Chapter 3 Summary

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The narrator, furious that Mr. Norton had been exposed to a scoundrel who may have tainted his broader view of Black men, realized there was only one place to get whiskey nearby and that it, too, would give an unfavorable impression of the community. Stopping at the Golden Day, a nearby bar and brothel, he attempted to go into the crowded bar and retrieve a glass of whiskey to bring back out to Mr. Norton. The bar was always rowdy, but especially so today—a large number of veterans occupied the barstools, and many were volatile after returning from the horrors of war without receiving any mental health care.

Conscious that he couldn’t bring Mr. Norton into this environment without further compounding the trustee’s shock, the narrator begged the bartender to let him take the drink to go. The bartender refused, telling him he couldn’t serve anything past the front door. Resigned to and (fearful of) the now-inevitable escalation of the problem, the narrator finally carried the ailing Mr. Norton inside as a last resort with the help of another patron. One of the veterans, seeing Mr. Norton, mistook the man for his grandfather and started creating a commotion. Another man insisted that the first man was obviously wrong—Mr. Norton was actually John D. Rockefeller.

The narrator put Mr. Norton in a chair, and Burnside, a former army medic, checked his pulse. He was alive, Burnside confirmed, and the bartender brought him a glass. The narrator helped Mr. Norton take a sip. Revived, he was confused to have awoken in the Golden Day and asked if the others present were Burnside’s patients too. The narrator, uncomfortable and dreading the potential repercussions, told him he was in a “sporting and gambling house.” One of the other patrons added that they were all patients, and they had been sent to the Golden Day for “therapy.”

Amid the excitement, a fight broke out among the bar’s patrons, and Mr. Norton was injured. A former doctor assisted but soon began ranting about the state of the world and accusing both Mr. Norton and the narrator of being oblivious to their roles in the world. Incensed, Mr. Norton insisted they leave at once.

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Chapter 4 Summary