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Tropic of Cancer

Tropic of Cancer


by Henry Miller

Tropic of Cancer Chapter 7 Summary

  • The narrator recalls an old acquaintance he had met in America: a wealthy Hindu pearl merchant named Nanantatee, who let the narrator live with him and provided food, but then basically slaved him around with endless daily household chores. "Now I'm a prisoner," the narrator says, "a man without caste, an untouchable" (7.4).
  • Nanantatee is always on his case about cleaning, about coming home late, the whole shebang; and once again, the narrator wants to make an escape.
  • Because of his religion, Nanantatee has to perform all sorts of cleansing rituals that the narrator thinks is a bunch of mumbo jumbo.
  • Nanantatee's arm is all jacked up from a taxi accident. For some reason, the narrator is really fixated on this arm, describing it as a "broken compass" and adding that "it's not an arm any more, but a knucklebone with a shank attached" (7.8).
  • Enter Nanantatee's friend Kepi, "a human tick" who "has the address of every whorehouse in Paris, and the rates" (7.14). Kepi's job is to take visitors from India out on the town and get them hooked up with ladies of the night.
  • Oh, and by the way, we finally find out what the narrator's name is when Nanantatee calls him "Endree," which is his accented way of saying Henry.
  • One night, Kepi asks Henry to take one of his clients to a whorehouse. After getting some action, Henry hears screaming coming from the other room.
  • Turns out the young Indian visitor defecated in a bidet, thinking it was a toilet (FYI: A bidet is a kind of low sink used for cleaning your lower, er, parts.)
  • Henry thinks that disaster may have been the Indian man's finest moment.
  • From now on, Henry decides to "make not the least resistance to fate" (7.46)—to move forward and to live fully in the present, never looking back: "As far as history goes I am dead. If there is something beyond I shall have to bounce back. I have found God, but he is insufficient. I am only spiritually dead. Physically I am alive. Morally I am free" (7.46).
  • Deep.

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