Chapter 5

Caroline fell in love with Julian at the age of twenty-seven, in the summer of 1926. It was an uneventful year in US history and a time in which Caroline “was sure her life had reached a pinnacle of uselessness.” After she finished college, she taught “the Italian and Negro children at the Gibbsville Mission . . . but she didn’t like it.” She liked the children who were more like those in Lantenengo Street than the ones who were more like Mission kids. One day Caroline was closing the Mission when an eleven-year-old redheaded Irish boy followed her and slid his hands under her skirt. Though she slapped him and kicked him, “he had touched her where he wanted with his vile little fingers.” Caroline was afraid that she had acquired a venereal disease, so she went to see Doctor Malloy. Upon examining her, the doctor told her she was healthy and ready to marry and have babies. After this experience, Caroline realized she knew little about sex. She had been in love twice. The first time was with Jerome Walker, a distant cousin from England whose left leg had been injured in the war. She and Jerome kissed several times before he went back to England without telling her he loved her. A few months later he died from gangrene. The other time she fell in love was with Joe Montgomery, a rich man from Reading. They spent a day at the beach in Long Island, where Caroline was embarrassed to have to swim in her undergarments. They both said they loved each other. They decided to get informally engaged and to write to each other for the next two months, while Caroline was in Paris. Caroline expressed her desire to have a sexual encounter with a man before marrying that man, but that desire remained unfulfilled with Joe. In one of the letters, Joe wrote that he was now with another girl. After finding this out, Caroline decided to get drunk for the first time with a handsome Jewish man from Harvard...

(The entire section is 794 words.)