Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
At Scone College in Oxford, the annual dinner of the Bollinger Club ends with the breaking of glass. Reeling out of Sir Alastair Digby-Vaine-Trumpington’s rooms, the drunken aristocrats run to earth the inoffensive divinity student Paul Pennyfeather and forcibly leave him trouserless before they go roaring off into the night. Bollinger members can be fined, but the college authorities feel that Paul deserves more severe punishment for running across the quadrangle in his shorts. As a result, he is sent down for indecent behavior. After informing him that under his father’s will his legacy could be withheld for unsatisfactory behavior, his unsympathetic guardian virtuously announces his intention to cut off Paul’s allowance.
Through a shoddy firm of scholastic agents, Paul becomes a junior assistant master at Llanabba Castle, Wales. Llanabba is not a good school. Its head is Dr. Augustus Fagan, whose lectures on service are intended to cover up the inadequacies of his institution. He has two daughters: Flossie, a vulgar young woman with matrimonial ambitions, and Diana, who economizes on sugar and soap. One of the masters is Mr. Prendergast, a former clergyman who suffers from doubts. The other is Captain Grimes, who wears a false leg and is, as he frankly admits, periodically in the soup. A bounder and a scoundrel, he puts his faith in the public-school system, which may kick a man out but never lets him down. Grimes thinks he was put on his feet...
(The entire section is 1224 words.)
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