Study Guide

Angle of Repose Part 1, Chapter 2

By Wallace Stegner

Part 1, Chapter 2

  • It's the morning, and Lyman is reading his grandparents' papers. He finds that he usually works best in the morning; by the afternoon, he's usually in too much pain to go on.
  • Luckily, that's usually when Ada comes by. On her most recent visit, she had talked about her own super-hippie daughter, who's back at home at the moment because she's beefing with her husband.
  • Grandma Ward's name, by the way, is Susan Burling. According to Lyman, Susan loved three things more than anything: art, New York, and her best friend, Augusta Drake.
  • And, boy, do we mean love. Lyman shows us a letter that Susan had written her bestie, and let's just say that it sounds more like she's talking to a girlfriend than a best friend.
  • Lyman starts telling us about a particular New Year's party that Susan once attended. The party is held in Brooklyn and is filled with rich kids as far as the eye can see.
  • Susan isn't quite so rich, but she has access to high society thanks to her tight friendship with a gal named Emma Beach. It helps that Susan's a killer artist, too.
  • Let's get back to the party, shall we? Susan is currently sitting down with a group of people as a preacher named Henry Ward Beecher loudly rants about typical preacher stuff.
  • Susan is annoyed. She gets up and "breathlessly" hustles to the library, where she hopes to get some quality alone time to work on her art (1.2.28). Life of the party, this one.
  • Suddenly, the door opens—it's Beecher's cousin, Oliver Ward, whom she has never met before. He tells her to pay him no mind and keep working.
  • Before long, however, Susan notices Oliver peeking over her shoulder at her drawing. He takes this opportunity to tell her about his life, his past failed business ventures, and his current plan to move out west and become an engineer.
  • The chat is interrupted by Emma's abrupt entrance. Apparently, some dude is demanding that Susan come out and dance with him. Susan leaves her drawing pad with Oliver and asks him to keep an eye on it.
  • Later that night, Susan draws a portrait of Oliver. We're sure you've figured out what's going on by now: this is the first meeting of Lyman's grandparents.
  • Still, it's a little weird overall. Although Susan would start writing letters to Oliver soon after this night, she never even mentions his existence to Augusta until five years later.