1920s America as a whole, in particular the disintegration of the
American dream in an era of unprecedented prosperity and material excess.
Fitzgerald portrays the 1920s as an era of decayed social and moral values, evidenced in its overarching cynicism,
greed, and empty pursuit of pleasure. The reckless jubilance that led to decadent parties and wild jazz musicepitomized in
The Great Gatsby by the opulent parties that Gatsby throws every Saturday nightresulted ultimately in the corruption of
the American dream, as the unrestrained desire for money and pleasure surpassed more noble goals. When World War I
ended in 1918, the generation of young Americans who had fought the war became intensely disillusioned, as the brutal
carnage that they had just faced made the Victorian social morality of early-twentieth-century America seem like stuffy,
empty hypocrisy. The dizzying rise of the stock market in the aftermath of the war led to a sudden, sustained increase in the
national wealth and a newfound materialism, as people began to spend and consume at unprecedented levels. A person from
any social background could, potentially, make a fortune, but the American aristocracyfamilies with old wealthscorned
the newly rich industrialists and speculators. Additionally, the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1919, which banned
the sale of alcohol, created a thriving underworld designed to satisfy the massive demand for bootleg liquor among rich and
poor alike.
Fitzgerald positions the characters of The Great Gatsby as emblems of these social trends. Nick and Gatsby, both of
whom fought in World War I, exhibit the newfound cosmopolitanism and cynicism that resulted from the war. The various
social climbers and ambitious speculators who attend Gatsbys parties evidence the greedy scramble for wealth. The clash
between old money and new money manifests itself in the novels symbolic geography: East Egg represents the
established aristocracy, West Egg the self-made rich. Meyer Wolfshiem and Gatsbys fortune symbolize the rise of
organized crime and bootlegging.
As Fitzgerald saw it (and as Nick explains in Chapter 9), the American dream was originally about discovery,
individualism, and the pursuit of happiness. In the 1920s depicted in the novel, however, easy money and relaxed social
values have corrupted this dream, especially on the East Coast. The main plotline of the novel reflects this assessment, as
Gatsbys dream of loving Daisy is ruined by the difference in their respective social statuses, his resorting to crime to make
enough money to impress her, and the rampant materialism that characterizes her lifestyle. Additionally, places and objects
in The Great Gatsby have meaning only because characters instill them with meaning: the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg

best exemplify this idea. In Nicks mind, the ability to create meaningful symbols constitutes a central component of the
American dream, as early Americans invested their new nation with their own ideals and values.
Nick compares the green bulk of America rising from the ocean to the green light at the end of Daisys dock. Just
as Americans have given America meaning through their dreams for their own lives, Gatsby instills Daisy with a kind of
idealized perfection that she neither deserves nor possesses. Gatsbys dream is ruined by the unworthiness of its object, just
as the American dream in the 1920s is ruined by the unworthiness of its objectmoney and pleasure. Like 1920s Americans
in general, fruitlessly seeking a bygone era in which their dreams had value, Gatsby longs to re-create a vanished pasthis
time in Louisville with Daisybut is incapable of doing so. When his dream crumbles, all that is left for Gatsby to do is
die; all Nick can do is move back to Minnesota, where American values have not decayed.

The Hollowness of the Upper Class

One of the major topics explored in The Great Gatsby is the sociology of wealth, specifically, how the newly
minted millionaires of the 1920s differ from and relate to the old aristocracy of the countrys richest families. In the novel,
West Egg and its denizens represent the newly rich, while East Egg and its denizens, especially Daisy and Tom, represent
the old aristocracy. Fitzgerald portrays the newly rich as being vulgar, gaudy, ostentatious, and lacking in social graces and
taste. Gatsby, for example, lives in a monstrously ornate mansion, wears a pink suit, drives a Rolls-Royce, and does not pick
up on subtle social signals, such as the insincerity of the Sloanes invitation to lunch. In contrast, the old aristocracy
possesses grace, taste, subtlety, and elegance, epitomized by the Buchanans tasteful home and the flowing white dresses of
Daisy and Jordan Baker.
What the old aristocracy possesses in taste, however, it seems to lack in heart, as the East Eggers prove themselves
careless, inconsiderate bullies who are so used to moneys ability to ease their minds that they never worry about hurting
others. The Buchanans exemplify this stereotype when, at the end of the novel, they simply move to a new house far away
rather than condescend to attend Gatsbys funeral. Gatsby, on the other hand, whose recent wealth derives from criminal
activity, has a sincere and loyal heart, remaining outside Daisys window until four in the morning in Chapter 7 simply to
make sure that Tom does not hurt her. Ironically, Gatsbys good qualities (loyalty and love) lead to his death, as he takes the
blame for killing Myrtle rather than letting Daisy be punished, and the Buchanans bad qualities (fickleness and selfishness)
allow them to remove themselves from the tragedy not only physically but psychologically.

Geography. Throughout the novel, places and settings epitomize the various aspects of the 1920s American
society that Fitzgerald depicts. East Egg represents the old aristocracy, West Egg the newly rich, the valley of ashes the
moral and social decay of America, and New York City the uninhibited, amoral quest for money and pleasure. Additionally,
the East is connected to the moral decay and social cynicism of New York, while the West (including Midwestern and
northern areas such as Minnesota) is connected to more traditional social values and ideals. Nicks analysis in Chapter 9 of
the story he has related reveals his sensitivity to this dichotomy: though it is set in the East, the story is really one of the
West, as it tells how people originally from west of the Appalachians (as all of the main characters are) react to the pace and
style of life on the East Coast.

Weather. As in much of Shakespeares work, the weather in The Great Gatsby unfailingly matches the emotional
and narrative tone of the story. Gatsby and Daisys reunion begins amid a pouring rain, proving awkward and melancholy;
their love reawakens just as the sun begins to come out. Gatsbys climactic confrontation with Tom occurs on the hottest day
of the summer, under the scorching sun (like the fatal encounter between Mercutio and Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet). Wilson
kills Gatsby on the first day of autumn, as Gatsby floats in his pool despite a palpable chill in the aira symbolic attempt to
stop time and restore his relationship with Daisy to the way it was five years before, in 1917.

The Green Light. Situated at the end of Daisys East Egg dock and barely visible from Gatsbys West Egg lawn,
the green light represents Gatsbys hopes and dreams for the future. Gatsby associates it with Daisy, and in Chapter 1 he
reaches toward it in the darkness as a guiding light to lead him to his goal. Because Gatsbys quest for Daisy is broadly
associated with the American dream, the green light also symbolizes that more generalized ideal. In Chapter 9, Nick
compares the green light to how America, rising out of the ocean, must have looked to early settlers of the new nation.

The Valley of Ashes First introduced in Chapter 2, the valley of ashes between West Egg and New York City
consists of a long stretch of desolate land created by the dumping of industrial ashes. It represents the moral and social
decay that results from the uninhibited pursuit of wealth, as the rich indulge themselves with regard for nothing but their
own pleasure. The valley of ashes also symbolizes the plight of the poor, like George Wilson, who live among the dirty
ashes and lose their vitality as a result.

The Eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg. The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg are a pair of fading, bespectacled eyes
painted on an old advertising billboard over the valley of ashes. They may represent God staring down upon and judging
American society as a moral wasteland, though the novel never makes this point explicitly. Instead, throughout the novel,
Fitzgerald suggests that symbols only have meaning because characters instill them with meaning. The connection between
the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg and God exists only in George Wilsons grief-stricken mind. This lack of concrete
significance contributes to the unsettling nature of the image. Thus, the eyes also come to represent the essential
meaninglessness of the world and the arbitrariness of the mental process by which people invest objects with meaning. Nick
explores these ideas in Chapter 8, when he imagines Gatsbys final thoughts as a depressed consideration of the emptiness
of symbols and dreams.

Jay Gatsby
The title character of The Great Gatsby is a young man, around thirty years old, who rose from an impoverished
childhood in rural North Dakota to become fabulously wealthy. However, he achieved this lofty goal by participating in
organized crime, including distributing illegal alcohol and trading in stolen securities. From his early youth, Gatsby
despised poverty and longed for wealth and sophisticationhe dropped out of St. Olafs College after only two weeks
because he could not bear the janitorial job with which he was paying his tuition. Though Gatsby has always wanted to be
rich, his main motivation in acquiring his fortune was his love for Daisy Buchanan, whom he met as a young military
officer in Louisville before leaving to fight in World War I in 1917. Gatsby immediately fell in love with Daisys aura of
luxury, grace, and charm, and lied to her about his own background in order to convince her that he was good enough for
her. Daisy promised to wait for him when he left for the war, but married Tom Buchanan in 1919, while Gatsby was

studying at Oxford after the war in an attempt to gain an education. From that moment on, Gatsby dedicated himself to
winning Daisy back, and his acquisition of millions of dollars, his purchase of a gaudy mansion on West Egg, and his lavish
weekly parties are all merely means to that end.
Fitzgerald delays the introduction of most of this information until fairly late in the novel. Gatsbys reputation
precedes himGatsby himself does not appear in a speaking role until Chapter 3. Fitzgerald initially presents Gatsby as the
aloof, enigmatic host of the unbelievably opulent parties thrown every week at his mansion. He appears surrounded by
spectacular luxury, courted by powerful men and beautiful women. He is the subject of a whirlwind of gossip throughout
New York and is already a kind of legendary celebrity before he is ever introduced to the reader. Fitzgerald propels the
novel forward through the early chapters by shrouding Gatsbys background and the source of his wealth in mystery (the
reader learns about Gatsbys childhood in Chapter 6 and receives definitive proof of his criminal dealings in Chapter 7). As
a result, the readers first, distant impressions of Gatsby strike quite a different note from that of the lovesick, naive young
man who emerges during the later part of the novel.
Fitzgerald uses this technique of delayed character revelation to emphasize the theatrical quality of Gatsbys approach to
life, which is an important part of his personality. Gatsby has literally created his own character, even changing his name
from James Gatz to Jay Gatsby to represent his reinvention of himself. As his relentless quest for Daisy demonstrates,
Gatsby has an extraordinary ability to transform his hopes and dreams into reality; at the beginning of the novel, he appears
to the reader just as he desires to appear to the world. This talent for self-invention is what gives Gatsby his quality of
greatness: indeed, the title The Great Gatsby is reminiscent of billings for such vaudeville magicians as The Great
Houdini and The Great Blackstone, suggesting that the persona of Jay Gatsby is a masterful illusion.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us.
As the novel progresses and Fitzgerald deconstructs Gatsbys self-presentation, Gatsby reveals himself to be an
innocent, hopeful young man who stakes everything on his dreams, not realizing that his dreams are unworthy of him.
Gatsby invests Daisy with an idealistic perfection that she cannot possibly attain in reality and pursues her with a passionate
zeal that blinds him to her limitations. His dream of her disintegrates, revealing the corruption that wealth causes and the
unworthiness of the goal, much in the way Fitzgerald sees the American dream crumbling in the 1920s, as Americas
powerful optimism, vitality, and individualism become subordinated to the amoral pursuit of wealth.
Gatsby is contrasted most consistently with Nick. Critics point out that the former, passionate and active, and the
latter, sober and reflective, seem to represent two sides of Fitzgeralds personality. Additionally, whereas Tom is a coldhearted, aristocratic bully, Gatsby is a loyal and good-hearted man. Though his lifestyle and attitude differ greatly from
those of George Wilson, Gatsby and Wilson share the fact that they both lose their love interest to Tom.
Nick Carraway
If Gatsby represents one part of Fitzgeralds personality, the flashy celebrity who pursued and glorified wealth in
order to impress the woman he loved, then Nick represents another part: the quiet, reflective Midwesterner adrift in the lurid
East. A young man (he turns thirty during the course of the novel) from Minnesota, Nick travels to New York in 1922 to
learn the bond business. He lives in the West Egg district of Long Island, next door to Gatsby. Nick is also Daisys cousin,
which enables him to observe and assist the resurgent love affair between Daisy and Gatsby. As a result of his relationship
to these two characters, Nick is the perfect choice to narrate the novel, which functions as a personal memoir of his
experiences with Gatsby in the summer of 1922.
Nick is also well suited to narrating The Great Gatsby because of his temperament. As he tells the reader in
Chapter 1, he is tolerant, open-minded, quiet, and a good listener, and, as a result, others tend to talk to him and tell him
their secrets. Gatsby, in particular, comes to trust him and treat him as a confidant. Nick generally assumes a secondary role
throughout the novel, preferring to describe and comment on events rather than dominate the action. Often, however, he
functions as Fitzgeralds voice, as in his extended meditation on time and the American dream at the end of Chapter 9.

Insofar as Nick plays a role inside the narrative, he evidences a strongly mixed reaction to life on the East Coast,
one that creates a powerful internal conflict that he does not resolve until the end of the book. On the one hand, Nick is
attracted to the fast-paced, fun-driven lifestyle of New York. On the other hand, he finds that lifestyle grotesque and
damaging. This inner conflict is symbolized throughout the book by Nicks romantic affair with Jordan Baker. He is
attracted to her vivacity and her sophistication just as he is repelled by her dishonesty and her lack of consideration for other
Nick states that there is a quality of distortion to life in New York, and this lifestyle makes him lose his
equilibrium, especially early in the novel, as when he gets drunk at Gatsbys party in Chapter 2. After witnessing the
unraveling of Gatsbys dream and presiding over the appalling spectacle of Gatsbys funeral, Nick realizes that the fast life
of revelry on the East Coast is a cover for the terrifying moral emptiness that the valley of ashes symbolizes. Having gained
the maturity that this insight demonstrates, he returns to Minnesota in search of a quieter life structured by more traditional
moral values.
Daisy Buchanan
Partially based on Fitzgeralds wife, Zelda, Daisy is a beautiful young woman from Louisville, Kentucky. She is
Nicks cousin and the object of Gatsbys love. As a young debutante in Louisville, Daisy was extremely popular among the
military officers stationed near her home, including Jay Gatsby. Gatsby lied about his background to Daisy, claiming to be
from a wealthy family in order to convince her that he was worthy of her. Eventually, Gatsby won Daisys heart, and they
made love before Gatsby left to fight in the war. Daisy promised to wait for Gatsby, but in 1919 she chose instead to marry
Tom Buchanan, a young man from a solid, aristocratic family who could promise her a wealthy lifestyle and who had the
support of her parents.
After 1919, Gatsby dedicated himself to winning Daisy back, making her the single goal of all of his dreams and
the main motivation behind his acquisition of immense wealth through criminal activity. To Gatsby, Daisy represents the
paragon of perfectionshe has the aura of charm, wealth, sophistication, grace, and aristocracy that he longed for as a child
in North Dakota and that first attracted him to her. In reality, however, Daisy falls far short of Gatsbys ideals. She is
beautiful and charming, but also fickle, shallow, bored, and sardonic. Nick characterizes her as a careless person who
smashes things up and then retreats behind her money. Daisy proves her real nature when she chooses Tom over Gatsby in
Chapter 7, then allows Gatsby to take the blame for killing Myrtle Wilson even though she herself was driving the car.
Finally, rather than attend Gatsbys funeral, Daisy and Tom move away, leaving no forwarding address.
Like Zelda Fitzgerald, Daisy is in love with money, ease, and material luxury. She is capable of affection (she seems
genuinely fond of Nick and occasionally seems to love Gatsby sincerely), but not of sustained loyalty or care. She is
indifferent even to her own infant daughter, never discussing her and treating her as an afterthought when she is introduced
in Chapter 7. In Fitzgeralds conception of America in the 1920s, Daisy represents the amoral values of the aristocratic East
Egg set.

