Summary: BOOK ONE, Chapter III
The Connoisseur of Kisses
Richard visits his aunt. They talk across each other about Richard’s writing and Bilphism, the universal system of belief to which Mrs. Gilbert is attached. Mrs. Gilbert shares her concern over her daughter Gloria’s behavior. Richard reports that Gloria is no longer being seen with first-rate men. Richard asks his aunt about Joseph Bloeckman, one of Gloria’s suitors. Later, Gloria comes home with two of her friends.
Two Women Friends
Gloria introduces her two friends, Rachael Jerryl and Muriel Kane. Richard thinks both young women seem common. On impulse, Gloria decides to throw a dinner party. Richard, Anthony, and Maury will be her male guests, along with Bloeckman. Gloria explains that he’s a moving picture man who does business with her father.
Deplorable End of the Chevalier O’Keefe
Anthony takes Geraldine, his working-class girlfriend, to lunch and then back to his apartment for drinks. Anthony tells her a long story starring his imaginary self as a handsome chevalier who gives up women to become a monk, only to die by falling out of a tower when he spies a pretty girl. They exchange kisses for an hour.
Signlight and Moonlight
Gloria hosts her dinner at the Biltmore. Anthony meets Bloeckman, a stout, sandy-haired man of about thirty-five. As the group consumes more Champagne, everyone except Bloeckman starts dancing. Gloria makes Anthony take her out to get gumdrops. They ride around in a cab for a while before sharing a kiss. Then they return to the party.
The next morning, a Sunday, Anthony sits in his favorite chair and thinks about Gloria’s kiss. He calls her at the Plaza and feels personally hurt to learn she is out. He keeps calling all afternoon. He finally reaches Gloria at eight, but she explains that she can’t see him until Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Gloria wants to go for a walk, so she and Anthony set out in the bitter cold. Then she insists on going back to the Plaza. Anthony asks her about Bloeckman, and she plays on his jealousy. They talk, discover they share much in common, and kiss each other. But when Anthony kisses her with genuine passion, Gloria turns cold. Annoyed at her sudden shift of mood, Anthony leaves with as much dignity as the situation allows.
Anthony walks the cold streets in despair at having lost Gloria. He stops at a diner and orders bacon, eggs, and coffee. While he eats, he drives himself to anger by imagining Gloria with Bloeckman. Suddenly, Anthony realizes he is in love.
Anthony desperately wants Gloria’s love. He resolves not to see Gloria for six weeks, hoping the time apart will turn him once again into an amusing novelty to her.
Richard’s novel The Demon Lover is accepted for publication, so attention among the three male friends—Richard, Anthony, and Maury—shifts to Richard. Anthony hardly pays attention. He thinks only about Gloria.
Anthony goes on several dates with Geraldine. One day, he sees Gloria walking with a young man he’s never seen before. The next day he runs into Bloeckman at a bar, and Bloeckman mentions that he is taking Gloria to dinner.
In the fifth week of Anthony’s self-inflicted time away from Gloria, Anthony breaks his resolve and calls her. Mrs. Gilbert answers. Anthony hangs up without leaving a message.
Anthony meets Gloria and notices she now wears bobbed hair. They walk and enjoy the warm spring air. Anthony makes plans to invite Gloria to his house. Everything works out just as he’d dreamed. He tells Gloria he loves her, and she responds that she’s glad. She breaks a date to be with him. When he arrives, she falls into his arms.
Analysis: BOOK ONE, Chapter III
Chapter 3 opens with an exploration of Richard and Anthony’s divergent work ethics. Both Richard and Anthony struggle to maintain jobs and don’t require large paychecks to support a job-free lifestyle. However, Richard is consumed by his work on his novel The Demon Lover. Both characters strive to maintain a certain level of wealth within their social structures, but Richard’s obsessive work on his book will help him to maintain that wealth and put his financial security in his own hands. The same cannot be said for Anthony and his fleeting dalliance with the idea of writing a book on medieval history. He still hasn’t started writing, and he likely never will. Anthony’s lack of work ethic means he never does any meaningful work, and his life is dedicated solely to debauchery. Richard’s work makes his life more expansive and gives him something to talk about other than himself, while Gloria and Anthony, without absorption in anything external to themselves, are self-obsessed. Richard’s work ethic sits in stark contrast to Anthony’s lack of one.
This chapter introduces the minor character Geraldine, whose presence further extrapolates the ideas of wealth and marriage. Anthony finds comfort in Geraldine, a working-class girl and usher. His preference for a girl of a lower class stems from the fact that Geraldine will not expect him to marry her. Their relationship requires no meaningful commitments due to their class difference. This falls in line with Anthony’s views and lifestyle. He prefers to remain in a class above others, and Geraldine’s presence is a constant reminder of his elevated status. However, Geraldine presents an ironic dichotomy. She ostensibly has a steadier income than Anthony because of her job. She doesn’t need to rely on allowances or future inheritances to maintain a stable life. Anthony couldn’t marry Geraldine if he wanted to because he doesn’t have the financial stability to support marriage. After meeting with Geraldine, Anthony is lonely and frustrated, suggesting that his outward rejection of marriage may hide a deeper longing for partnership.
The scenes in which Anthony courts Gloria illustrate power imbalances in relationships as a motif. Though Anthony’s gender gives him power over Gloria in some ways, ultimately, Gloria has the power in the early stages of their relationship because she doesn’t reciprocate Anthony’s love. Though she chooses him over other suitors like Bloeckman, she still maintains an obvious, dispassionate distance from Anthony throughout their early courtship. The more avid he is for her love and attention, such as when he professes his love for her, the more remote and cold she becomes. When Gloria doesn’t say she loves Anthony, too, it’s clear that her disinterest in doing much of anything extends to making declarations of love. It’s almost as if even being in love is too much work for her. Anthony is blinded by his one-sided passion, and in effect, he fails to see Gloria as much more than an icon of beauty.