Chapter 6 Summary

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Chapter 6, another third-person chapter, tells the story of Frank’s girlfriend, Lily. She used to be a seamstress at a theater, and she reflects that the actresses there were rude, always ordering her around and referring to her as “the girl.” She did not mind this because it was a good job. She often overheard arguments between the actors and director, but she never paid much attention until her boss got arrested and the theater closed.

After losing her job, Lily began work at a dry cleaner’s. It did not pay so well, but she nevertheless managed to save enough money for a down payment on a house. She consulted a real estate agent about a house advertisement, and she was told that she could not buy the home. When she demanded to know why, the agent showed Lily the following passage from the house contract:

No part of said property hereby conveyed shall ever be used or occupied by any Hebrew or by any person of the Ethiopian, Malay, or Asiatic race excepting only employees in domestic service.

In other words, Lily was not allowed to buy the house because she was black. This infuriated her, and she initially refused the agent’s offer of “rentals and apartments” in neighborhoods where she was allowed to live. However, she later conceded defeat and rented a new apartment.

Unable to pursue her goal of owning a home, Lily felt “stifled.” At this stage in her life, she met Frank Money. Her relationship with him was “glorious at first,” but it soon fell apart. Its failure was “more of a stutter than a single eruption.” She often arrived home from work to find him silent, half-dressed, and staring off at nothing. He showed no interest when she complained about problems in their apartment building, and he obviously had no interest in owning a home. According to Lily, “he seemed to have no goals at all.”

Lily realized only slowly that Frank was still traumatized by his experiences in the Korean War. She recalls that he once grew terrified at the sight of a little Asian girl at a church picnic. He fled, embarrassing Lily greatly. Afterward, he refused to explain himself. He only said that he would never embarrass her that way again.

During this period, Lily, an excellent seamstress, was developing a decent business sewing lace and embroidering cloths. She set her sights on a full-time career as a business owner. Her progress toward this goal gave her a great deal of satisfaction.

Meanwhile, Frank remained idle. He could not hold a job, and he did no housework. When she tried to argue with him, he did not argue back. Then one day he asked her for a large sum of money so he could go and rescue his sick sister. Lily was disgusted, but she gave him the money and let him go.

Now that Frank is gone, Lily is not lonely. Instead she feels free, glad to run her life as she pleases, without a man to mess things up and weigh things down. The day he left, she found a purse full of shiny coins. “In Frank Money’s empty space real money glittered.” To Lily, this is a sign that she is meant to be alone.

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