F. Scott Fitzgerald Summary and Analysis of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"

The Button baby is born in hospital in 1860, at a time when most children were traditionally born at home. The
reaction of the doctor who delivered the baby, Dr. Keene, and the nurses at the hospital is rude and cruel. Dr. Keene is
concerned that his professional reputation will be damaged by the delivery of such a child, and the nurse reacts with utter
terror. This all happens before the peculiarity of the child is revealed. Benjamin, as he is later named, is a baby of
threescore and ten complete with a long white beard. Mr. Robert Button is shocked when he is told he has to take the baby

home: he is mortified at the idea of being seen with this appalling apparition. He is concerned about what people will
think when they see the strange child, and he struggles to imagine how he will explain the situation.
Robert Button goes out to buy clothes for the child, who he considers calling Methuselah, after the longest lived
man in the Bible. Mr. Button ends up finding only a costume suit, and when the child complains, Mr. Button is savage,
telling his son, Youve made a monkey out of me! The boy gives in to this rudeness with a grotesque simulation of filial
Mr. Button sees Benjamin as a poor excuse for a first family baby. He does not react as Mr. Button wishes,
rejecting warm milk and obediently but joylessly shaking his rattle. Benjamin starts to sneak his fathers Havana cigars
and to read the Encyclopedia Britannica. People say the boy looks like his grandfather, which does not please the family.
They organize play-dates with other children, which he does not enjoy. However, when he broke a window with a slingshot
he secretly delighted his father. Benjamin then strives to break something every day to be obliging. Benjamin is more at
ease with his grandfather. He is sent to kindergarten aged five, but keeps falling asleep and so is removed. When he is
twelve, Benjamin asks to be allowed to wear long trousers. His father agrees, though he tells his son Fourteen is the age for
putting on long trousers. This is part of Mr. Buttons silent agreement with himself to believe in his sons normality.
Benjamin enrolls at Yale, but, unable to find his hair dye on the third day, he is thrown out as a dangerous
lunatic. He decides he will go to Harvard instead.
In 1880 Benjamin is twenty, and he and his father look like brothers. They go to a dance and Benjamin meets
Hildegarde Moncrief who is as beautiful as sin. He reacts physically to her presence - an almost chemical change seemed
to dissolve and recompose the very elements of his body. Hildegarde is attracted to him as she thinks he is fifty and
therefore would make a sensible and reliable companion.
Benjamin and Hildegarde are engaged six months later. General Moncrief is devastated and speculation begins
anew as to Benjamins origin. He is variously thought to be a former prisoner, his own grandfather, an assassin or a devil.
No-one is really interested in the truth. General Moncrief tries to put his daughter off the marriage, but Hildegarde has
chosen to marry for mellowness.
The Button family fortune doubles. General Moncrief begins to appreciate his son-in-law as he arranges
publication of his twenty-volume history of the Civil War. He makes a fantastic business decision about nails, which saves
the company money. Benjamin looks younger every year and he loses interest in Hildegarde. He joins the army to fight in
the Spanish-American War of 1898.
On his return from the war, Benjamin is depressed to see how gray Hildegarde has become. He realizes that he will
keep getting younger when he had hoped the strange process would stop. Hildegarde blames Benjamin for his changes,
saying he is stubborn. Meanwhile, Benjamin gets younger and stronger. He takes up golf and is an excellent dancer. His
son, Roscoe, graduates from Harvard.
Ten years after his son graduates, Benjamin goes to Harvard again. He plays football against Yale and scores seven
touchdowns and fourteen field goals, and is greatly celebrated as a remarkable freshman athlete. But as his college career
continues, Benjamin ages into the physique of a typical teenager, and he does not even make the team in his senior year.
Hildegarde moves to Italy, so Benjamin moves in with his son. He asks to go to St Midas prep school. Roscoe says he is too
busy to help, telling Benjamin his joke has gone too far. He tells Benjamin that he must call him uncle.
Benjamin at fifty-seven enjoys reading Boy Scout stories. He receives a letter explaining that former officers from
the Spanish-American War are being called back in to service. He has a new generals uniform made and turns up at Camp
Mosby, but he is considered a playful child. Roscoe arrives to take him away in disgrace.

Roscoes son is born in 1920. Roscoe condemns his father for not behaving like a red-blooded he-man. Benjamin
and his grandson go to kindergarten on the same day. As his grandson moves through the classes, Benjamin goes backwards
until he is removed as he becomes afraid of bigger children.
Benjamin does not recall his earlier, older days. He slides into a milk-scented dark haze and thennothing.


A notable omission from the story is any reaction from Benjamins mother regarding the birth and growth of her
son. This suggests that Fitzgerald was not interested in exploring the full implications of this magic-realist scenario, but
rather that the intent was to explore the relationships between fathers and sons when their age difference is not constant.
Benjamins condition is a trial to everyone, and he is constantly criticized for the effect his unusual state has on
others. First the doctor and the nurse condemn his birth as troublesome, embarrassing and damaging to their reputation.
There is no compassion for the child or his mother. Roger Button sees his new son as grotesque," describing him as an
appalling apparition." This lurid language and unfeeling reaction is reminiscent of Dr. Frankenstein's response to his
Mr. Button is concerned only with what others will think of his child, and not about his son's feelings. Even more
remarkably, no one in the story attempts to discover the reason for Benjamin's condition, nor to cure it through any means
except absurd socialization efforts. It is this aspect that makes the story more an example of magic realism than of fantasy:
the narrative's acceptance of the outlandish phenomenon within an otherwise recognizable world is a key characteristic of
the magic realism genre.
When Benjamin is thrown out of Yale, he begins to see that it is easier to be as others see him rather than as he
really is. Hildegarde Moncrief believes Benjamin is fifty, and they live this lie as a couple until she moves to Italy when he
begins prep school. She behaves as if his condition were a choice: that he is stubborn and is acting this way out of a lack
of consideration for others.
As he moves into his older, more juvenile years, Benjamin loses the memories of the past. His story ends in
darkness, as his life presumably ends with his birth. This arc is structurally echoed in Flowers for Algernon, in which
Charlie begins the story in an intellectual darkness, grows into mental genius, and then declines back into darkness. Both
stories use a fantastic or science fictional premise to explore the structure of all long lives, in which we are cognizant of
being on a long, slow decline back into the oblivion from which we came.

AS I LAY DYING, William Faulkner

Addie Bundren, the wife of Anse Bundren and the matriarch of a poor southern family, is very ill, and is expected
to die soon. Her oldest son, Cash, puts all of his carpentry skills into preparing her coffin, which he builds right in front of
Addies bedroom window. Although Addies health is failing rapidly, two of her other sons, Darl and Jewel, leave town to
make a delivery for the Bundrens neighbor, Vernon Tull, whose wife and two daughters have been tending to Addie.
Shortly after Darl and Jewel leave, Addie dies. The youngest Bundren child, Vardaman, associates his mothers death with
that of a fish he caught and cleaned earlier that day. With some help, Cash completes the coffin just before dawn. Vardaman
is troubled by the fact that his mother is nailed shut inside a box, and while the others sleep, he bores holes in the lid, two of

which go through his mothers face. Addie and Anses daughter, Dewey Dell, whose recent sexual liaisons with a local
farmhand named Lafe have left her pregnant, is so overwhelmed by anxiety over her condition that she barely mourns her
mothers death. A funeral service is held on the following day, where the women sing songs inside the Bundren house while
the men stand outside on the porch talking to each other.
Darl, who narrates much of this first section, returns with Jewel a few days later, and the presence of buzzards over
their house lets them know their mother is dead. On seeing this sign, Darl sardonically reassures Jewel, who is widely
perceived as ungrateful and uncaring, that he can be sure his beloved horse is not dead. Addie has made Anse promise that
she will be buried in the town of Jefferson, and though this request is a far more complicated proposition than burying her at
home, Anses sense of obligation, combined with his desire to buy a set of false teeth, compels him to fulfill Addies dying
wish. Cash, who has broken his leg on a job site, helps the family lift the unbalanced coffin, but it is Jewel who ends up
manhandling it, almost single-handedly, into the wagon. Jewel refuses, however, to actually come in the wagon, and follows
the rest of the family riding on his horse, which he bought when he was young by secretly working nights on a neighbors
On the first night of their journey, the Bundrens stay at the home of a generous local family, who regards the
Bundrens mission with skepticism. Due to severe flooding, the main bridges leading over the local river have been flooded
or washed away, and the Bundrens are forced to turn around and attempt a river-crossing over a makeshift ford. When a
stray log upsets the wagon, the coffin is knocked out, Cashs broken leg is reinjured, and the team of mules drowns. Vernon
Tull sees the wreck, and helps Jewel rescue the coffin and the wagon from the river. Together, the family members and Tull
search the riverbed for Cashs tools.
Cora, Tulls wife, remembers Addies unchristian inclination to respect her son Jewel more than God. Addie
herself, speaking either from her coffin or in a leap back in time to her deathbed, recalls events from her life: her loveless
marriage to Anse; her affair with the local minister, Whitfield, which led to Jewels conception; and the birth of her various
children. Whitfield recalls traveling to the Bundrens house to confess the affair to Anse, and his eventual decision not to say
anything after all.
A horse doctor sets Cashs broken leg, while Cash faints from the pain without ever complaining. Anse is able to
purchase a new team of mules by mortgaging his farm equipment, using money that he was saving for his false teeth and
money that Cash was saving for a new gramophone, and trading in Jewels horse. The family continues on its way. In the
town of Mottson, residents react with horror to the stench coming from the Bundren wagon. While the family is in town,
Dewey Dell tries to buy a drug that will abort her unwanted pregnancy, but the pharmacist refuses to sell it to her, and
advises marriage instead. With cement the family has purchased in town, Darl creates a makeshift cast for Cashs broken
leg, which fits poorly and only increases Cashs pain. The Bundrens then spend the night at a local farm owned by a man
named Gillespie. Darl, who has been skeptical of their mission for some time, burns down the Gillespie barn with the
intention of incinerating the coffin and Addies rotting corpse. Jewel rescues the animals in the barn, then risks his life to
drag out Addies coffin. Darl lies on his mothers coffin and cries.
The next day, the Bundrens arrive in Jefferson and bury Addie. Rather than face a lawsuit for Darls criminal barn
burning, the Bundrens claim that Darl is insane, and give him to a pair of men who commit him to a Jackson mental
institution. Dewey Dell tries again to buy an abortion drug at the local pharmacy, where a boy working behind the counter
claims to be a doctor and tricks her into exchanging sexual services for what she soon realizes is not an actual abortion drug.
The following morning, the children are greeted by their father, who sports a new set of false teeth and, with a mixture of
shame and pride, introduces them to his new bride, a local woman he meets while borrowing shovels with which to bury

A ROSE FOR EMILY, William Faulkner

The story is divided into five sections. In section I, the narrator recalls the time of Emily Griersons death and how
the entire town attended her funeral in her home, which no stranger had entered for more than ten years. In a once-elegant,
upscale neighborhood, Emilys house is the last vestige of the grandeur of a lost era. Colonel Sartoris, the towns previous
mayor, had suspended Emilys tax responsibilities to the town after her fathers death, justifying the action by claiming that
Mr. Grierson had once lent the community a significant sum. As new town leaders take over, they make unsuccessful
attempts to get Emily to resume payments. When members of the Board of Aldermen pay her a visit, in the dusty and
antiquated parlor, Emily reasserts the fact that she is not required to pay taxes in Jefferson and that the officials should talk
to Colonel Sartoris about the matter. However, at that point he has been dead for almost a decade. She asks her servant,
Tobe, to show the men out.
In section II, the narrator describes a time thirty years earlier when Emily resists another official inquiry on behalf
of the town leaders, when the townspeople detect a powerful odor emanating from her property. Her father has just died, and
Emily has been abandoned by the man whom the townsfolk believed Emily was to marry. As complaints mount, Judge
Stevens, the mayor at the time, decides to have lime sprinkled along the foundation of the Grierson home in the middle of
the night. Within a couple of weeks, the odor subsides, but the townspeople begin to pity the increasingly reclusive Emily,
remembering how her great aunt had succumbed to insanity. The townspeople have always believed that the Griersons
thought too highly of themselves, with Emilys father driving off the many suitors deemed not good enough to marry his
daughter. With no offer of marriage in sight, Emily is still single by the time she turns thirty.
The day after Mr. Griersons death, the women of the town call on Emily to offer their condolences. Meeting them
at the door, Emily states that her father is not dead, a charade that she keeps up for three days. She finally turns her fathers
body over for burial.
In section III, the narrator describes a long illness that Emily suffers after this incident. The summer after her
fathers death, the town contracts workers to pave the sidewalks, and a construction company, under the direction of
northerner Homer Barron, is awarded the job. Homer soon becomes a popular figure in town and is seen taking Emily on
buggy rides on Sunday afternoons, which scandalizes the town and increases the condescension and pity they have for
Emily. They feel that she is forgetting her family pride and becoming involved with a man beneath her station.
As the affair continues and Emilys reputation is further compromised, she goes to the drug store to purchase
arsenic, a powerful poison. She is required by law to reveal how she will use the arsenic. She offers no explanation, and the
package arrives at her house labeled For rats.
In section IV, the narrator describes the fear that some of the townspeople have that Emily will use the poison to
kill herself. Her potential marriage to Homer seems increasingly unlikely, despite their continued Sunday ritual. The more
outraged women of the town insist that the Baptist minister talk with Emily. After his visit, he never speaks of what
happened and swears that hell never go back. So the ministers wife writes to Emilys two cousins in Alabama, who arrive
for an extended stay. Because Emily orders a silver toilet set monogrammed with Homers initials, talk of the couples
marriage resumes. Homer, absent from town, is believed to be preparing for Emilys move to the North or avoiding Emilys
intrusive relatives.
After the cousins departure, Homer enters the Grierson home one evening and then is never seen again. Holed up
in the house, Emily grows plump and gray. Despite the occasional lesson she gives in china painting, her door remains
closed to outsiders. In what becomes an annual ritual, Emily refuses to acknowledge the tax bill. She eventually closes up
the top floor of the house. Except for the occasional glimpse of her in the window, nothing is heard from her until her death
at age seventy-four. Only the servant is seen going in and out of the house.
In section V, the narrator describes what happens after Emily dies. Emilys body is laid out in the parlor, and the
women, town elders, and two cousins attend the service. After some time has passed, the door to a sealed upstairs room that
had not been opened in forty years is broken down by the townspeople. The room is frozen in time, with the items for an
upcoming wedding and a mans suit laid out. Homer Barrons body is stretched on the bed as well, in an advanced state of

decay. The onlookers then notice the indentation of a head in the pillow beside Homers body and a long strand of Emilys
gray hair on the pillow.

