Tropic of Cancer
by Henry Miller
Tropic of Cancer Chapter 15 Summary
- Upon his return to Paris, Henry learns that Carl has taken up with an underaged girl and is facing some legal threats from her parents.
- Van Norden has decided that women aren't worth it and that it's better just to masturbate. He shares his new method—but you can look that one up yourself.
- Fillmore is in the hospital and possibly crazy. Henry goes to see him, at which point Fillmore confesses that he has impregnated a French woman and wants to marry her. Miller visits the woman, Ginette, a nice "rawboned, healthy, peasant type with a front tooth half eaten away" (15.29).
- Ginette is pregnant, it seems, and hysterically worried that Fillmore won't marry her and that he may lose his job. Henry assures her that Fillmore will be all right and has promised to marry her. They hang out with her friend Yvette, who works in a police department.
- Now the women won't leave him alone.
- Henry can't bring himself to visit Fillmore again.
- Fillmore tells Ginette "that he had no intention of marrying her, and that if she was crazy enough to go and have the child then she could support it herself" (14.37). The doctors see this response as a sign that he is on the mend.
- Meanwhile, her parents get involved and are all too eager to have Fillmore marry their daughter.
- There's some speculation (fueled by Yvette) that Ginette isn't even pregnant—she's just an alcoholic. But at least her parents are rich. She just wants to marry Fillmore so he will take care of her.
- Soon Fillmore returns to Paris, but after getting engaged to Ginette, he confides to Miller that he is miserable. He has lost his job and all of his money is gone.
- Ginette is psychotically jealous and controls every move he makes.
- Miller hatches a plan to sneak Fillmore out of Paris and back to America. Fillmore is deeply paranoid about Ginette getting her hooks into him. He is positively terrorized. They fight (as in punching, scratching, and slapping) and make up.
- All the while, her parents are lurking about expecting him to pick up the slack. Henry is disgusted by the whole mess.
- One day, Henry and Fillmore are walking down the Rue de Rivoli on a day when Paris is at its best.
- Fillmore confesses that he is having a nervous breakdown about the situation. He doesn't have an ounce of courage left. The problem is that he loves France and can't bear the thought of returning to America. "When he said France it meant wine, women, money in the pocket, easy come, easy go. It meant being a bad boy, being on a holiday" (14.66).
- But things had turned grim. Henry convinces Fillmore to stop for a drink in a café—leisure that he can no longer afford as Ginette waits like a tiger for him to come home. Fillmore does it anyway.
- They begin talking about his mess of a life and Fillmore just lets the tears flow.
- Henry convinces him to return to America and just leave it all behind. Fillmore withdraws his money from the bank and without even collecting his clothes, jumps a train to get back to the US by way of London—so Ginette can't track him down. Before he goes, he gives Henry a bunch of money, some of which is for Ginette.
- Henry dreads running into Ginette, but soothes himself with the beauties of Paris.
- He takes a cab (a big luxury) around Paris, driving past the Arc de Triomphe and the Bois. Of course, Henry keeps the money for himself and lives like a prince for a while.
- It suddenly occurs to him that maybe he should return to America as well. He pictures Harlem and the Battery—the streets of New York. What ever became of his wife?
- He momentarily feels at peace. People aren't so bad he thinks, but close up they "appear ugly and malicious" (14. 112).
- The novel closes with his thoughts of the Seine River: "The sun is setting. I feel this river flowing through me—its past, its soil, the changing climate. The hills gently girdle it about: its course is fixed" (14.113).
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