Chapter 7 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1284

Lianne sees the hint of two towers, the smudges of grey behind the white bottle in the still life. She turns away from the painting and is struck by what she sees as another still life in the living room—Mother and Lover. Nina does not see towers in the painting; she sees architecture maybe, but not modern towers. When Nina has stopped looking at everything else, she plans to look at these still life paintings. Eventually she will simply look at blank walls. Lianne teases Martin, asking what he has on his walls. He tells her he keeps bare walls—almost bare—both at home and at the office.

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The couple’s argument continues: God does or does not exist and invoking God is a way to excuse bad behavior. Martin hunches down to where Nina is sitting and leans toward her. First they kill and then people try to understand them, he says; perhaps people will eventually learn their names, but they must kill to get the attention. And the argument continues. Finally Nina announces she will smoke a cigarette, and the tension eases. While Martin gets another beer, Nina asks about Justin, as he is planning to draw her portrait. When Martin returns, the debate continues but is interrupted by a phone call. Every call Martin takes seems secretive and is conducted in a variety of languages. The older couple talks about traveling, taking a trip to see the ruins. New York now has ruins, but Nina does not want to go see them. As Martin works his way to the door, he tells her the towers were built to demonstrate wealth and power, which was an obvious provocation, taunting someone to bring them down. Then he opens the door and leaves.

Keith and Justin are watching poker on television when Lianne comes into the room. Father has taught son some of the fundamentals of the game, but Keith understands this is television drama rather than anything real. Lianne enjoys watching the players, in their assorted postures and expressions. It reminds her of studying Kierkegaard in college. She sees Keith watching her in the reflection of the screen, and she smiles at him. As Lianne swoops Justin off to bed, Keith asks his son if he would like a set of poker chips and a deck of cards. He says, “maybe,” so he means yes.

Finally Lianne must speak to Elena about the music, so she pounds on her door. Lianne tells her it is loud and asks why she must play this particular music now. Elena just keeps telling her it is beautiful music and she likes it because it brings her peace. Even when Elena’s large dog comes to the door, Lianne is persistent and tells her that it seems personal under the circumstances; however, Elena admits to no circumstances, claiming it is just music and it brings her peace. No one has ever complained, says Elena; Lianne must be ultrasensitive. Lianne is explosive and reminds her the entire city is ultrasensitive right now. Elena tells her to walk more quickly out of the building if she is bothered by the music. Lianne shoves Elena’s face back and slams the door. The music continues.

Rumsey’s cubicle was near the north façade. He and Keith played pickup hockey games in the middle of the night, wandered the streets in the summer at lunchtime, looked and talked about women, told stories, and found comfort in having a friend. Rumsey was also single but was having an affair with a married woman, and he had compulsions. He counted things and remembered random and useless information; he memorized license plates while driving. He counted the toes on women’s feet. The two men were friends.

Later, after Lianne tells him about the altercation with Elena, Keith tells her it was a crazy thing to do, considering the gigantic dog. He hesitates but tells her that when he just came up the stairs, the music was still playing—no softer, no louder. Forget the music, he says, but she tells...

(The entire section contains 1284 words.)

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