Chapter 10 Summary

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Joining a throng of workers headed to Long Island the next morning, the narrator arrived at Liberty Paint for his first day. He was sent to work for Mr. Kimbro, in the mixing lab, and tasked with making the company’s famous white paint. He was given a very brief tutorial but was ultimately left with insufficient instruction about one of the paint recipes. With nobody around to ask for guidance and a looming deadline approaching, the narrator improvised and ultimately ended up ruining a batch of paint. Mr. Kimbro, furious, fired him and sent him back to the main office.

Rather than sending him home, the main office sent the narrator on a new assignment instead. He was in the basement this time, working under a surly man named Lucius Brockway. Brockway, who ran the furnaces, was annoyed to have been given an assistant and suspicious that the narrator was trying to steal his job. Begrudgingly, he told the narrator to clean and monitor the pressure gauges until he got in touch with his boss to have him reassigned.

The two struggled to get along with each other, and as they continued to bicker, the narrator decided he didn’t especially care for Lucius Brockway. When they broke for lunch, the narrator returned to the locker room and was surprised to interrupt what appeared to be a union meeting. The union members, suspicious of the stranger, assumed he must be a spy sent by the company and forced him to leave.

The narrator returned to the basement and told Lucius about his encounter in the locker room, and Lucius was furious that he’d been communicating with the unionists. He attempted to explain that he wasn’t one of them, but Lucius wouldn’t listen, and the disagreement escalated into a physical altercation.

The fight eventually dissipated, and they were interrupted by a hissing sound from one of the boilers. Lucius told the narrator to turn one of the handles, and the boiler exploded.

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Chapter 9 Summary


Chapter 11 Summary