De Daumier-Smith's Blue Period
by J.D. Salinger
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.