Lawns Summary

Summary (Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Jenny, a college freshman, begins her narration by bluntly confessing that she steals. Her narrative monologue then moves loosely from present to past as she shares her feelings about several major areas of her life. Jenny works Saturday mornings sorting mail in her dormitory, where she has been stealing letters and packages. She has received a letter from the campus police saying they suspect that some of the mail sorters may be throwing out mail, and there is a meeting about it that she must attend.

She recalls the day that she came to the University of California at Berkeley. Her mother and brother had not come with her and her father. She was upset and embarrassed when her dad cried as he said good-bye, and was afraid someone would see him acting like that. Later, she took a long walk across campus and saw a man riding a lawnmower. The image made her happy and stayed with her. That night at dinner, she again saw the man, whose name is Glenn. She thinks that she is in love, for the first time. She worries that Glenn will find out about her but does not explain exactly what it is that she does not want him to know. She describes the night that they got together and how glad she was, because she wanted it to happen. Memories of her father intrude, but it turns out all right.

She says that she never steals Glenn’s letters and describes what she knows about his family and a former girlfriend, who apparently is failing chemistry at school in San Diego. Jenny herself, who is enrolled in pre-med classes, got an A+ in Chemistry 1A.

On the day of the meeting with the police, Jenny has to skip Chemistry 1C for the first time. She lies to Glenn, saying she has a doctor’s appointment. The students are questioned, but nobody says anything. The police officer’s body reminds her of her father’s. One student sticks up for all of them, and Jenny is grateful. After they are dismissed, she promises herself that she will not steal again.

She says that she lies all the time and struggles over which things she should...

(The entire section is 840 words.)