Summary: Chapter 48

Elaine starts attending a night class for life drawing. Elaine isn’t officially a student at the art college, but non-students can attend if they convince the instructor that they’re serious. The instructor, Mr. Hrbik, looks through the drawings Elaine has brought and declares her a complete amateur, but he allows her into the class. The class contains mostly men, with two older women and a girl Elaine’s age named Susie.

After the first drawing session, Mr. Hrbik tells Elaine that she has drawn a corpse, not a body. Her work lacks passion. He tells her she is unfinished, but this class will finish her.

Summary: Chapter 49

In addition to her night classes, Elaine enrolls in University of Toronto’s art and archaeology program because her parents don’t like the idea of her being a painter. Elaine tries to blend in with her female classmates, but they put her on edge. Slowly Elaine starts only caring about what allows her to fit in at her life drawing class and dresses in black. Her university classmates begin to avoid her. 

The two older women in Elaine’s life drawing class, Babs and Marjorie, joke that Elaine now dresses as if for a funeral. Babs and Marjorie are professional portrait artists, and Elaine thinks of them as embarrassing.

Summary: Chapter 50

The boys from life drawing class use Elaine to get them into the “ladies and escorts” sections of beer parlors because they’re nicer than the men’s sections. The boys call Marjorie and Babs “lady painters” and don’t take them seriously. Women who are bad painters are “lady painters,” whereas women who paint well are simply “painters.” The men mock the appearance of the models in life drawing, eyes always turned toward Elaine to gauge her reaction. Elaine enjoys feeling like the exception to a rule. 

She doesn’t like the way her classmates mock Mr. Hrbik. They make fun of him for being a European immigrant who lost his home between World War II and the Hungarian Revolution. They resent having to take life drawing because the art world cares about action painting.