Summary: Chapter 71

Elaine puts on her new black dress and goes to the retrospective. She arrives early and walks around, looking through the catalogue Charna put together. 

Charna has arranged the artwork chronologically, beginning with the still lifes. According to Charna, these paintings depict the charisma of domestic objects. Elaine continues to the pictures of Mrs. Smeath and recognizes all the malice she put in them. She acknowledges that Mrs. Smeath probably moved to Toronto from somewhere small and didn’t know what to make of Elaine’s family but nevertheless tried to care for Elaine.

The exhibition contains some new paintings. One, entitled Three Muses, depicts Mrs. Finestein, Mr. Banerji, and Miss Stuart. Charna describes the painting as a deconstruction of gender. Mrs. Finestein wears her fashionable clothes, Mr. Banerji wears a costume like that of Balthazar of the Magi, and Miss Stuart wears a lavender silk gown and nurse’s mask. Elaine recognizes that she has depicted to them as they were to her, not as they actually were. Their kindness probably meant little to them but everything to her. 

Another triptych, One Wing, depicts Stephen falling with a wooden sword in his hand, juxtaposed with a painting of an airplane and a moth. Charna says this painting depicts the childishness of war. Cat’s Eye shows the top half of Elaine’s face, with a mirror hanging behind. The mirror reflects the silhouettes of three girls. Unified Field Theory depicts the Virgin Mary hovering over a bridge and holding a cat’s eye marble.

Elaine realizes she thought she was preserving something with her paintings, but she can’t control the paintings or how they’re viewed by others.

Summary: Chapter 72

Charna takes Elaine into a back room to wait until she can make an entrance. Elaine’s head swims with regret.