Emily Grierson
Emily is the classic outsider, controlling and limiting the towns access to her true identity by remaining hidden.
The house that shields Emily from the world suggests the mind of the woman who inhabits it: shuttered, dusty, and dark.
The object of the towns intense scrutiny, Emily is a muted and mysterious figure. On one level, she exhibits the qualities of
the stereotypical southern eccentric: unbalanced, excessively tragic, and subject to bizarre behavior. Emily enforces her
own sense of law and conduct, such as when she refuses to pay her taxes or state her purpose for buying the poison. Emily
also skirts the law when she refuses to have numbers attached to her house when federal mail service is instituted. Her
dismissal of the law eventually takes on more sinister consequences, as she takes the life of the man whom she refuses to
allow to abandon her.
The narrator portrays Emily as a monument, but at the same time she is pitied and often irritating, demanding to
live life on her own terms. The subject of gossip and speculation, the townspeople cluck their tongues at the fact that she
accepts Homers attentions with no firm wedding plans. After she purchases the poison, the townspeople conclude that she
will kill herself. Emilys instabilities, however, lead her in a different direction, and the final scene of the story suggests that
she is a necrophiliac. Necrophilia typically means a sexual attraction to dead bodies. In a broader sense, the term also
describes a powerful desire to control another, usually in the context of a romantic or deeply personal relationship.
Necrophiliacs tend to be so controlling in their relationships that they ultimately resort to bonding with unresponsive entities
with no resistance or willin other words, with dead bodies. Mr. Grierson controlled Emily, and after his death, Emily
temporarily controls him by refusing to give up his dead body. She ultimately transfers this control to Homer, the object of
her affection. Unable to find a traditional way to express her desire to possess Homer, Emily takes his life to achieve total
power over him.

Homer Barro
Homer, much like Emily, is an outsider, a stranger in town who becomes the subject of gossip. Unlike Emily,
however, Homer swoops into town brimming with charm, and he initially becomes the center of attention and the object of
affection. Some townspeople distrust him because he is both a Northerner and day laborer, and his Sunday outings with
Emily are in many ways scandalous, because the townspeople regard Emilydespite her eccentricitiesas being from a
higher social class. Homers failure to properly court and marry Emily prompts speculation and suspicion. He carouses with
younger men at the Elks Club, and the narrator portrays him as either a homosexual or simply an eternal bachelor, dedicated
to his single status and uninterested in marriage. Homer says only that he is not a marrying man.
As the foreman of a company that has arrived in town to pave the sidewalks, Homer is an emblem of the North and
the changes that grip the once insular and genteel world of the South. With his machinery, Homer represents modernity and
industrialization, the force of progress that is upending traditional values and provoking resistance and alarm among
traditionalists. Homer brings innovation to the rapidly changing world of this Southern town, whose new leaders are
themselves pursuing more modern ideas. The change that Homer brings to Emilys life, as her first real lover, is equally as
profound and seals his grim fate as the victim of her plan to keep him permanently by her side.
Good Country People Summary, Flannery OConnor

In addition to representing the Christian and Southern American identities seen in most of Flannery OConnors
fiction, Good Country People touches on the roles of the intellect and intellectualism, as well as physical challenges in
developing the individual identity. The central character is emotionally scarred by a hunting accident that has left her with
one leg. This disfigurement causes her to retreat from the physical world into the world of the intellect. She was named Joy
by her appropriately named mother, Mrs. Hopewell, a rather simplistic optimist who confronts adversity simply by hoping
for the best. This philosophy of cheer irritates Joy, who retaliates by legally changing her name to the ugliest one she can
think of: Hulga.
While the story does hint at the way various people react to the physically challenged, OConnors interest in
Hulga/Joys identity seems to lie in a different direction. The deliberate ugliness in her choice of a name mirrors the
deliberate ugliness of her personality. Hulga is deliberately as rude as possible to her mother because of Hulgas disgust for
her mothers sweetness-and-light simplicity. OConnor reveals Mrs. Hopewells insensitivity to Hulgas bitterness at her
maiming, but greater thematic importance is placed on the disfigurement as an analogue for a spiritual leglessness. Moral
ugliness, OConnors Catholic belief instructs, is always the result of the brokenness of human nature. Humanity was
crippled in the Fall, Adam and Eves first sin.
This Christian orthodoxy is not Hulgas belief at all. Her self-made identity is of an elite intellectual, rising above
such superstition. Christian morality, in the story, seems at first to be represented in the story by a travelling Bible salesman
named Manley Pointer. To some extent, the plot he engenders is an old joke: He is a traveling salesman trying to seduce the
daughter. Seduce her he does, but not by appealing to her emotionsHulga denies that she has any. Rather, he sees her true
weakness: intellectual pride. Hulgas self-created identity is that of the great intellect (she holds a Ph.D. in philosophy)
among country bumpkins, and by pretending to succumb to Manleys bumbling professions of love, she can prove that there
is no such thing. She intends to demonstrate that what is called love is simply a hypocritical disguise for lust. Love, she
thinks, is as illusory as Christianity, the other myth in which Manley seems to believe.
Yet the joke is on her. Manley, it turns out, is not the Christian he claims to be: He is a con artist who uses Hulgas
pride to attempt to win from her not only sexual favors but also her prosthetic leg. Her reactions to his attentions reveal her
hypocrisy: She is outraged, like a traditional belle whom Hulga would hold in contempt, at his frank sexual proposition. She
also is mentally bested by the young man. The story ends with Manley disappearing in the distance with Hulgas prosthetic
leg, leaving her to question her presuppositions about her own identity while she awaits an embarrassing rescue in a hay

Lost in the Funhouse Summary & Study Guide Description

Lost in the Funhouse is a post-modern collection of short stories published in 1963. John Barth is considered one
of the premier American post-modern writers and his fiction has been studied extensively over the past 50 years. The title
piece is perhaps the most famous and has become synonymous with the post-modern literary canon. In the introduction to
the book, John Barth explains all of the pieces can be read separately, but that the order of the book is laid out in a particular
way on purpose and the stories are really meant to be read, or performed, in that order. Barth experimented with different
styles of writing based on the style with which he intended for it to be read or performed. Certain stories should be read
quietly, on an individual basis, while others are meant to be read aloud, listened to from a recording, or performed by
several players.
Each piece is independent of the next, though all the stories affect the others in some way. The character of
Ambrose Mensch appears in three chapters and each tale covers a different portion of his childhood. The first story about
Ambrose discusses his lack of a name for the first few months of his life. His father is a patient in an insane asylum and his
mother has no energy or desire to find a suitable name for him, preferring to just call him Christine which was going to be
his name if he was a girl. Ambrose is eventually named after a swarm of bees hovers over him and his mother and he is not
stung. His uncle remarks that event is similar to that of Saint Ambrose and the name sticks.

In the next tale, Ambrose is in fourth grade and bullied by classmates and kids in the neighborhood. His older
brother Peter provides very little protection and when Ambrose is waiting for his brother who is in a secret club meeting
with other neighborhood boys, Ambrose finds a message in a bottle. The message ends up being nothing more than a
greeting and salutation but Ambrose fantasizes what excitement it might hold before opening it. In the third chapter about
Ambrose, he is thirteen and heading to Ocean City, Maryland, to spend the 4th of July holiday with his family. He fantasizes
about mutual romantic feelings with his brothers girlfriend Magda and ends up alone and lost in the funhouse that is meant
for lovers.
Several characters from mythology make appearances in the book, including Echo, Menelaus, Helen, Narcissus
and Telemachus. In each piece, traditional stories from mythology are retold in a fresh way that pays homage to the original
stories. The author makes connections between the contemporary stories of Ambrose Mensch and the ancient stories of
mythology, showing human nature and storytelling have not changed much through the centuries.
Other pieces do not have specific characters but address the audience specifically about the authors feelings as
regards contemporary fiction. The author often pauses in mid-thought to point out the literary devices he is employing and
how they agree or disagree with conventional fiction writing. Some pieces discuss the meaning and futility of life through
the voice of a traveling sperm or a tape recording. As an entire collection, Lost in the Funhouse comments on what the
author believes to be overused writing techniques as he gives his own fresh spin on how fiction should be written, read,
heard, and performed.

Plot Summary
On the surface, Lost in the Funhouse is the story of a thirteen-year-old boys trip to the beach with his family on
the fourth of July during World War II. With Ambrose are his older brother Peter, their mother and father, their Uncle Karl,
and a fourteen-year-old neighbor girl, Magda, to whom both Ambrose and Peter are attracted. Having learned that the beach
is covered in oil and tar from the fleet off-shore, the group decides to go through the funhouse instead. Both boys fantasize
about going through the maze with Magda, but it suddenly becomes clear to Ambrose that he has misunderstood the
meaning of the funhouse, has failed to see that to get through expeditiously was not the point. He realizes that he is too
young to understand or engage in the sexual play associated with the funhouses dark corners. More profoundly, however,
he also realizes that he is constitutionally different from his bother and Magda: he is not the type of person for whom
funhouses are fun. Confused and separated from the others, Ambrose takes a wrong turn and loses his way. During the
process of finding his way out of the dark corridors and back hallways, he comes to some realizations about himself and
about funhouses. Specifically, he understands that his crippling self-consciousness also comes with a gift, an extraordinary
imagination. Recognizing that the artistic life brings alienation as well as satisfaction he resolves to construct funhouses for
others and be their secret operatorthough he would rather be among the lovers for whom funhouses are constructed.
Ambroses ill-fated visit to the funhouse, however, is only part of the story. A third person omniscient narrator,
sometimes identified with Ambrose or with the author himself, constantly interrupts the story of Ambrose and his familys
visit to the beach to comment on the storys own construction and to call the readers attention to the way literary devices
make meaning. The story itself becomes a funhouse of language through which the reader must find his or her way, but the
narrative intrusions also point out whats real and whats reflectionor more accurately, that everything is a reflectionand
how the hidden levers work behind the scenes.


Ambrose is the main character in the story and serves as the authors alter ego, or other self. At thirteen, he is at that
awkward age, and in addition to the usual adolescent gawkiness, he is exceptionally introspective and self-conscious.
Ambrose is not only just becoming aware of his sexuality, he is experiencing the first inklings of his artistic temperament. In
the narrators words, There was some simple, radical difference about him; he hoped it was genius, feared it was madness,
devoted himself to amiability and inconspicuousness.

That Ambroses father wears glasses and is a principal at a grade school is essentially all the description the story provides.
Later in the story, the narrator describes the boys father as tall and thin, balding, fair-complexioned. At times he betrays a
disgruntled nostalgia for the old days.

Fat May
Not technically a character, Fat May the Laughing Lady is a mechanical sign at the entrance to the funhouse whose laughter
and bawdy gestures Ambrose feels are directed toward him.

At fourteen, Magda, a girl from the boys neighborhood, is very well developed for her age. When she goes through the
funhouse with Ambroses older brother, Ambrose realizes how different he is from the lovers for whom the funhouse is
fun. On an earlier occasion, she is the girl who provides Ambrose with his first (and unsatisfying) sexual experience as part
of a game. She is the object of Ambroses desire, and he likes to imagine himself married to her someday.

Ambrose and Peters mother is a cheerful woman whom the narrator describes as pretty, but any additional details are
withheld. She does not share Ambroses brooding qualities. In fact, she likes to tease her sons because of their attention to

Peter, Ambroses fifteen-year-old brother, possesses the physical grace and uncomplicated view of life that Ambrose lacks.
Although Ambrose knows that his older brother is not as smart as he is (he wont be able to grasp the secret to being the first
to spot the landmark Towers on the way to Ocean City, for example), he envies Peters ability to understand the purpose of
the funhouse and to find his way through it.

Uncle Karl
Though the story never reveals whose brother Karl is, in physical appearance he is the fathers opposite. Both Peter and
Karl have dark hair and eyes, short, husky statures, deep voices. He works as a masonry contractor and likes to tease the
boys and their mother.


Just as the funhouse poses mirrors in front of mirrors, tempting the viewer to mistake image for substance, Lost in the
Funhouse seduces readers into believing the familiar literary truism that sex is a metaphor for language. What Ambrose
learns in his journey through the three dimensional funhouse in Ocean City and the narrative funhouse of the story is that
the opposite is true: language is just a metaphor for sex. Sex, in fact, is the whole point . . . Of the entire funhouse!
Everywhere Ambrose hears the sound of sex, The shluppish whisper, continuous as seawash round the globe, tidelike falls
and rises with the circuit of dawn and dusk. He imagines if he had X-ray eyes he would see that all that normally
showed, like restaurants.

THE CRYING OF LOT 49, Thomas Pynchon

Chapter 1 Summary

One summer afternoon, a woman named Oedipa Maas returns to her house from a party and finds a letter in her
box naming her the legal executor of the estate of Pierce Inverarity, one of her ex-boyfriends and a very wealthy California
real-estate mogul. Oedipa learns that the estate is in a very messy situation, noting that Pierce once lost $2 million when one
of his land deals backfired. The news of Pierce's death leads Oedipa to all sorts of strange imaginings. She suspects that she
is becoming very ill, and she thinks back to the time she last spoke to him. She remembers specifically that Pierce liked to
speak in strange voices, imitating celebrities (including Lamont Cranston), dialects, and ethnic groups.
Oedipa silently resolves to perform her duty to her late ex-boyfriend, but she realizes that she knows nothing about
wills and how to execute them. She suspects that her husband, Mucho Maas, a former used-car salesman currently working
as a radio DJ, will not be able to give her much help. We see that Oedipa has some reservations about her husband's mental
state; she believes that even though he had to leave his job as a used-car salesman, he "had believed too much in the lot."
Later that night, Oedipa's doctor, Dr. Hilarius, calls her at 3 a.m. and asks her to participate in a drug experiment he
is conducting. The experiment relates in some way to LSD, although we do not find out many details. Oedipa refuses him.
The next day, she goes to see her lawyer, Roseman, who asks her to run away with him, although he does not know to

Oedipa, speculating to herself after seeing Roseman, realizes that she had always hoped to achieve some sort of
escape through her relationship with Pierce. However, she never had actually escaped, and she now does not know what
exactly she wanted to escape from. As the chapter ends, Oedipa imagines that she had been a type of Rapunzel trapped in a
high tower waiting for someone to ask her to let her hair down. Pierce had tried to climb her hair up to her, but she imagines
that he actually ended up falling down once her hair turned out to be only a wig.

