Where is the chapter by chapter outline for John Updike's A month of Sundays?

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It would do well for you to start on our A Month of Sundays topic page.  The link is as follows:  http://www.enotes.com/topics/month-sundays  I will also put the link at the bottom of this answer.

Even though eNotes doesn't, at present, have the chapter by chapter "outline" as you ask, there is a distinct summary on the very first page of the topic.  It consists of six long paragraphs and details the summary of the novel very well, in chronological order.

Further, here is a summary for you to start your outline:

Tom Marshfield has been ordered to take a "retreat" in the the western United States.  Ironically, Ms. Prynne, who is the manager, runs a tight ship on this "retreat."  Tom is required to write for the entire morning, followed up by many games later in the day.  There are 31 "sections" of the book, each one is Tom's written sketch of the morning.

Tom is a preacher's kid, and grew up as such.  The son of a preacher, lived in the house of a preacher, schooled to become a preacher, and married a girl from that same religious school (and the daughter of one of his teachers)!  Full of doubt and anger, Tom trudges along as a pastor (with even his church musician telling him about his anger issues.  Tom's response?  "She was right."  The anger is due to a passionless marriage.  Unfortunately, this prompts Tom to have an affair promptly with that same church organist (Alicia) who accused him of being the "angriest" in the first place. 

Tom describes the passion with Alicia as releasing a "sexual demon" in him. The two have an immediate and passionate affair which leads Tom to try and have his wife, Jane, commit the same sexual sin with the assistant pastor, Ned.  Tom's "try" doesn't work, and Jane remains committed to Tom leaving him with more than one "bulky armload of guilt" about his own sin. 

As is often the case, Alicia (as the "other woman") wants Tom and only Tom:  not Tom's ministry or Tom's wife.  Of course, as is very usual in these types of affairs though, Tom is unwilling to leave his church position or his ministry or his wife to pursue Alicia for more than just sex.  The extra-marital relationships ends with a huge amount of bitterness on the part of Alicia, but with Tom knowing that he has made the right decision in the end, in favor of his commitment with his wife.

Desperate and extremely jealous, Tom now finds the time to spy on Alicia with Ned (the same guy who Tom tried to set Jane up with).  At this point, Tom has a rebound relationship with a lady named Frankie Harlow.  This is only a short distraction, however, because Alicia is still bitter with Tom and avidly tells Mr. Harlow about his wife's recent antics.

It is at this point that Tom goes on "retreat" to what our eNotes summary calls "Ms. Prynne's rest home for delinquent clerics."

As Tom writes at the "rest home," he gripes about his father who no longer recognizes Tom and about the activities at the center.  Tom has many heated exchanges between liberals (like himself) and conservatives.  As a result, Tom decides it's all about faith vs. good works. 

In his search for faith (amid his search for women), Tom eventually tries to get even Ms. Prynne's attention.  Tom begins writing to her in his notebook, leaving the pages each day for her to see.  He goes from suggestion to desperation.  Ms. Prynne does not respond.

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A Month of Sundays

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