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Characters

Jean De Daumier-Smith Timeline and Summary

  • It's sometime after 1947. Jean's stepfather Bobby has just died.
  • Jean remembers when his mother married Bobby in 1928, when he was eight years old.
  • In 1930, the family moves from New York City to Paris and lives there for nine years, until the death of Jean's mother.
  • Jean and Bobby move back to New York City in 1939 when Jean is nineteen.
  • Even though he goes to art school, reads a ton, and creates lots of art, Jean is lonely.
  • He perks up when he sees an ad seeking an art teacher at a Montreal correspondence school.
  • He makes up a fake name (Jean de Daumier-Smith), and a fake age (twenty-nine), submits an application, and gets the job.
  • He arrives in Montreal on a Sunday in June.
  • On Monday he is given three students, two of whom disappoint him, and one, Sister Irma, who thrills him.
  • He is excited about Sister Irma and writes her an enthusiastic letter.
  • On Thursday, he has a vision of extreme loneliness (a.k.a. epiphany) while looking in the window of the orthopedic appliance shop.
  • On Friday, he gets a letter withdrawing Sister Irma from classes. In turn he writes his other students telling them to give up art, and expelling them from school. He also writes a letter to Sister Irma begging her to stay with her art. (He never sends this second letter to Sister Irma, though.)
  • He goes out, intending to get drunk, but instead he has coffee and soup. He then plans to go home, touch up his letter to Sister Irma, and possibly by a ticket to visit her.
  • That night has another intense experience (a.k.a. epiphany) in front of the appliance shop. The attack is on his nose (in a nice way), and what once looked ugly to him now looks beautiful.
  • Stunned, he stumbles around for some time and finally makes it back to his room.
  • In his diary he writes the words, "I am giving Sister Irma her freedom to follow her own destiny. Everybody is a nun." (See "What's up With the Ending for a discussion of this curious last sentence.)
  • He then writes letters reinstating his expelled students.
  • The following week the school is closed down due to the fact that it doesn't have a license. Jean goes on vacation with Bobby before returning to art school in New York City.
  • He never encountered sister Irma again, but does keep in touch with Bambi Kramer, one of his former students.

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