Notice that the very first action of the novel is the reception of a letter. The issue of letters, mail, and, more largely,
communication are central motifs in this novel. Later, Oedipa will begin to uncover what she believes to be an old worldwide conspiracy related to mail delivery; hence, it is important to note the times when letters appear in the novel. In this first
instance, the letter communicates important information: Her old boyfriend has died, leaving her with an enormous task to
sort out. Keep in mind now that many of the letters later on in the novel will not contain any information at all.
One must also immediately notice the peculiar psychological moments of the novel, such as the instant when
Oedipa first reads the letter. Pynchon shows the flicker of Oedipa's associations after she receives the news, a thought
process involving God, television, drunkenness, and fairy tales all entwined with her memories of moments spent with
Pierce. These three motifs (God, TV, and drunkenness) all regularly appear throughout the novel, and each time they appear
they are in some way related to communication. When Oedipa first arrives in San Narciso, she has a type of "religious
instant" when she thinks that a divine being may be imparting some sort of knowledge on her, although what exactly that
knowledge is she does not know. The television is also a source of confusion and one-sided communication in the novel, as
we will see in the hotel scene with Metzger. And, of course, drunkenness and other drugs lead one to mental states that seem
expanded and yet render communication impossible. All three of these motifs, as well as memories from the past, are
examples of things that surround us and try to send us messages that we, for whatever reason, cannot understand.
It is very important, then, to realize that the problems faced by Oedipa in this novel are really the same as those faced by all
readers of the novel itself. Just like any one of the millions of things in this novel that seem to hold a particular message for
Oedipa that remains just beyond her reach, this book itself is a means of communication that will prove ultimately baffling
to the reader. Every reader of this novel is subject to the same problems as Oedipa; thus, we can see her as a type of
"everyman" character who, just like the reader, tries futilely to piece together fragments of a multi-faceted society.
One of this novel's central interests is language itself and the topic of naming (for the relationship between names
and language in the novel, please see the special Naming section). The interest in language accounts for the many puns in
the novel, one of which is the idea of a "lot." Oedipa's long reflection on her husband's former job in a used-car lot reminds
us of the title and may even lead the reader to think that the title will in some way relate to this car lot. However, the car lot,
while it symbolizes one of the central problems in Mucho's life (the problem of dealing with the past while believing in the
present), has little to do with the broader themes of the book or the title. Thus, Pynchon shows us a way in which language
itself, in the form of puns, can be used as a means of providing false clues related to the novel's central concerns.
Another one of these false clues relates to the title of Mucho's radio station, KCUF. It seems plausible, because
most West Coast radio stations begin with the letter K. But read backward, the radio station spells the word fuck. One might
wonder why Pynchon placed this here, and there is not necessarily a correct answer. Language games such as these might be
designed to alert the reader to both the profusion of profanity in society and perhaps the prevalence of sexual imagery and
meaning in society, but it might also be Pynchon's game with himself. Or it might be both.

Chapter 2Summary

Oedipa rents a car and leaves her home in Kinneret, California, for the town of San Narciso, where Pierce had lived
and where the law firm of Warpe, Wistfull, Kubitschek and McMingus, Pierce's law firm, is based. On the way, she drives
by the Galactronics Division of Yoyodyne, a company that produces technical parts for the aerospace industry, and she
notices that the company moved to San Narciso for tax benefits. Oedipa arrives in the town and checks into the Echo Courts
hotel. At the hotel, she meets a man named Miles, one of the hotel's managers, who sings in a band called The Paranoids
with Dean, Serge, and Leonard. Miles is truly paranoid and thinks that Oedipa wants to sleep with him when she offers to
play one of his band's demo tapes on her husband's radio station.

That night, Metzger, a lawyer from Warpe, Wistfull, Kubitschek and McMingus, arrives to help Oedipa in her job
of executing the estate. Oedipa quickly learns that Pierce's estate is very complex; she and Metzger have a difficult job
ahead of them. Metzger tells her of his weird personal history, relating stories of his job as a child actor named Baby Igor,
and as he does so, they drink a very large amount of tequila that Metzger has brought with him. While they are drinking,
talking, and working, one of Metzger's films comes on television, and Oedipa watches part of it. He sings to her as they
begin to make bets about what will happen at the end of the movie. When Oedipa begins to question him about the film's
upcoming ending, Metzger instigates a game of Strip Botticelli, in which Oedipa will have to remove one article of clothing
for every question he answers. Oedipa agrees, but first goes to the bathroom and dresses herself in as many layers of
clothing as possible, making herself look like a huge overstuffed doll covered in jewelry and undergarments. While
dressing, she knocks over a can of hairspray, breaking it and sending it flying all around the bathroom violently. Metzger
comes in and lays on top of her while the can flies around. The bathroom gets destroyed, and Oedipa bites Metzger
playfully to get him off her.
At this point, Miles and his band show up with a troupe of hippie teenage girls ready to party, but Oedipa asks
them all to leave. They go into the hallway and sing songs while Oedipa and Metzger watch the movie some more,
commencing the game of Strip Botticelli, although Oedipa never gets substantially more naked because of all her layers.
She goes back into the bathroom briefly and is taken aback by the broken mirror, shattered by the flying can of hairspray.
She then comes back into the room and falls on top of Metzger, kissing him wildly. The two drift in and out of drunken
sleep as they have sex.

Oedipa's arrival in San Narciso is a good introduction to the cultural chaos and mixed messaging that will more
thoroughly work their way into later parts of the novel. The second paragraph is particularly indicative of these motifs.
Notice the layering related to the setting: The difference between San Narciso and the rest of southern California "was
invisible on first glance." In writing this, Pynchon simultaneously asserts the presence of difference and claims it is
unnoticeable. In terms of both the differences inherent in San Narcisco and Pynchon's writing, there is a layering of
superficiality through which one must pierce in order to get to real meaning. This superficiality and self-referentiality are
further embedded in the name San Narcisco, a comical mutation of California place names that alludes to the Greek myth of
Narcissus, a beautiful Greek boy who mistakes his own reflection for another person and promptly falls in love with
Notice also that the paragraph moves from a state of inactivity--"nothing was happening"--to a situation of wild
activity marked by voices, music, digging, a whirlwind, and the center of a "religious instant." The "nothing was happening"
declaration is particularly troubling because it leads us to believe that the chaotic events that follow it are merely dreamed
up in Oedipa's mind. Thus, we see an external world of peace that is mentally blocked out by a woman whose overactive
mind leads her to all sorts of wild speculations and imaginings.

This question of reality is one of the most pressing concerns in the novel, particularly later on when Oedipa begins
to suspect that the whole Tristero plot may be nothing more than a figment of her own overactive imagination. The problem
of understanding the "religious instant" is closely tied to the concept of reality. First, notice that this religious moment has
nothing to do with God, at least not directly. It is a type of secular religion that deals with a pagan god of batteries and small
towns--a type of order and structure. But whatever is behind the religious instant, it cannot communicate anything in
particular. "She gave it up presently, as if a cloud had approached the sun," thus, ending the moment. Oedipa has not come
away with a greater sense of understanding but simply with the knowledge that, as the novelist Joseph Heller writes,
"something happened." There is no communication as to what. If there is a message implicit in the moment, it is deeply
shrouded, and the clouds come in to end the moment before anything can be really gained. The central problem is reaching
any sort of underlying truth.
This certainly ties in to the events in the motel with Metzger. The game of Strip Botticelli is particularly illustrative
of the plot about to unfold. In the game, the multi-layered Oedipa strips plenty of her clothes off, but she never really
approaches any sort of nudity thanks to all her bundles of clothing. On one level, this may be an insight into Oedipa's
personality; perhaps Pynchon is trying to assert that she is a multi-layered character who cannot be fully exposed under any
circumstances. Indeed, simple, truthful exposure is not possible in this game. However, the game may be a larger allegory
for the broader scheme of the detective story about to begin. When Oedipa goes about trying to solve the mystery of the
Tristero, she will quickly find that no matter how many insights she discovers or twists she uncovers, she will never fully
expose the conspiracy. There are always more layers to the complex plot, and Oedipa will find that each time she strips
away a mysterious layer, it only opens up more possibilities and more sub-mysteries to be solved. Strip Botticelli is a means
of indicating that the Tristero mystery will never lie open, naked and exposed, because there are always deeper layers to be
Finally, notice the way in which Pynchon creates images. The sex scene at the end of the chapter is full of Freudian
sexual imagery, all of which is tied in with the events on the margins of the sexual act. For instance, when Oedipa and
Metzger begin having sex, Pynchon mentions that the people outside in the hallway are "plugging in" their guitars into
amps. The line, "The father seemed to be up before a court-martial, now" is supposed to refer to a character in the film on
TV, but its placement immediately after Metzger takes his pants off can only be interpreted as a not-too-subtle means of
telling us that he has an erection. The affair between Metzger and Oedipa emerges out of simple desire. In layering the scene
with Freudian images through the comedic venue of the Paranoids--Freud being a man deeply engaged in the effort, among
other things, to clearly explain sexual desires--Pynchon engages in and mocks the effort to impose interpretation on that
which cannot entirely be interpreted.

HERZOG, Saul Bellow

Herzog has a narrative plot, but most of its important action takes place in the mind of Moses Herzog, its
protagonist. Moses is a middle-aged college professor living temporarily in his country home in the Berkshires. Moses has
made a habit of writing letters, which he never sends, to family, friends, acquaintances, scholars, writers, and the dead.
These letters make up much of the novel.
Moses decides to visit his friends at Martha's Vineyard, mostly because he wants to escape his lover, Ramona.
Almost immediately up arriving at the Vineyard, however, Moses decides to return to New York, where he writes letters
compulsively. Moses spends the next night with Ramona. The following morning, he decides he must act somehow, and
determines to fight his ex-wife, Madeleine, for custody of their daughter, June. June's babysitter wrote a letter accusing
Valentine Gersbach, Moses' best friend and Madeleine's lover, of treating June badly. According to the babysitter, Valentine
locked the child in the car while he and Madeleine argued.

Moses calls his lawyer, Simkin, and arranges a meeting in the courthouse. While he waits for Simkin, Moses
witnesses several cases ranging from prostitution to a mother's murder of her daughter. The next day, Moses impulsively
flies to Chicago to visit his daughter. In Chicago, he goes to his childhood home, where his widowed stepmother, Tante
Taube, still lives. There, he goes to the desk of his late father, Jonah Herzog, and takes Jonah's old gun and some Russian
rubles. Moses considers murdering his ex-wife and her lover with the gun. After spying on Madeleine and Valentine through
a window of their house, however, Moses realizes that he will not kill them. He goes to Phoebe Gersbach, Valentine's wife,
and asks for her help in gaining custody of June, but Phoebe refuses to help him.
Moses spends the night with his good friend Lucas Asphalter. Through Lucas, he arranges to meet with his
daughter. The next morning he takes June to the aquarium. As they leave the aquarium, Moses gets into a car accident. June
is not hurt, but Moses is knocked unconscious. He wakes up to find himself at the feet of the police. He is charged with
possession of a weapon and taken to jail. His brother Will bails him out. Will is worried for Moses. Later, the brothers meet
in the Berkshires. Will suggests that Moses allow himself to be taken to a hospital for observed rest under the care of a
psychiatrist. Moses had once had the same idea himself, but now he rejects it and remains in the Berkshires. He arranges a
night with Ramona, who comes to visit him. By the end of the novel, Moses has found contentment in his country home and
the pleasant weather. He feels he does not need to write any more letters.

Moses Herzog
The protagonist of Herzog is a man going through his second divorce and an internal crisis. Moses Herzog is reevaluating
his life, recalling the events in his past that shaped him, and trying to come to some kind of conclusion about his own life
and the world around him. He was raised in the slums of Montreal. He has strong feelings for his Jewish background family,
loving his parents and siblings despite his differences with them. Moses also loves his daughter and son. Moses writes an
unusual number of letters, not only to friends, but to acquaintances, strangers, the famous, and the dead. These letters reveal
Moses as a man of sentiment and intellect. He struggles because of the conflict between his intellect and his emotion.
Moses has suffered a great deal. He has been diagnosed as a "depressive," but he is often optimistic, and by the end
of the novel seems to find happiness by accepting the contradictions and ambiguities that exist in himself and in the outside
world. In part, Moses finds happiness by allowing himself to accept limitations. For example, he realizes that he must
repress certain of his emotions, or risk being judged insane. Although Moses ends the novel happily, we are left wondering
whether his happiness is permanent, or simply a finite upswing in a cycle of happiness and suffering.
Madeleine, Moses' ex-wife, is the archetypal antagonistic ex. Moses describes her as exceptionally beautiful,
occasionally neurotic, and role-playing. Madeleine's father was an actor, and Madeleine inherited his theatrical tendencies.
Over the course of the novel, she first embraces the role of fervent convert to Catholicism, later trading in her newfound
religion for a role as a scholar and academic.
Our view as Madeleine as a terrible person is not an entirely objective one. We see her mostly through Herzog's
biased eyes. Reading between the lines, we can see that Madeleine may have genuine grievances of her own. Moses
mentions that Madeleine had difficulty getting used to the houseworkan understandable grievance, since Madeleine had
to cook and clean a huge house in the solitary Berkshires, with no company besides Valentine and Phoebe Gersbach.
Madeleine's resistance to housewifery is even more understandable considering her background. She hated her mother for
giving up her life in order to serve her famous actor father. She objects to female servitude, and cannot bring herself to serve
Moses. Madeleine's sister also says that Madeleine complained of Herzog's tyrannical and dictatorial tendencies. Bellow
depicts Madeleine as a "modern woman," unsuited for the life Moses has to offer..

Madeleine has an affair with Gersbach, Moses' best friend. Although the affair wounds Herzog, Madeleine seems
to truly love Gersbach, something that even Moses admits. In contrast to Moses, Gersbach helps Madeleine with the
housework and with June.

Gersbach A crippled dandy, Gersbach is Madeleine's lover and Moses' best friend. Gersbach has only one leg, and he is a
large, sexy presence. He can be read as an exaggerated, physicalized version of Moses. Like Moses, Gersbach is handsome
and charming; like Moses' interior self, Gersbach is physically crippled. Moses even claims that Gersbach stole his style and
his manners. Madeleine chooses Gersbach because he is capable of living in the outside world. Unlike Moses, Gersbach
excels at conversation. Gersbach is capable of betrayalhe lies to his best friend and sleeps with his best friend's wife. He
is also capable of love. Gersbach loves his son and probably loves Phoebe.
Gersbach is a sentimentalist, like Moses, and an actor, like Madeleine. He writes poems and cries while reciting them; he
drives a Lincoln Continental but believes in Marx. Bellow writes about Gersbach with comic satire, making him enjoyable,
sympathetic, and often worthy of our pity.

The Music School, by John Updike

The Music School is a place of learning, in which a sheltered South Dakota boy meets his roommate at Harvard, a
rebel with whom he will have a violentand ambiguousphysical encounter; a warring married couple, Richard and Joan
Maple, try and try again to find solace in sex; and Henry Bech, an unprolific American writer publicizing himself far from
home, enjoys a moment of improbable, poignant, untranslatable connection with a Bulgarian poetess. In these twenty short
stories, each evidence of his early mastery, John Updike brings us a worlda world of fumbling, pausing, and beginning
again; a world sensitively felt and lovingly expressed; a world whose pianissimo harmonies demand new subtleties of
fictional form.
The Centaur, by John Updike
The Centaur is a modern retelling of the legend of Chiron, the noblest and wisest of the centaurs, who, painfully
wounded yet unable to die, gave up his immortality on behalf of Prometheus. In the retelling, Olympus becomes small-town
Olinger High School; Chiron is George Caldwell, a science teacher there; and Prometheus is Caldwells fifteen-year-old
son, Peter. Brilliantly conflating the authors remembered past with tales from Greek mythology, John Updike translates
Chirons agonized search for relief into the incidents and accidents of three winter days spent in rural Pennsylvania in 1947.
The result, said the judges of the National Book Award, is a courageous and brilliant account of a conflict in gifts between
an inarticulate American father and his highly articulate son.
Other important facts arise, not in the course of the main plot, but through Moses' letters and memory. We learn
that before Moses married Madeleine, he was married to a woman named Daisy, with whom he had had a son named
Marco. We also learn that Moses was raised in a Jewish immigrant family in LaRoux, Canada, and that his father Johan
failed in many business ventures and eventually became a bootlegger. Moses also recounts tales of his brothers and sister
(Will, Shura, and Helen). Moses constantly mentions his efforts as a writer. He published one book entitled Romanticism
and Christianity, which gained critical acclaim as time passed, despite an initially chilly critical response. His never
completed the intended second volume of the book.

