Study Guide

Angle of Repose Part 7, Chapter 7

By Wallace Stegner

Part 7, Chapter 7

  • Shelly's husband has been contacting her a lot recently. Lyman isn't very happy about this, especially because it means that she talks to him nonstop about her personal drama.
  • But today, Shelly wants to know about Lyman's grandparents. She wants to know whether Susan was "really thinking of leaving" Oliver, or if Lyman is just assuming that (7.7.5). Lyman admits that it's just conjecture.
  • Shelly is sure that Oliver never stopped drinking, though, because her dad would tell her about the ragers he would throw back in the day. Regardless, she doesn't remember seeing any letters from Susan about his drinking, so she's pretty confused.
  • It turns out that Lyman has a secret file containing all of Susan's most "private" letters (7.7.39). Even those letters are vague, however, which has led him to contact the Idaho Historical Society for any mentions of the family in the newspaper.
  • Lyman finally comes clean (to us, not to Shelly) about how he's writing this book to understand his own failed marriage to Ellen. He even wonders whether she ever loved him.
  • And now, we finally hear the story of how Ellen left Lyman. It happened mere months after his leg was amputated—he awoke one morning to find out that she had left him for his surgeon. Ouch.
  • Ellen's story didn't end happily ever after, however. One day, the surgeon left their cabin on Huntington Lake for a stroll and never returned. His body was found months later.
  • Suddenly, Lyman's grumpy 'tude makes a lot more sense. But, let's not dilly-dally on this nonsense—it's time for the Susan Ward Fun Hour.
  • In the end, Susan decides to take the kids to Vancouver Island while Oliver works with the survey. The new baby's name is Agnes, by the way.
  • Susan is packing up her things when her eye is caught by a book that Frank had given her years ago. Then, just like magic, she looks out the window and sees "Frank Sargent unsaddling his sorrel horse [...] at the corral gate" (7.7.88).
  • Frank tells Susan (while holding her hand, of course) that he's only here to get his stuff. He introduces himself to Agnes, but that's about it—Oliver and Ollie are out and about.
  • So, Frank and Susan go out on a completely platonic stroll. They eventually sit down, and Susan starts complaining like crazy about her schmuck of a husband and his many business failures.
  • It isn't long before Susan and Frank are straight-up making out. Lyman seems really uncomfortable with the thought of anything sexual happening between these two, even though he admits that it's likely.
  • Susan eventually stops Frank, although it's clear that she's very conflicted. They eventually get up and start walking back to the house, hand in hand.
  • Susan and Frank are still hand in hand when they come across Oliver and Ollie returning from town. Although Oliver doesn't say anything, she worries that he knows that something is up.