Alexandre Chenevert, the cashier, wakes up at night worrying about world affairs. Longshoremen are on strike, and food rots on the docks while poverty-stricken children suffer from malnutrition. It is 1947, Germany has surrendered, the war is over, yet fighting still continues in Greece. Chenevert visualizes Jewish refugees, refused admission by the British mandate government, drowning off the coast of Palestine, and decides he hates England. His stomach hurts, but medicines in his bathroom cabinet offer no relief. He falls asleep shortly before the alarm rings and awakes befuddled and unrefreshed.
At the bank in his glass teller’s cage, Chenevert tries being impassive and working in a mechanical manner but becomes irritable and scolds customers who fail to fill out deposit or withdrawal slips properly. He quarrels with a coworker who does not share his worries about world affairs. When closing his accounts for the day, he discovers a one-hundred-dollar error, which he must repay in small installments.
Chenevert consults a doctor, but tests fail to show objective causes for stomach pains. The doctor thinks he worries unnecessarily and suggests he take a vacation. Chenevert decides to rent a lakeside cabin and recruit his strength in the countryside while his wife visits their daughter.
Roy inserts a pastoral episode as the middle third of the novel, occupying seven of the book’s twenty-two chapters. Chenevert sleeps well in his...
(The entire section is 450 words.)