Revolutionary Road Summary, Richard Yates

When first published in 1961, Richard Yates's novel Revolutionary Road was hailed as a masterpiece of realistic
fiction. Its portrayal of suburban discontent was a fresh concept at the time, and its themes are still applicable to those
alienated by the pursuit of the American Dream.
The story focuses on Frank and April Wheeler, a young couple living with their two children in a Connecticut
suburb in the mid-1950s. The characters struggle to feel fulfilled in their choices of relationship and career.
Frank has a well-paying office job with Knox Business Machines, but April missed an opportunity for a career in
acting. As the book opens, April is performing in a local theater troupe's production of The Petrified Forest. On opening
night, Aprils performance is awful. The experience leaves them both feeling humiliated and leads to one of the many
unresolved fights the couple will have.
The Wheelers consider themselves to be above the ordinary people who populate the suburbs. After a variety of
fights, empty nights of entertaining, and an affair on Frank's part, the Wheelers decide to move to France, to leave America
and its consuming capitalism behind. April plans to work for NATO while Frank will take time to figure out what he wants
to do. Their relationship suffers from jealousy and their goals for self-fulfillment are at risk, especially when April becomes
pregnant with their third child. Their children also suffer from trying to please their parents and to understand them.
Reviewers point out Yatess way of hypnotizing readers with the boredom of the Wheelers' lives. He masterfully
captures the tone and drama of key moments, such as when April and Frank are humiliated by the theater efforts, or when
they try to help their friend's sick son.

Summary of separating by john Updike. The affluent Maples are getting a divorce, but they cannot decide on the right time
to tell their four children. They finally decide to break the news after their eldest, Judith, 19, returns from studying abroad in
England. Richard Maple hopes to make an announcement at the dinner table, while Joan prefers to tell the children
individually. After bickering, they finally agree that Joan's way is better. As one of his final tasks while he still lives in the
house, Richard replaces a lock on the porch door. Unaware that anything is wrong, his children happily mill around the
house as usual. Judith regales him with stories of her time in England. He sadly reflects that Judith is the only child that he
and Joan "endured together" (37) long enough to raise into adulthood. That night, the Maples serve a dinner of lobster and
champagne to welcome Judith back from her travels. Richard begins to cry at the table, something his children attempt to
ignore. Eventually John, the second-youngest at 15, asks his mother why Richard is crying. Joan tells the boy the truth, and
talk of the separation ripples through the dinner table. It becomes clear that Margaret, 13, the youngest child, somehow
figured out that her parents were separating and her fears are now named. John demands to know why Richard and Joan
failed to tell their children that they were having problems getting along. Richard tries to explain that they do get along but
they don't love each other, but trails off. John is drunk from the champagne, and begins playing with matches, holding them
close to his mother's face. He stuffs a cigarette into his mouth ands shows it to Margaret. Judith warns him to act mature.
After dinner, Richard and John go on a walk, over which John confides that he is frustrated with his new school as well as
the separation. Richard assures John that they will transfer him to a new school, as "life's too short to be miserable" (39).
Later, Joan reprimands Richard for crying at the table, because it made Joan look like the separation was all her idea. Both
parties agree, though, that they are lucky the children didn't think to ask whether the separation was caused by "a third
person." They realize that they still need to inform their second-oldest child, Dickie, 17, who has been away at a rock
concert. Richard will confront him alone, as the boy is most like him. After sleeping badly, Richard goes to the train station
to pick Dickie up after the concert. He dreads telling Dickie about the separation, and happily procrastinates by driving
Dickie's friends home. When he finally reveals the news, Dickie is stunned but takes it stoically. Richard confides that he
hates being the bearer of such bad news. On their way home, Richard acknowledges a home on their block that contains a
woman he hopes to marry. When they get home, Dickie goes to his room without another word. Joan and Richard go up to
say good night to Dickie. They offer to call him in sick to work, but he declines. As Richard goes to kiss his son good night,
Dickie turns and kisses him on the lips as "passionate as a woman" (41). With agony, he asks "Why?" Richard realizes that
after living with the decision for such a long time, he has forgotten why he is separating from his wife.

BELOVED, Toni Morrison

Beloved begins in 1873 in Cincinnati, Ohio, where Sethe, a former slave, has been living with her eighteen-yearold daughter Denver. Sethes mother-in-law, Baby Suggs, lived with them until her death eight years earlier. Just before
Baby Suggss death, Sethes two sons, Howard and Buglar, ran away. Sethe believes they fled because of the malevolent
presence of an abusive ghost that has haunted their house at 124 Bluestone Road for years. Denver, however, likes the ghost,
which everyone believes to be the spirit of her dead sister.
On the day the novel begins, Paul D, whom Sethe has not seen since they worked together on Mr. Garners Sweet
Home plantation in Kentucky approximately twenty years earlier, stops by Sethes house. His presence resurrects memories
that have lain buried in Sethes mind for almost two decades. From this point on, the story will unfold on two temporal
planes. The present in Cincinnati constitutes one plane, while a series of events that took place around twenty years earlier,
mostly in Kentucky, constitutes the other. This latter plane is accessed and described through the fragmented flashbacks of
the major characters. Accordingly, we frequently read these flashbacks several times, sometimes from varying perspectives,
with each successive narration of an event adding a little more information to the previous ones.
From these fragmented memories, the following story begins to emerge: Sethe, the protagonist, was born in the
South to an African mother she never knew. When she is thirteen, she is sold to the Garners, who own Sweet Home and
practice a comparatively benevolent kind of slavery. There, the other slaves, who are all men, lust after her but never touch
her. Their names are Sixo, Paul D, Paul A, Paul F, and Halle. Sethe chooses to marry Halle, apparently in part because he
has proven generous enough to buy his mothers freedom by hiring himself out on the weekends. Together, Sethe and Halle
have two sons, Howard and Buglar, as well as a baby daughter whose name we never learn. When she leaves Sweet Home,
Sethe is also pregnant with a fourth child. After the eventual death of the proprietor, Mr. Garner, the widowed Mrs. Garner
asks her sadistic, vehemently racist brother-in-law to help her run the farm. He is known to the slaves as schoolteacher, and
his oppressive presence makes life on the plantation even more unbearable than it had been before. The slaves decide to run.
Schoolteacher and his nephews anticipate the slaves escape, however, and capture Paul D and Sixo. Schoolteacher kills
Sixo and brings Paul D back to Sweet Home, where Paul D sees Sethe for what he believes will be the last time. She is still
intent on running, having already sent her children ahead to her mother-in-law Baby Suggss house in Cincinnati.
Invigorated by the recent capture, schoolteachers nephews seize Sethe in the barn and violate her, stealing the milk her
body is storing for her infant daughter. Unbeknownst to Sethe, Halle is watching the event from a loft above her, where he
lies frozen with horror. Afterward, Halle goes mad: Paul D sees him sitting by a churn with butter slathered all over his face.
Paul D, meanwhile, is forced to suffer the indignity of wearing an iron bit in his mouth.
When schoolteacher finds out that Sethe has reported his and his nephews misdeeds to Mrs. Garner, he has her
whipped severely, despite the fact that she is pregnant. Swollen and scarred, Sethe nevertheless runs away, but along the
way she collapses from exhaustion in a forest. A white girl, Amy Denver, finds her and nurses her back to health. When
Amy later helps Sethe deliver her baby in a boat, Sethe names this second daughter Denver after the girl who helped her.
Sethe receives further help from Stamp Paid, who rows her across the Ohio River to Baby Suggss house. Baby Suggs
cleans Sethe up before allowing her to see her three older children.
Sethe spends twenty-eight wonderful days in Cincinnati, where Baby Suggs serves as an unofficial preacher to the
black community. On the last day, however, schoolteacher comes for Sethe to take her and her children back to Sweet
Home. Rather than surrender her children to a life of dehumanizing slavery, she flees with them to the woodshed and tries to
kill them. Only the third child, her older daughter, dies, her throat having been cut with a handsaw by Sethe. Sethe later
arranges for the babys headstone to be carved with the word Beloved. The sheriff takes Sethe and Denver to jail, but a
group of white abolitionists, led by the Bodwins, fights for her release. Sethe returns to the house at 124, where Baby Suggs
has sunk into a deep depression. The community shuns the house, and the family continues to live in isolation.
Meanwhile, Paul D has endured torturous experiences in a chain gang in Georgia, where he was sent after trying to
kill Brandywine, a slave owner to whom he was sold by schoolteacher. His traumatic experiences have caused him to lock

away his memories, emotions, and ability to love in the tin tobacco box of his heart. One day, a fortuitous rainstorm
allows Paul D and the other chain gang members to escape. He travels northward by following the blossoming spring
flowers. Years later, he ends up on Sethes porch in Cincinnati.
Paul Ds arrival at 124 commences the series of events taking place in the present time frame. Prior to moving in,
Paul D chases the houses resident ghost away, which makes the already lonely Denver resent him from the start. Sethe and
Paul D look forward to a promising future together, until one day, on their way home from a carnival, they encounter a
strange young woman sleeping near the steps of 124. Most of the characters believe that the womanwho calls herself
Belovedis the embodied spirit of Sethes dead daughter, and the novel provides a wealth of evidence supporting this
interpretation. Denver develops an obsessive attachment to Beloved, and Beloveds attachment to Sethe is equally if not
more intense. Paul D and Beloved hate each other, and Beloved controls Paul D by moving him around the house like a rag
doll and by seducing him against his will.
When Paul D learns the story of Sethes rough choiceher infanticidehe leaves 124 and begins sleeping in the
basement of the local church. In his absence, Sethe and Beloveds relationship becomes more intense and exclusive.
Beloved grows increasingly abusive, manipulative, and parasitic, and Sethe is obsessed with satisfying Beloveds demands
and making her understand why she murdered her. Worried by the way her mother is wasting away, Denver leaves the
premises of 124 for the first time in twelve years in order to seek help from Lady Jones, her former teacher. The community
provides the family with food and eventually organizes under the leadership of Ella, a woman who had worked on the
Underground Railroad and helped with Sethes escape, in order to exorcise Beloved from 124. When they arrive at Sethes
house, they see Sethe on the porch with Beloved, who stands smiling at them, naked and pregnant. Mr. Bodwin, who has
come to 124 to take Denver to her new job, arrives at the house. Mistaking him for schoolteacher, Sethe runs at Mr. Bodwin
with an ice pick. She is restrained, but in the confusion Beloved disappears, never to return.
Afterward, Paul D comes back to Sethe, who has retreated to Baby Suggss bed to die. Mourning Beloved, Sethe
laments, She was my best thing. But Paul D replies, You your best thing, Sethe. The novel then ends with a warning
that [t]his is not a story to pass on. The town, and even the residents of 124, have forgotten Beloved [l]ike an unpleasant
dream during a troubling sleep.

Sethe, the protagonist of the novel, is a proud and noble woman. She insists on sewing a proper wedding dress for
the first night she spends with Halle, and she finds schoolteachers lesson on her animal characteristics more debilitating
than his nephews sexual and physical abuse. Although the communitys shunning of Sethe and Baby Suggs for thinking too
highly of themselves is unfair, the fact that Sethe prefers to steal food from the restaurant where she works rather than wait
on line with the rest of the black community shows that she does consider herself different from the rest of the blacks in her
neighborhood. Yet, Sethe is not too proud to accept support from others in every instance. Despite her independence (and
her distrust of men), she welcomes Paul D and the companionship he offers. Sethes most striking characteristic, however, is
her devotion to her children. Unwilling to relinquish her children to the physical, emotional, and spiritual trauma she has
endured as a slave, she tries to murder them in an act that is, in her mind, one of motherly love and protection. Her
memories of this cruel act and of the brutality she herself suffered as a slave infuse her everyday life and lead her to contend
that past trauma can never really be eradicatedit continues, somehow, to exist in the present. She thus spends her life
attempting to avoid encounters with her past. Perhaps Sethes fear of the past is what leads her to ignore the overwhelming
evidence that Beloved is the reincarnation of her murdered daughter. Indeed, even after she acknowledges Beloveds
identity, Sethe shows herself to be still enslaved by the past, because she quickly succumbs to Beloveds demands and
allows herself to be consumed by Beloved. Only when Sethe learns to confront the past head-on, to assert herself in its
presence, can she extricate herself from its oppressive power and begin to live freely, peacefully, and responsibly in the
Denver.Sethes daughter Denver is the most dynamic character in the novel. She is shy, intelligent, introspective,
sensitive, and inclined to spend hours alone in her emerald closet, a sylvan space formed by boxwood bushes. Her mother
considers Denver a charmed child who has miraculously survived, and throughout the book Denver is in close contact

with the supernatural. Despite Denvers abilities to cope, she has been stunted emotionally by years of relative isolation.
Though eighteen years old, she acts much younger, maintaining an intense fear of the world outside 124 and a perilously
fragile sense of self. Indeed, her self-conception remains so tentative that she feels slighted by the idea of a world that does
not include hereven the world of slavery at Sweet Home. Denver defines her identity in relation to Sethe. She also defines
herself in relation to her sisterfirst in the form of the baby ghost, then in the form of Beloved. When she feels that she is
being excluded from her familys attentionsfor example, when her mother devotes her energies to Paul DDenver feels
threatened and angry. Correspondingly, she treats Paul D coldly much of the time.
In the face of Beloveds escalating malevolence and her mothers submissiveness, Denver is forced to step outside
the world of 124. Filled with a sense of duty, purpose, and courage, she enlists the help of the community and cares for her
increasingly self-involved mother and sister. She enters a series of lessons with Miss Bodwin and considers attending
Oberlin College someday. Her last conversation with Paul D underscores her newfound maturity: she presents herself with
more civility and sincerity than in the past and asserts that she now has her own opinions.
Beloved. Beloveds elusive, complex identity is central to our understanding of the novel. She may, as Sethe originally
believes, be an ordinary woman who was locked up by a white man and never let out of doors. Her limited linguistic ability,
neediness, baby-soft skin, and emotional instability could all be explained by a lifetime spent in captivity. But these traits
could also support the theory that is held by most of the characters in the novel, as well as most readers: Beloved is the
embodied spirit of Sethes dead daughter. Beloved is the age the baby would have been had it lived, and she bears the name
printed on the babys tombstone. She first appears to Sethe soaking wet, as though newly born, and Sethe has the sensation
of her water breaking when she sees her. Additionally, Beloved knows about a pair of earrings Sethe possessed long ago, she
hums a song Sethe made up for her children, she has a long scar under her chin where her death-wound would have been
dealt, and her breath smells like milk.
A third interpretation views Beloved as a representation of Sethes dead mother. In Chapter 22, Beloved recounts
memories that correspond to those that Sethes mother might have had of her passage to America from Africa. Beloved has a
strange manner of speaking and seems to wear a perpetual smiletraits we are told were shared by Sethes mother. By
Chapter 26, Beloved and Sethe have switched places, with Beloved acting as the mother and Sethe as the child. Their role
reversal may simply mark more explicitly what has been Beloveds role all along. On a more general level, Beloved may
also stand for all of the slaves who made the passage across the Atlantic. She may give voice to and embody the collective
unconscious of all those oppressed by slaverys history and legacy.
Beloved is presented as an allegorical figure. Whether she is Sethes daughter, Sethes mother, or a representative
of all of slaverys victims, Beloved represents the past returned to haunt the present. The characters confrontations with
Beloved and, consequently, their pasts, are complex. The interaction between Beloved and Sethe is given particular attention
in the book. Once Sethe reciprocates Beloveds violent passion for her, the two become locked in a destructive, exclusive,
parasitic relationship. When she is with Beloved, Sethe is paralyzed in the past. She devotes all her attention to making
Beloved understand why she reacted to schoolteachers arrival the way she did. Paradoxically, Beloveds presence is
enabling at the same time that it is destructive. Beloved allows and inspires Sethe to tell the stories she never tellsstories
about her own feelings of abandonment by her mother, about the harshest indignities she suffered at Sweet Home, and about
her motivations for murdering her daughter. By engaging with her past, Sethe begins to learn about herself and the extent of
her ability to live in the present.
Beloved also inspires the growth of other characters in the novel. Though Paul Ds hatred for Beloved never
ceases, their strange, dreamlike sexual encounters open the lid of his tobacco tin heart, allowing him to remember, feel,
and love again. Denver benefits the most from Beloveds presence, though indirectly. At first she feels an intense
dependence on Beloved, convinced that in Beloveds absence she has no self of her own. Later, however, Beloveds
increasingly malevolent, temperamental, self-centered actions alert Denver to the dangers of the past Beloved represents.
Ultimately, Beloveds tyranny over Sethe forces Denver to leave 124 and seek help in the community. Denvers exile from
124 marks the beginning of her social integration and of her search for independence and self-possession.

