Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 577
After Thursday opens with the protagonist Marianne Fenton reluctantly trying to help her mother decide how to use the things they have moved with them to decorate their new apartment. Marianne has little concern for how things look, including herself, so she is not interested in her mother's decorating efforts for the apartment nor herself.
As the plot develops, seventeen-year-old Marianne struggles to discover the reasons for her love of Abe, a twenty-five year-old, blind music teacher. Marianne and others her age and older meet in the apartment Abe shares with Donald, a fellow musician, on Thursdays to perform madrigals. She has taken on a custodial role with Abe, shielding him from activities she thinks will be an embarrassment to him because of his blindness. She allows her involvement with Abe to keep her from doing things she would like to do, such as playing net ball on a neighborhood team, learning to ride a horse, and making friends in her new neighborhood. She justifies her choices by telling herself that Abe cannot do these things and she would not hurt him by making him feel different because of his blindness. Her mother thinks she spends too much time with Abe and does too much for him, that she coddles him. Marianne believes she loves Abe and from all indications, he loves her, in spite of an eight-year difference in their ages. Marianne struggles within herself as she examines her love for Abe. Does she love him or pity him, feel sorry for him or admire his spunk and determination, or does she smother him or respect his independence?
A childhood friend appears in Abe's life and complicates matters for Marianne when Abe agrees to be her accompanist for an upcoming concert. Abe goes to Manchester for three weeks to rehearse and does not call Marianne at the appointed times. She worries first about his safety, then about his being with Debbie, who has turned out to be quite attractive and more Abe's age, then becomes angry when she thinks he has been inconsiderate and left her waiting for calls that do not come or come late.
Peter, Donald's brother, has come to stay with Donald and Abe until the fall semester of school. He finds Marianne attractive and begins a campaign to win her friendship and affections. Against her will, Marianne is attracted to him. She begins comparing carefree and spontaneous Peter to steady, predictable Abe and is persuaded by Peter to join him on several occasions with the cliche, "While the cat's away, the mice will play." He convinces Marianne that Abe is partying while he is in Manchester and not thinking about her, while she, on the other hand, is sitting at home by the phone, refusing invitations to go with Peter, and to play net ball on a neighborhood team. Peter invites people he does not really know to the apartment and coerces Marianne into a compromising situation. The "guests" become rowdy because of drugs and alcohol. Marianne is brought to her senses when one of them pounds on Abe's piano, and she angrily chases them all out.
When the night of Debbie's concert arrives, Marianne is unsure about Abe's feelings for her and only attends it at her mother's insistence. She feels certain Abe will not want her there even though he is accompanying Debbie. At the reception it seems her worst fears have come true. Abe and Debbie are a couple.
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