Chapter 9 Summary

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On the day of his appointment to see Mr. Emerson, the trustee, the narrator encountered a rambling man in the street who reminded him of some of the Golden Day patrons. He found this simultaneously comic and unsettling, and stopped for breakfast at a drugstore while mulling over his experience and contemplating how far he had come.

Arriving at Mr. Emerson’s office, the narrator was dazzled to find the office full of rich, ornate art and decor. A well-dressed young man at reception received the letter, excusing himself for a moment. When he returned, the narrator perceived a shift in the conversation’s tone. He couldn’t figure out what, exactly, had changed, but he found the young man’s demeanor perplexing.

The young man asked the narrator what his goals were, and the narrator responded that he would like to earn enough money to pay next year’s school expenses. The man seemed especially uncomfortable to hear this, suggesting that the narrator might consider matriculating somewhere up north instead. Unsure why the conversation had taken this sudden turn, the narrator insisted that he was returning to the Southern campus at his earliest opportunity.

Tentatively, the man asked if he’d read the letter he’d just brought in, and the narrator said no. Now visibly upset, the man began ranting about justice and fairness and asked if he might speak frankly with the narrator. The narrator consented, and the two nearly approached an argument in the ensuing conversation. Eventually, however, the man revealed that Mr. Emerson was his father, continuing to reveal the contents of the letter: Dr. Bledsdoe, addressing his old friends, had explained that he had no intention of letting the narrator return to school under any condition. His expulsion, the letter continued, followed a major transgression and a fundamental violation of the school’s rules of comportment.

The younger Emerson attempted to console the shocked narrator, telling him he was free of his burdens now and suggesting that he seek alternative employment. He offered him a job as his personal valet, and when the narrator declined, he told him he might find laboring work at Liberty Paint.

Exiting the building in a daze and eventually wandering back to Men’s House, the narrator replayed the events of the recent past. He felt foolish and embarrassed, but this eventually gave way to escalating anger. Realizing he needed to get his affairs in order at once if he wanted to sustain himself in the city, he called Liberty Paint and made an appointment to start work the following morning.

As he got in bed, pondering his intentional humiliation, he decided he would one day return to campus and kill Dr. Bledsdoe.

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