Although Beloved vanishes at the end of the book, she is never really goneher dress and her story, forgotten by
the town but preserved by the novel, remain. Beloved represents a destructive and painful past, but she also signals the
possibility of a brighter future. She gives the people of 124, and eventually the entire community, a chance to engage with
the memories they have suppressed. Through confrontation, the community can reclaim and learn from its forgotten and
ignored memories.

Playing in the Dark

Remove the name Toni Morrison, however, and PLAYING IN THE DARK would be an unlikely best-seller indeed. For
some time now, literary critics have assiduously been exploring the impact of what Morrison terms the Africanist
presence on the American literary imagination. In fact, this has been one of the most fashionable lines of inquiry in
contemporary criticism. Astonishingly, Morrison for the most part assumes the role of a pioneer, writing as if this enormous
body of scholarship didnt exist.

Like many contemporary academics, Morrison does not merely assert the importance of the Africanist presence, slighted
by earlier generations of scholars; she goes to the opposite extreme, claiming that the very manner by which American
literature distinguishes itself as a coherent entity exists because of this unsettled and unsettling populationthat is, the
black population of the United States. And like many academics, Morrison-the-critic frequently expresses herself in leaden,
jargon-laden prose: Living in a racially articulated and predicated world, I could not be alone in reacting to this aspect of
the American cultural and historical condition. In her preface, she refers to the wholly racialized society that is the United
States, a characterization repeated in the text, yet nowhere does she explain the meaning of this suitably portentous
indictment. What constitutes a wholly racialized society? Do those words have any meaning? In PLAYING IN THE
DARK, Morrison has betrayed the writers fundamental responsibility to use language with precision.

EVERYDAY USE, Alice Walker

Mama decides that she will wait in the yard for her daughter Dees arrival. Mama knows that her other daughter,
Maggie, will be nervous throughout Dees stay, self-conscious of her scars and burn marks and jealous of Dees much easier
life. Mama fantasizes about reunion scenes on television programs in which a successful daughter embraces the parents who
have made her success possible. Sometimes Mama imagines reuniting with Dee in a similar scenario, in a television studio
where an amiable host brings out a tearful Dee, who pins orchids on Mamas dress. Whereas Mama is sheepish about the
thought of looking a white man in the eye, Dee is more assertive. Mamas musing is interrupted by Maggies shuffling
arrival in the yard. Mama remembers the house fire that happened more than a decade ago, when she carried Maggie, badly
burned, out of the house. Dee watched the flames engulf the house she despised.
Back then, Mama believed that Dee hated Maggie, until Mama and the community raised enough money to send
Dee to school in Augusta. Mama resented the intimidating world of ideas and education that Dee forced on her family on
her trips home. Mama never went to school beyond second grade. Maggie can read only in a limited capacity. Mama looks
forward to Maggies marriage to John Thomas, after which Mama can peacefully relax and sing hymns at home.
When Dee arrives, Mama grips Maggie to prevent her from running back into the house. Dee emerges from the car
with her boyfriend, Hakim-a-barber. Mama disapproves of the strange mans presence and is equally disapproving of Dees
dress and appearance. Hakim-a-barber greets and tries to hug Maggie, who recoils.

Dee gets a camera from the car and takes a few pictures of Mama and Maggie in front of their house. She then puts
the camera on the backseat and kisses Mama on the forehead, as Hakim-a-barber awkwardly tries to shake Maggies hand.
Dee tells her mother that she has changed her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo to protest being named after the people
who have oppressed her. Mama tells Dee that she was in fact named after her Aunt Dicie, who was named after Grandma
Dee, who bore the name of her mother as well. Mama struggles with the pronunciation of Dees new African name. Dee
says she doesnt have to use the new name, but Mama learns to say it, although she is unable to master Hakims name.
Mama says that he must be related to the Muslims who live down the road and tend beef cattle and also greet people by
saying Asalamalakim. Hakim-a-barber says he accepts some of their doctrines but is not into farming or herding.
Mama wonders whether Hakim-a-barber and Dee are married. Sitting down to eat, Hakim-a-barber states that he
does not eat collard greens or pork. Dee, however, eats heartily, delighted by the fact that the family still uses the benches
her father made. Hopping up, she approaches the butter churn in the corner and asks Mama if she can have its top, which
had been carved by Uncle Buddy. Dee wants the dasher too, a device with blades used to make butter. Hakim-a-barber asks
if Uncle Buddy whittled the dash as well, to which Maggie replies that it was Aunt Dees first husband, Stash, who made
it. Dee praises Maggies memory and wraps the items. Mama grips the handle of the dasher, examining the ruts and worn
areas made by her relatives hands.
Dee ransacks the trunk at the foot of Mamas bed, reappearing with two quilts made by her mother, aunt, and
grandmother. The quilts contain small pieces of garments worn by relatives all the way back to the Civil War. Dee asks her
mother for the quilts. Mama hears Maggie drop something in the kitchen and then slam the door. Mama suggests that Dee
take other quilts, but Dee insists, wanting the ones hand-stitched by her grandmother. Mama gets up and tries to tell Dee
more about the garments used to make the quilts, but Dee steps out of reach. Mama reveals that she had promised Maggie
the quilts. Dee gasps, arguing that Maggie wont appreciate the quilts and isnt smart enough to preserve them. But Mama
hopes that Maggie does, indeed, designate the quilts for everyday use.
Dee says that the priceless quilts will be destroyed. Mama says that Maggie knows how to quilt and can make
more. Maggie shuffles in and, trying to make peace, offers Dee the quilts. When Mama looks at Maggie, she is struck by a
strange feeling, similar to the spirit she feels sometimes in church. Impulsively, she hugs Maggie, pulls her into the room,
snatches the quilts out of Dees hands, and places them in Maggies lap. She tells Dee to take one or two of the other quilts.
As Dee and Hakim-a-barber leave, Dee informs Mama that Mama does not understand her own heritage. Kissing Maggie,
Dee tells her to try and improve herself and that its a new day for black Americans. Mama and Maggie watch the car drive
off, then sit in the quiet of the yard until bedtime.

Mama, the narrator of the story, is a strong, loving mother who is sometimes threatened and burdened by her
daughters, Dee and Maggie. Gentle and stern, her inner monologue offers us a glimpse of the limits of a mothers
unconditional love. Mama is brutally honest and often critical in her assessment of both Dee and Maggie. She harshly
describes shy, withering Maggies limitations, and Dee provokes an even more pointed evaluation. Mama resents the
education, sophistication, and air of superiority that Dee has acquired over the years. Mama fantasizes about reuniting with
Dee on a television talk show and about Dee expressing gratitude to Mama for all Mama has done for her. This brief fantasy
reveals the distance between the twoand how underappreciated Mama feels. Despite this brief daydream, Mama remains
a practical woman with few illusions about how things are.
Just as Dee embraces an alternative persona when she renames herself Wangero, Mama rejected a traditional
gender role when she worked to raise and provide for her daughters and took on an alternative, masculine persona. She is
proud of her hardy nature and ability to butcher hogs and milk cows. In the story, she literally turns her back on the house,
the traditionally female space. She feels that it confines her too much. Despite her willingness to operate outside of
conventions, Mama lacks a broad view of the world and is, to some extent, intimidated by Dee. She doesnt understand
Dees life, and this failure to understand leads her to distrust Dee. Dee sees her new persona as liberating, whereas Mama

sees it as a rejection of her family and her origins. It is not surprising that she names familiar Maggie as the caretaker of the
familys heritage.
Maggie. Nervous and maladjusted, Maggie is a figure of purity, uncorrupted by selfishness or complex emotional
needs. Severely burned in a house fire when she was a child, her scarred, ugly appearance hides her sympathetic, generous
nature. She lives at home and is protected by Mama, remaining virtually untouched by the outside world. As much as her
homebound isolation protects her, she is also a victim of this seclusion: she suffers from a crippling shyness and lack of
education. Maggie moves with a meek, shuffling gait and hovers awkwardly in doorways rather than getting involved in life
around her. Although Mama mentions that Maggie is going to marry John Thomas, it is doubtful that even a marriage will
help Maggie become a strong and clearly defined individual. Mama, protective as she is of Maggie, is frank about her
shortcomings and problems.
Maggies relationship with Dee is rife with jealousy and awe. Mama recalls how Maggie had always thought Dee
had been gifted with an easy life in which her hopes and desires were rarely, if ever, frustrated. Maggie seems to have taken
both sisters difficulties onto her own shoulders, and although she never says explicitly that she finds it unfair, she clearly
thinks so. The only time Maggie reveals the extent of her innermost desires is when Dee attempts to take the quilts that
Mama had promised to Maggie. Maggie drops plates in the kitchen and then slams the door, outraged. Later, although she
tries to win Dees favor by giving up the quilts, her reluctance to do so stirs pity and anger in Mama. Maggie does have a
will, and although it is buried deep inside her, it comes through when what she desires most in the world is about to be taken
Dee is the object of jealousy, awe, and agitation among her family members, while as an individual she searches
for personal meaning and a stronger sense of self. Dees judgmental nature has affected Mama and Maggie, and desire for
Dees approval runs deep in both of themit even appears in Mamas daydreams about a televised reunion. However, Dee
does not make much of an effort to win the approval of Mama and Maggie. Unflappable, not easily intimidated, and
brimming with confidence, Dee comes across as arrogant and insensitive, and Mama sees even her admirable qualities as
extreme and annoying. Mama sees Dees thirst for knowledge as a provocation, a haughty act through which she asserts her
superiority over her mother and sister. Dee is also portrayed as condescending, professing her commitment to visit Mama
and Maggie no matter what ramshackle shelter they decide to inhabit. Far from signaling a brand-new Dee or truly being an
act of resistance, the new persona, Wangero, comes across as an attention-seeking ploy in keeping with Dees usual
selfishness. Dee says she is reclaiming her heritage, but she has actually rejected it more violently than ever before.
Through Dee, Walker challenges individualsincluding activists, separatists, or otherwisewho ignore or reject their
heritage. These people prefer to connect themselves to an idealized Africa instead of to the lessons and harsh realities that
characterized the black experience in America. Dee and Hakim-a-barber are aligned with the abstract realm of ideology,
which contrasts starkly with the earthy, physical, labor-intensive lifestyle of Mama and Maggie. Dee is intrigued by their
rustic realism, snapping photographs as though they are subjects of a documentary, and in doing so effectively cuts herself
off from her family. Instead of honoring and embracing her roots, Dee looks down on her surroundings, believing herself to
be above them.

INVISIBLE MAN, Ralph Ellison

The narrator begins telling his story with the claim that he is an invisible man. His invisibility, he says, is not a
physical conditionhe is not literally invisiblebut is rather the result of the refusal of others to see him. He says that
because of his invisibility, he has been hiding from the world, living underground and stealing electricity from the
Monopolated Light & Power Company. He burns 1,369 light bulbs simultaneously and listens to Louis Armstrongs (What

Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue on a phonograph. He says that he has gone underground in order to write the story of
his life and invisibility.
As a young man, in the late 1920s or early 1930s, the narrator lived in the South. Because he is a gifted public
speaker, he is invited to give a speech to a group of important white men in his town. The men reward him with a briefcase
containing a scholarship to a prestigious black college, but only after humiliating him by forcing him to fight in a battle
royal in which he is pitted against other young black men, all blindfolded, in a boxing ring. After the battle royal, the white
men force the youths to scramble over an electrified rug in order to snatch at fake gold coins. The narrator has a dream that
night in which he imagines that his scholarship is actually a piece of paper reading To Whom It May Concern . . . Keep
This Nigger-Boy Running.
Three years later, the narrator is a student at the college. He is asked to drive a wealthy white trustee of the college,
Mr. Norton, around the campus. Norton talks incessantly about his daughter, then shows an undue interest in the narrative of
Jim Trueblood, a poor, uneducated black man who impregnated his own daughter. After hearing this story, Norton needs a
drink, and the narrator takes him to the Golden Day, a saloon and brothel that normally serves black men. A fight breaks out
among a group of mentally imbalanced black veterans at the bar, and Norton passes out during the chaos. He is tended by
one of the veterans, who claims to be a doctor and who taunts both Norton and the narrator for their blindness regarding
race relations.
Back at the college, the narrator listens to a long, impassioned sermon by the Reverend Homer A. Barbee on the
subject of the colleges Founder, whom the blind Barbee glorifies with poetic language. After the sermon, the narrator is
chastised by the college president, Dr. Bledsoe, who has learned of the narrators misadventures with Norton at the old slave
quarters and the Golden Day. Bledsoe rebukes the narrator, saying that he should have shown the white man an idealized
version of black life. He expels the narrator, giving him seven letters of recommendation addressed to the colleges white
trustees in New York City, and sends him there in search of a job.
The narrator travels to the bright lights and bustle of 1930s Harlem, where he looks unsuccessfully for work. The
letters of recommendation are of no help. At last, the narrator goes to the office of one of his letters addressees, a trustee
named Mr. Emerson. There he meets Emersons son, who opens the letter and tells the narrator that he has been betrayed:
the letters from Bledsoe actually portray the narrator as dishonorable and unreliable. The young Emerson helps the narrator
to get a low-paying job at the Liberty Paints plant, whose trademark color is Optic White. The narrator briefly serves as
an assistant to Lucius Brockway, the black man who makes this white paint, but Brockway suspects him of joining in union
activities and turns on him. The two men fight, neglecting the paint-making; consequently, one of the unattended tanks
explodes, and the narrator is knocked unconscious.
The narrator wakes in the paint factorys hospital, having temporarily lost his memory and ability to speak. The
white doctors seize the arrival of their unidentified black patient as an opportunity to conduct electric shock experiments.
After the narrator recovers his memory and leaves the hospital, he collapses on the street. Some black community members
take him to the home of Mary, a kind woman who lets him live with her for free in Harlem and nurtures his sense of black
heritage. One day, the narrator witnesses the eviction of an elderly black couple from their Harlem apartment. Standing
before the crowd of people gathered before the apartment, he gives an impassioned speech against the eviction. Brother Jack
overhears his speech and offers him a position as a spokesman for the Brotherhood, a political organization that allegedly
works to help the socially oppressed. After initially rejecting the offer, the narrator takes the job in order to pay Mary back
for her hospitality. But the Brotherhood demands that the narrator take a new name, break with his past, and move to a new
apartment. The narrator is inducted into the Brotherhood at a party at the Chthonian Hotel and is placed in charge of
advancing the groups goals in Harlem.
After being trained in rhetoric by a white member of the group named Brother Hambro, the narrator goes to his
assigned branch in Harlem, where he meets the handsome, intelligent black youth leader Tod Clifton. He also becomes
familiar with the black nationalist leader Ras the Exhorter, who opposes the interracial Brotherhood and believes that black
Americans should fight for their rights over and against all whites. The narrator delivers speeches and becomes a high-

