Study Guide

Tropic of Cancer Chapter 12

By Henry Miller

Chapter 12

  • Fillmore invites Miller to stay with him. It's the rainy season, so Henry is grateful to have a roof over his head. Fillmore takes care of him, giving him money and showing interest in his book. There's always plenty of food and wine. And women.
  • Henry likes looking out the window, staring at all of the activity, which looks to him like "something going on on another planet" (12.8).
  • Miller gets some writing jobs here and there, but nothing huge.
  • One day, he comes home and finds a Russian "princess" at the apartment. Fillmore is really worked up over this woman, talking about how she's a "movie star" who was jilted by some guy.
  • Fillmore and the princess have a crazy night out dancing and drinking—and then she ditches him. He tracks her down, and she confesses that she had seen her lover, the movie director, and had to get out of there. Oh, and she doesn't want to have sex with Fillmore.
  • Fillmore has had enough of her and calls her a b****. He tells her, "I wouldn't fall for you if you were the last woman on earth" (12.44). Not the best comeback of the book, but we'll take it.
  • Soon, Macha—"the princess"—is living with them. Fillmore is determined to get her in bed, but is met time and again with rejection. She's pretty much a slob and shoves all sorts of trash under the bed. Also, she always seems to be having her period—and she's getting fat. Yeah, Miller really has a way of describing women.
  • Now she's claiming that she likes women and wants Henry and Fillmore to take her to a "bawdy house where they put on the dog and man act" (12.49).
  • Fillmore decides to get it on with "the Negress," and now the princess is fuming mad. But eventually she mellows out and enjoys herself. He finally gets a chance to have sex with Macha, and she drops a bomb: she has the clap.
  • He decides to use a condom. Smart move.
  • The whole thing ends in a disaster. Henry and Fillmore decide they are going to try to cure her.
  • She tells them a long-winded story about an inheritance, her gonorrhea, and an affair she had with a lesbian.
  • Yep.