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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
In the 1977 edition of this novel, the chapters are not numbered. They are numbered below in an effort to divide them effectively for comprehension.
The chapter opens with the narrator riding his bike. He tells the reader he is riding from Monument, Massachusetts to Rutterburg, Vermont. He tells us that morning he delayed his departure for two hours because he was afraid. He dressed and put on his father’s cap. Although he has plenty of money, thirty-five dollars and ninety-three cents-enough to take a bus first class, but he wants to ride his bike. Riding his bike makes him feel freer.
He has told no one he is leaving, but his thoughts turn repeatedly to Amy. He loves her and although he considers calling school and pretending he is her father so he can tell her what he is doing, he decides it is better to call her from the road.
As he was leaving he dumped out his pills. He wants to make his trip without crutches; he wants to be strong. He brings only a present from his father--no clothes or provisions.
In this opening chapter we encounter the exposition of the plot. We meet the narrator; although we do not learn his name we learn that he is on a mission to see his father. His father lives quite a distance, and the narrator’s decision to ride his bike instead of taking the bus is symbolic of his need to make the trip under his own power. It is an important decision he has made, and he wants to undertake it with no help from anyone. This is also the reason he does not tell anyone before he leaves that he is going. This chapter is written in the first person in the present tense. This is an unusual method of writing and the author most likely chooses it because he wants the reader to have a real sense of what is going on with the narrator as he begins his journey. Furthermore, by placing the scene in the present tense there is a heightened sensation of anticipation, because we do not know if the narrator will succeed.
This chapter opens with a taped conversation in which one person is asking the other person various questions. The person answering the questions says he remembers the day he was “born” so to speak--the day he became a person in his own right. The person asking the questions request him to tell about that night
There is a small boy, three and a half years old, lying in his bed listening to the sounds of the night. Although he does not yet understand it, he describes the sounds of his parents making love in the next room. He is not scared by the noises, but comforted.
One night the boy, lying in bed with his treasured stuffed animals, is frightened by what he hears. His parents’ voices have become harsh. His father comes to his room to make sure they have not woken him, and the boy pretends to sleep.
The conversation between the two speakers continues (“T” asking the questions, “A” answering them). A says that his parents were discussing him, and he thought they were going to send him away. He calmed down when they began to discuss a trip.
The trip was scary to the child, and filled with the terrible scents of the bus they traveled on. Interestingly, A says that before the trip he associated his father with cigarettes, but after he did not. His father does not smoke. His mother’s perfume remained the same.
They did not return to the same home. T says that they probably just moved, which is common. A hesitates because he is uncertain. This conversation seems to take place between a doctor and his patient; however, this is not stated. The patient, A, is medicated and believes the medication is playing tricks on his mind. A asks to go back, he is tired.
The perspective and tense change in this scene. The point of view switched to third person. The narrator has access to the thoughts of the patient but not the doctor. The tense is past.
At the end of this chapter, it seems like this conversation is between a doctor and a patient. Since this is not explicitly stated, we should not assume that the person, T, is really a doctor. At the end of the chapter we learn that the patient is medicated. This fact makes his testimony speculative, since he even believes that his medicine is playing tricks on his mind.