profile figure in the Brotherhood, and he enjoys his work. One day, however, he receives an anonymous note warning him
to remember his place as a black man in the Brotherhood. Not long after, the black Brotherhood member Brother Wrestrum
accuses the narrator of trying to use the Brotherhood to advance a selfish desire for personal distinction. While a committee
of the Brotherhood investigates the charges, the organization moves the narrator to another post, as an advocate of womens
rights. After giving a speech one evening, he is seduced by one of the white women at the gathering, who attempts to use
him to play out her sexual fantasies about black men.
After a short time, the Brotherhood sends the narrator back to Harlem, where he discovers that Clifton has
disappeared. Many other black members have left the group, as much of the Harlem community feels that the Brotherhood
has betrayed their interests. The narrator finds Clifton on the street selling dancing Sambo dollsdolls that invoke the
stereotype of the lazy and obsequious slave. Clifton apparently does not have a permit to sell his wares on the street. White
policemen accost him and, after a scuffle, shoot him dead as the narrator and others look on. On his own initiative, the
narrator holds a funeral for Clifton and gives a speech in which he portrays his dead friend as a hero, galvanizing public
sentiment in Cliftons favor. The Brotherhood is furious with him for staging the funeral without permission, and Jack
harshly castigates him. As Jack rants about the Brotherhoods ideological stance, a glass eye falls from one of his eye
sockets. The Brotherhood sends the narrator back to Brother Hambro to learn about the organizations new strategies in
The narrator leaves feeling furious and anxious to gain revenge on Jack and the Brotherhood. He arrives in Harlem
to find the neighborhood in ever-increased agitation over race relations. Ras confronts him, deploring the Brotherhoods
failure to draw on the momentum generated by Cliftons funeral. Ras sends his men to beat up the narrator, and the narrator
is forced to disguise himself in dark glasses and a hat. In his dark glasses, many people on the streets mistake him for
someone named Rinehart, who seems to be a pimp, bookie, lover, and reverend all at once. At last, the narrator goes to
Brother Hambros apartment, where Hambro tells him that the Brotherhood has chosen not to emphasize Harlem and the
black movement. He cynically declares that people are merely tools and that the larger interests of the Brotherhood are more
important than any individual. Recalling advice given to him by his grandfather, the narrator determines to undermine the
Brotherhood by seeming to go along with them completely. He decides to flatter and seduce a woman close to one of the
party leaders in order to obtain secret information about the group.
But the woman he chooses, Sybil, knows nothing about the Brotherhood and attempts to use the narrator to fulfill
her fantasy of being raped by a black man. While still with Sybil in his apartment, the narrator receives a call asking him to
come to Harlem quickly. The narrator hears the sound of breaking glass, and the line goes dead. He arrives in Harlem to find
the neighborhood in the midst of a full-fledged riot, which he learns was incited by Ras. The narrator becomes involved in
setting fire to a tenement building. Running from the scene of the crime, he encounters Ras, dressed as an African chieftain.
Ras calls for the narrator to be lynched. The narrator flees, only to encounter two policemen, who suspect that his briefcase
contains loot from the riots. In his attempt to evade them, the narrator falls down a manhole. The police mock him and draw
the cover over the manhole.
The narrator says that he has stayed underground ever since; the end of his story is also the beginning. He states
that he finally has realized that he must honor his individual complexity and remain true to his own identity without
sacrificing his responsibility to the community. He says that he finally feels ready to emerge from underground.
The Narrator
The narrator not only tells the story of Invisible Man, he is also its principal character. Because Invisible Man is a
bildungsroman (a type of novel that chronicles a characters moral and psychological growth), the narrative and thematic
concerns of the story revolve around the development of the narrator as an individual. Additionally, because the narrator
relates the story in the first person, the text doesnt truly probe the consciousness of any other figure in the story. Ironically,
though he dominates the novel, the narrator remains somewhat obscure to the reader; most notably, he never reveals his
name. The names that he is given in the hospital and in the Brotherhood, the name of his college, even the state in which the

college is locatedthese all go unidentified. The narrator remains a voice and never emerges as an external and quantifiable
presence. This obscurity emphasizes his status as an invisible man.
For much of the story, and especially in the chapters before he joins the Brotherhood, the narrator remains
extremely innocent and inexperienced. He is prone to think the best of people even when he has reason not to, and he
remains consistently respectful of authority. The narrators innocence sometimes causes him to misunderstand important
events in the story, often making it necessary for the reader to look past the narrators own interpretation of events in order
to see Ellisons real intentions. Ellison uses heavy irony to allow the reader to see things that the narrator misses. After the
battle royal in Chapter 1, for instance, the narrator accepts his scholarship from the brutish white men with gladness and
gratitude. Although he passes no judgment on the white mens behavior, the mens actions provide enough evidence for the
reader to denounce the men as appalling racists. While the narrator can be somewhat unreliable in this regard, Ellison makes
sure that the reader perceives the narrators blindness.
Further, because the narrator supposedly writes his story as a memoir and not while it is taking place, he also
comes to recognize his former blindness. As a result, just as a division exists between Ellison and the narrator, a division
arises between the narrator as a narrator and the narrator as a character. Ellison renders the narrators voice as that of a man
looking back on his experiences with greater perspective, but he ensures that the reader sees into the mind of the stillinnocent character. He does so by having the narrator recall how he perceived of events when they happened rather than
offer commentary on these events with the benefit of hindsight.
The narrators innocence prevents him from recognizing the truth behind others errant behavior and leads him to
try to fulfill their misguided expectations. He remains extremely vulnerable to the identity that society thrusts upon him as
an African American. He plays the role of the servile black man to the white men in Chapter 1; he plays the industrious,
uncomplaining disciple of Booker T. Washington during his college years; he agrees to act as the Brotherhoods black
spokesperson, which allows the Brotherhood to use him. But the narrator also proves very intelligent and deeply
introspective, and as a result, he is able to realize the extent to which his social roles limit him from discovering his
individual identity. He gradually assumes a mask of invisibility in order to rebel against this limitation.
The narrator first dons the mask after his falling-out with the Brotherhood, in Chapter 22. He becomes even more
invisible in Chapter 23, when, escaping Rass henchmen, he disguises himself behind dark glasses and a hat, unintentionally
inducing others to mistake him for the nebulous Rinehart. Finally, in Chapter 25, he retreats underground. Yet, in the act of
telling his story, the narrator comes to realize the danger of invisibility: while it preempts others attempts to define him, it
also preempts his own attempts to define and express himself. He concludes his story determined to honor his own
complexity rather than subdue it in the interest of a group or ideology. Though most of the narrators difficulties arise from
the fact that he is black, Ellison repeatedly emphasized his intent to render the narrator as a universal character, a
representation of the struggle to define oneself against societal expectations.
Brother Jack. Ellison uses Brother Jack, the leader of the Brotherhood, to point out the failure of abstract ideologies
to address the real plight of African Americans and other victims of oppression. At first, Jack seems kind, compassionate,
intelligent, and helpful, a real boon to the struggling narrator, to whom he gives money, a job, andseeminglya way to
help his people fight against prejudice. But as the story progresses, it becomes clear that the narrator is just as invisible to
Jack as he is to everyone else. Jack sees him not as a person but as a tool for the advancement of the Brotherhoods goals. It
eventually becomes clear to the narrator that Jack shares the same racial prejudices as the rest of white American society,
and, when the Brotherhoods focus changes, Jack abandons the black community without regret.
The narrators discovery that Jack has a glass eye occurs as Jack enters into a fierce tirade on the aims of the
Brotherhood. His literal blindness thus symbolizes how his unwavering commitment to the Brotherhoods ideology has
blinded him, metaphorically, to the plight of blacks. He tells the narrator, We do not shape our policies to the mistaken and
infantile notions of the man in the street. Our job is not to ask them what they think but to tell them! Throughout the book,
Jack explains the Brotherhoods goals in terms of an abstract ideology. He tells the narrator in Chapter 14 that the group
works for a better world for all people and that the organization is striving to remedy the effects of too many people being

dispossessed of their heritage. He and the other brothers attempt to make the narrators own speeches more scientific,
injecting them with abstractions and jargon in order to distance them from the hard realities that the narrator seeks to
To many black intellectuals in the 1930s, including Ellison, the Communist Party in particular seemed to offer the
kind of salvation that Jack appears to embodyonly to betray and discard the African-American cause as the partys focus
shifted in the early 1940s. Ellisons treatment of the Brotherhood is largely a critique of the poor treatment that he believed
the black community had received from communism, and Jack, with his red hair, seems to symbolize this betrayal.
Ras the Exhorter
One of the most memorable characters in the novel, Ras the Exhorter (later called Ras the Destroyer) is a powerful
figure who seems to embody Ellisons fears for the future of the civil rights battle in America. Rass name, which literally
means Prince in one of the languages of Ethiopia, sounds simultaneously like race and Ra, the Egyptian sun god.
These allusions capture the essence of the character: as a passionate black nationalist, Ras is obsessed with the idea of race;
as a magnificently charismatic leader, he has a kind of godlike power in the novel, even if he doesnt show a deitys
wisdom. Rass guiding philosophy, radical at the time the novel was published, states that blacks should cast off oppression
and prejudice by destroying the ability of white men to control them. This philosophy leads inevitably to violence, and, as a
result, both Ellison and the narrator fear and oppose such notions. Yet, although Ellison objects to the ideology that Ras
embodies, he never portrays him as a clear-cut villain. Throughout the novel, the reader witnesses Ras exert a magnetic pull
on crowds of black Americans in Harlem. He offers hope and courage to many. By the late 1960s, many black leaders,
including Malcolm X, were advocating ideas very similar to those of Ras.
Ras, who is depicted as a West Indian, has reminded many critics of Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican-born black nationalist who
was influential in the early 1920s. Like Ras, Garvey was a charismatic racial separatist with a love of flamboyant costumes
who advocated black pride and argued against integration with whites. (Garvey even endorsed the Ku Klux Klan for
working to keep whites and blacks separate.) However, Ellison consistently denied patterning Ras specifically on Garvey. If
any link does exist, it is probably only that Garvey inspired the idea of Ras, not that Ellison attempted to recreate Garvey in
Paul Auster's City of Glass, the first book in The New York Trilogy, is a story about a writer called Daniel Quinn.
Quinn uses the pseudonym William Wilson and his intention to write is his attempt to evade his grief, caused by the death of
his wife and his son. On a succession of evenings, late at night, the phone rings. The caller wants to talk to a private
detective called Paul Auster. Quinn tries to tell the caller that he has the wrong number but the voice is too fixated to accept
any answer. At last, Quinn agrees to meet his caller, whose name is Peter Stillman and assumes the identity of Paul Auster.
Then a real detective story begins because Peter Stillman wants Quinn to protect him from his insane father, whom Quinn
should find for him. So much for the plot of the novel.
Then this investigation by Daniel Quinn actually ends and the novel tends to offer a prototype for metaphysical
detective fiction. This is a genre, marked by its use and abuse of the conventions of the classic detective story. While the
classic detective arrives at a solution to a crime, the more recent metaphysical sleuth finds himself confronting the insoluble
mysteries of his own interpretation and his own identity. The novel then turns into a search for the identity of the main
character. Auster's work in particular has been recognized for its investigation of such mysteries.
In City of Glass, however, the seeker can never arrive at his desired destination because in this world, the
distinction between self and other no longer holds, which is also true for Daniel Quinn. He loses himself in the streets of
New York and at the end, he disappears in madness. Language and identity are not the only insoluble mysteries that we
confront within the pages of City of Glass.
Auster's novel also speculates on the nature and the production of social space which includes exploring the
connections between those two aspects. Just as Auster's fiction brings up the notions of language and identity that subtend
the logic of the traditional detective, City of Glass also undermines conventional notions of urban space as a rationally
ordered environment. Quinn's understanding of language and identity are in fact connected to his conception of space.
Significantly, once facing the loss of both, a coherent identity and a determinate language, Auster's detective seeks spatial

