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by J.M. Coetzee

Melanie Isaacs Timeline and Summary

  • David approaches Melanie while walking across campus one day. He invites her over his place for a drink and she accepts.
  • At David's place, Melanie drinks some wine. She and David talk about the romantic poets (Melanie likes Blake best) and Melanie's favorite writers. They eat dinner and watch a movie about dance. Then they get to the subject of David's divorces, which is always a great direction to steer a conversation.
  • Melanie drinks some coffee with whiskey. Thinking she's all revved up from that, David asks her to stay over. Instead, she leaves.
  • Not too long after, David calls Melanie and asks her out for lunch. She's too startled to say no. At lunch, she just picks at her food and we find out that she's worried about what's going on between the two of them.
  • Melanie and David go back to David's place and do it on the floor. We get the idea she's not into it, because when David wakes up she's frowning.
  • Melanie gets some flowers from David.
  • Two days after they sleep together for the first time, Melanie accepts a ride home from David. When he tries to come in, she says no.
  • Melanie goes to class the next day and David keeps checking her out.
  • Melanie goes to play rehearsal, which David watches from the shadows of the auditorium.
  • David shows up at Melanie's place without an invite or a phone call. She says "not now," but he carries her to her room and they do it. She keeps looking away but helps him take off her clothes anyway.
  • Melanie skips the Romantics midterm and cuts class a bunch of times.
  • After a week of cutting class, Melanie shows up at David's place without any explanation, wearing head-to-toe black like a serious hipster or some kind of secret agent. She asks if she can crash there. David lets her sleep in his daughter's room.
  • She doesn't want to talk about anything but cries a lot.
  • David leaves for work, and when he gets back Melanie looks a lot better but still doesn't explain anything. She promises to go to class, though.
  • Melanie and David have sex again. Afterwards, she asks him if he sleeps with his students. Then she asks about why he got divorced (twice). She asks David if he is "collecting" her.
  • After the guy wearing black (Ryan) confronts David about his affair with Melanie, Melanie shies away from David. She comes back to class, though – except her boyfriend comes with her.
  • David confronts Melanie about skipping the midterm. She hasn't done any of the reading and says she's been really busy with the play.
  • Melanie rides away on a motorcycle with the young man in black.
  • Melanie skips the make-up test; we find out she has withdrawn from the class.
  • We find out via Melanie's dad that Melanie wants to drop out of school.
  • When David has to go before the committee, we also find out that Melanie has told the committee that she never took the test and didn't go to class.
  • The last time we see Melanie is at the end when David attends her play.