solutions, or a rationally ordered social space in which he may still have a place. Such spaces fail to materialize, leaving
Quinn bereft of the security he desires.
The play is set in the summer home of the Tyrone family, August 1912. The action begins in the morning, just after
breakfast. We learn as the first act unravels that Mary has returned to her family recently after receiving treatment in a
sanatorium for morphine addiction. Edmund, meanwhile, has in recent weeks begun to cough very violently, and we learn
later on in the play that, as Tyrone and Jamie suspect, he has tuberculosis. Throughout the course of the play, we slowly find
out that Mary is still addicted to morphine, much to the disappointment of her family members.
The gradual revelation of these two medical disasters makes up most of the play's plot. In between these
discoveries, however, the family constantly revisits old fights and opens old wounds left by the past, which the family
members are never unable to forget. Tyrone, for example, is constantly blamed for his own stinginess, which may have led
to Mary's morphine addiction when he refused to pay for a good doctor to treat the pain caused by childbirth. Mary, on the
other hand, is never able to let go of the past or admit to the painful truth of the present, the truth that she is addicted to
morphine and her youngest son has tuberculosis. They all argue over Jamie and Edmund's failure to become successes as
their father had always hoped they would become. As the day wears on, the men drink more and more, until they are on the
verge of passing out in Act IV.
Most of the plot of the play is repetitious, just as the cycle of an alcoholic is repetitious. The above arguments
occur numerous times throughout the four acts and five scenes. All acts are set in the living room, and all scenes but the last
occur either just before or just after a meal. Act II, Scene i is set before lunch; scene ii after lunch; and Act III before dinner.
Each act focuses on interplay between two specific characters: Act I features Mary and Tyrone; Act II Tyrone and Jamie,
and Edmund and Mary; Act III Mary and Jamie; Act IV Tyrone and Edmund, and Edmund and Jamie.
The repetitious plot also helps develop the notion that this day is not remarkable in many ways. Instead, it is one in
a long string of similar days for the Tyrones, filled with bitterness, fighting, and an underlying love.
Blanche DuBois, a schoolteacher from Laurel, Mississippi, arrives at the New Orleans apartment of her sister,
Stella Kowalski. Despite the fact that Blanche seems to have fallen out of close contact with Stella, she intends to stay at
Stellas apartment for an unspecified but likely lengthy period of time, given the large trunk she has with her. Blanche tells
Stella that she lost Belle Reve, their ancestral home, following the death of all their remaining relatives. She also mentions
that she has been given a leave of absence from her teaching position because of her bad nerves.
Though Blanche does not seem to have enough money to afford a hotel, she is disdainful of the cramped quarters
of the Kowalskis two-room apartment and of the apartments location in a noisy, diverse, working-class neighborhood.
Blanches social condescension wins her the instant dislike of Stellas husband, an auto-parts supply man of Polish descent
named Stanley Kowalski. It is clear that Stella was happy to leave behind her the social pretensions of her background in
exchange for the sexual gratification she gets from her husband; she even is pregnant with his baby. Stanley immediately
distrusts Blanche to the extent that he suspects her of having cheated Stella out of her share of the family inheritance. In the
process of defending herself to Stanley, Blanche reveals that Belle Reve was lost due to a foreclosed mortgage, a disclosure
that signifies the dire nature of Blanches financial circumstances. Blanches heavy drinking, which she attempts to conceal
from her sister and brother-in-law, is another sign that all is not well with Blanche.
The unhappiness that accompanies the animal magnetism of Stella and Stanleys marriage reveals itself when
Stanley hosts a drunken poker game with his male friends at the apartment. Blanche gets under Stanleys skin, especially
when she starts to win the affections of his close friend Mitch. After Mitch has been absent for a while, speaking with
Blanche in the bedroom, Stanley erupts, storms into the bedroom, and throws the radio out of the window. When Stella yells
at Stanley and defends Blanche, Stanley beats her. The men pull him off, the poker game breaks up, and Blanche and Stella
escape to their upstairs neighbor Eunices apartment. A short while later, Stanley is remorseful and cries up to Stella to
forgive him. To Blanches alarm, Stella returns to Stanley and embraces him passionately. Mitch meets Blanche outside of
the Kowalski flat and comforts her in her distress.
The next day, Blanche tries to convince Stella to leave Stanley for a better man whose social status equals Stellas.
Blanche suggests that she and Stella contact a millionaire named Shep Huntleigh for help escaping from New Orleans;

when Stella laughs at her, Blanche reveals that she is completely broke. Stanley walks in as Blanche is making fun of him
and secretly overhears Blanche and Stellas conversation. Later, he threatens Blanche with hints that he has heard rumors of
her disreputable past. She is visibly dismayed.
While Blanche is alone in the apartment one evening, waiting for Mitch to pick her up for a date, a teenage boy
comes by to collect money for the newspaper. Blanche doesnt have any money for him, but she hits on him and gives him a
lustful kiss. Soon after the boy departs, Mitch arrives, and they go on their date. When Blanche returns, she is exhausted and
clearly has been uneasy for the entire night about the rumors Stanley mentioned earlier. In a surprisingly sincere heart-toheart discussion with Mitch, Blanche reveals the greatest tragedy of her past. Years ago, her young husband committed
suicide after she discovered and chastised him for his homosexuality. Mitch describes his own loss of a former love, and he
tells Blanche that they need each other.
When the next scene begins, about one month has passed. It is the afternoon of Blanches birthday. Stella is
preparing a dinner for Blanche, Mitch, Stanley, and herself, when Stanley comes in to tell her that he has learned news of
Blanches sordid past. He says that after losing the DuBois mansion, Blanche moved into a fleabag motel from which she
was eventually evicted because of her numerous sexual liaisons. Also, she was fired from her job as a schoolteacher because
the principal discovered that she was having an affair with a teenage student. Stella is horrified to learn that Stanley has told
Mitch these stories about Blanche.
The birthday dinner comes and goes, but Mitch never arrives. Stanley indicates to Blanche that he is aware of her
past. For a birthday present, he gives her a one-way bus ticket back to Laurel. Stanleys cruelty so disturbs Stella that it
appears the Kowalski household is about to break up, but the onset of Stellas labor prevents the imminent fight.
Several hours later, Blanche, drunk, sits alone in the apartment. Mitch, also drunk, arrives and repeats all hes
learned from Stanley. Eventually Blanche confesses that the stories are true, but she also reveals the need for human
affection she felt after her husbands death. Mitch tells Blanche that he can never marry her, saying she isnt fit to live in the
same house as his mother. Having learned that Blanche is not the chaste lady she pretended to be, Mitch tries to have sex
with Blanche, but she forces him to leave by yelling Fire! to attract the attention of passersby outside.
Later, Stanley returns from the hospital to find Blanche even more drunk. She tells him that she will soon be
leaving New Orleans with her former suitor Shep Huntleigh, who is now a millionaire. Stanley knows that Blanches story
is entirely in her imagination, but he is so happy about his baby that he proposes they each celebrate their good fortune.
Blanche spurns Stanley, and things grow contentious. When she tries to step past him, he refuses to move out of her way.
Blanche becomes terrified to the point that she smashes a bottle on the table and threatens to smash Stanley in the face.
Stanley grabs her arm and says that its time for the date theyve had set up since Blanches arrival. Blanche resists, but
Stanley uses his physical strength to overcome her, and he carries her to bed. The pulsing music indicates that Stanley rapes
The next scene takes place weeks later, as Stella and her neighbor Eunice pack Blanches bags. Blanche is in the
bath, and Stanley plays poker with his buddies in the front room. A doctor will arrive soon to take Blanche to an insane
asylum, but Blanche believes she is leaving to join her millionaire. Stella confesses to Eunice that she simply cannot allow
herself to believe Blanches assertion that Stanley raped her. When Blanche emerges from the bathroom, her deluded talk
makes it clear that she has lost her grip on reality.
The doctor arrives with a nurse, and Blanche initially panics and struggles against them when they try to take her
away. Stanley and his friends fight to subdue Blanche, while Eunice holds Stella back to keep her from interfering. Mitch
begins to cry. Finally, the doctor approaches Blanche in a gentle manner and convinces her to leave with him. She allows
him to lead her away and does not look back or say goodbye as she goes. Stella sobs with her child in her arms, and Stanley
comforts her with loving words and caresses.
As a flute melody plays, Willy Loman returns to his home in Brooklyn one night, exhausted from a failed sales
trip. His wife, Linda, tries to persuade him to ask his boss, Howard Wagner, to let him work in New York so that he wont
have to travel. Willy says that he will talk to Howard the next day. Willy complains that Biff, his older son who has come
back home to visit, has yet to make something of himself. Linda scolds Willy for being so critical, and Willy goes to the
kitchen for a snack.

As Willy talks to himself in the kitchen, Biff and his younger brother, Happy, who is also visiting, reminisce about
their adolescence and discuss their fathers babbling, which often includes criticism of Biffs failure to live up to Willys
expectations. As Biff and Happy, dissatisfied with their lives, fantasize about buying a ranch out West, Willy becomes
immersed in a daydream. He praises his sons, now younger, who are washing his car. The young Biff, a high school football
star, and the young Happy appear. They interact affectionately with their father, who has just returned from a business trip.
Willy confides in Biff and Happy that he is going to open his own business one day, bigger than that owned by his neighbor,
Charley. Charleys son, Bernard, enters looking for Biff, who must study for math class in order to avoid failing. Willy
points out to his sons that although Bernard is smart, he is not well liked, which will hurt him in the long run.
A younger Linda enters, and the boys leave to do some chores. Willy boasts of a phenomenally successful sales
trip, but Linda coaxes him into revealing that his trip was actually only meagerly successful. Willy complains that he soon
wont be able to make all of the payments on their appliances and car. He complains that people dont like him and that hes
not good at his job. As Linda consoles him, he hears the laughter of his mistress. He approaches The Woman, who is still
laughing, and engages in another reminiscent daydream. Willy and The Woman flirt, and she thanks him for giving her
The Woman disappears, and Willy fades back into his prior daydream, in the kitchen. Linda, now mending
stockings, reassures him. He scolds her mending and orders her to throw the stockings out. Bernard bursts in, again looking
for Biff. Linda reminds Willy that Biff has to return a football that he stole, and she adds that Biff is too rough with the
neighborhood girls. Willy hears The Woman laugh and explodes at Bernard and Linda. Both leave, and though the
daydream ends, Willy continues to mutter to himself. The older Happy comes downstairs and tries to quiet Willy. Agitated,
Willy shouts his regret about not going to Alaska with his brother, Ben, who eventually found a diamond mine in Africa and
became rich. Charley, having heard the commotion, enters. Happy goes off to bed, and Willy and Charley begin to play
cards. Charley offers Willy a job, but Willy, insulted, refuses it. As they argue, Willy imagines that Ben enters. Willy
accidentally calls Charley Ben. Ben inspects Willys house and tells him that he has to catch a train soon to look at
properties in Alaska. As Willy talks to Ben about the prospect of going to Alaska, Charley, seeing no one there, gets
confused and questions Willy. Willy yells at Charley, who leaves. The younger Linda enters and Ben meets her. Willy asks
Ben impatiently about his life. Ben recounts his travels and talks about their father. As Ben is about to leave, Willy
daydreams further, and Charley and Bernard rush in to tell him that Biff and Happy are stealing lumber. Although Ben
eventually leaves, Willy continues to talk to him.
Back in the present, the older Linda enters to find Willy outside. Biff and Happy come downstairs and discuss
Willys condition with their mother. Linda scolds Biff for judging Willy harshly. Biff tells her that he knows Willy is a fake,
but he refuses to elaborate. Linda mentions that Willy has tried to commit suicide. Happy grows angry and rebukes Biff for
his failure in the business world. Willy enters and yells at Biff. Happy intervenes and eventually proposes that he and Biff
go into the sporting goods business together. Willy immediately brightens and gives Biff a host of tips about asking for a
loan from one of Biffs old employers, Bill Oliver. After more arguing and reconciliation, everyone finally goes to bed.
Act II opens with Willy enjoying the breakfast that Linda has made for him. Willy ponders the bright-seeming
future before getting angry again about his expensive appliances. Linda informs Willy that Biff and Happy are taking him
out to dinner that night. Excited, Willy announces that he is going to make Howard Wagner give him a New York job. The
phone rings, and Linda chats with Biff, reminding him to be nice to his father at the restaurant that night.
As the lights fade on Linda, they come up on Howard playing with a wire recorder in his office. Willy tries to
broach the subject of working in New York, but Howard interrupts him and makes him listen to his kids and wife on the
wire recorder. When Willy finally gets a word in, Howard rejects his plea. Willy launches into a lengthy recalling of how a
legendary salesman named Dave Singleman inspired him to go into sales. Howard leaves and Willy gets angry. Howard
soon re-enters and tells Willy to take some time off. Howard leaves and Ben enters, inviting Willy to join him in Alaska.
The younger Linda enters and reminds Willy of his sons and job. The young Biff enters, and Willy praises Biffs prospects
and the fact that he is well liked.
Ben leaves and Bernard rushes in, eagerly awaiting Biffs big football game. Willy speaks optimistically to Biff
about the game. Charley enters and teases Willy about the game. As Willy chases Charley off, the lights rise on a different
part of the stage. Willy continues yelling from offstage, and Jenny, Charleys secretary, asks a grown-up Bernard to quiet
him down. Willy enters and prattles on about a very big deal that Biff is working on. Daunted by Bernards success (he
mentions to Willy that he is going to Washington to fight a case), Willy asks Bernard why Biff turned out to be such a

failure. Bernard asks Willy what happened in Boston that made Biff decide not to go to summer school. Willy defensively
tells Bernard not to blame him.
Charley enters and sees Bernard off. When Willy asks for more money than Charley usually loans him, Charley
again offers Willy a job. Willy again refuses and eventually tells Charley that he was fired. Charley scolds Willy for always
needing to be liked and angrily gives him the money. Calling Charley his only friend, Willy exits on the verge of tears.
At Franks Chop House, Happy helps Stanley, a waiter, prepare a table. They ogle and chat up a girl, Miss
Forsythe, who enters the restaurant. Biff enters, and Happy introduces him to Miss Forsythe, continuing to flirt with her.
Miss Forsythe, a call girl, leaves to telephone another call girl (at Happys request), and Biff spills out that he waited six
hours for Bill Oliver and Oliver didnt even recognize him. Upset at his fathers unrelenting misconception that he, Biff,
was a salesman for Oliver, Biff plans to relieve Willy of his illusions. Willy enters, and Biff tries gently, at first, to tell him
what happened at Olivers office. Willy blurts out that he was fired. Stunned, Biff again tries to let Willy down easily.
Happy cuts in with remarks suggesting Biffs success, and Willy eagerly awaits the good news.
Biff finally explodes at Willy for being unwilling to listen. The young Bernard runs in shouting for Linda, and Biff,
Happy, and Willy start to argue. As Biff explains what happened, their conversation recedes into the background. The young
Bernard tells Linda that Biff failed math. The restaurant conversation comes back into focus and Willy criticizes Biff for
failing math. Willy then hears the voice of the hotel operator in Boston and shouts that he is not in his room. Biff scrambles
to quiet Willy and claims that Oliver is talking to his partner about giving Biff the money. Willys renewed interest and
probing questions irk Biff more, and he screams at Willy. Willy hears The Woman laugh and he shouts back at Biff, hitting
him and staggering. Miss Forsythe enters with another call girl, Letta. Biff helps Willy to the washroom and, finding Happy
flirting with the girls, argues with him about Willy. Biff storms out, and Happy follows with the girls.
Willy and The Woman enter, dressing themselves and flirting. The door knocks and Willy hurries The Woman into
the bathroom. Willy answers the door; the young Biff enters and tells Willy that he failed math. Willy tries to usher him out
of the room, but Biff imitates his math teachers lisp, which elicits laughter from Willy and The Woman. Willy tries to cover
up his indiscretion, but Biff refuses to believe his stories and storms out, dejected, calling Willy a phony little fake. Back
in the restaurant, Stanley helps Willy up. Willy asks him where he can find a seed store. Stanley gives him directions to one,
and Willy hurries off.
The light comes up on the Loman kitchen, where Happy enters looking for Willy. He moves into the living room
and sees Linda. Biff comes inside and Linda scolds the boys and slaps away the flowers in Happys hand. She yells at them
for abandoning Willy. Happy attempts to appease her, but Biff goes in search of Willy. He finds Willy planting seeds in the
garden with a flashlight. Willy is consulting Ben about a $20,000 proposition. Biff approaches him to say goodbye and tries
to bring him inside. Willy moves into the house, followed by Biff, and becomes angry again about Biffs failure. Happy tries
to calm Biff, but Biff and Willy erupt in fury at each other. Biff starts to sob, which touches Willy. Everyone goes to bed
except Willy, who renews his conversation with Ben, elated at how great Biff will be with $20,000 of insurance money.
Linda soon calls out for Willy but gets no response. Biff and Happy listen as well. They hear Willys car speed away.
In the requiem, Linda and Happy stand in shock after Willys poorly attended funeral. Biff states that Willy had the
wrong dreams. Charley defends Willy as a victim of his profession. Ready to leave, Biff invites Happy to go back out West
with him. Happy declares that he will stick it out in New York to validate Willys death. Linda asks Willy for forgiveness for
being unable to cry. She begins to sob, repeating Were free. . . . All exit, and the flute melody is heard as the curtain falls.