Islands in the Stream Part 1, Chapter 5 Summary

Ernest Hemingway

Part 1, Chapter 5 Summary

Roger goes out before breakfast, so Thomas Hudson eats alone and then begins working. When Roger returns, they discuss the events of the previous evening, which neither of them can remember clearly.

Thomas Hudson’s three sons arrive later in the day. They are reserved at first but soon treat the house as their home and leave their things lying around on the floor. Thomas Hudson reflects on the appearance of each boy: Young Tom is like a tragic Indian; David, an otter; and Andrew, a pocket battleship. The boys have a tendency to argue among themselves and do so frequently. They talk with Thomas Hudson about their earlier childhood adventures in the States, especially on the ranch out West. Thomas Hudson tells them of his time in France, when Young Tom was a small boy. Young Tom can remember shooting pigeons, finding one still alive, and taking it home for a pet until the cat killed it and ate it. Young Tom also talks about his father’s friends in Paris—James Joyce, Ford Madox Ford, and Ezra Pound. He remembers his father referring to them as “mad,” which Young Tom thinks means like a mad dog, so he imagines them with foam coming from their mouths.

Andrew is bored with these conversations and begs his father for stories of something else. He swears, which his father reminds him he is not supposed to do in the presence of grown-ups. Young Tom tells his brothers that if they really want to learn how to swear, they should read James Joyce. He had taken one of Joyce’s books to school and read it out loud to the other boys, which almost got him expelled.

The boys and Roger go for a swim before lunch. Thomas Hudson thinks he should swim as well, but he’s too lazy. After lunch, Andrew announces that he wants to be Roger’s friend as Young Tom was James Joyce’s, since Roger is a writer too.

Young Tom asks about Pascin, another artist friend of his father’s in Paris. Thomas Hudson explains that Pascin’s paintings are as explicit as Joyce’s writings, though Pascin had a dirty mind, according to Thomas Hudson, and Joyce did not. Young Tom asks Roger if he has a dirty mind. When Roger states that he does not think he does, Young Tom is relieved; he had avoided expulsion from school by stating that neither he nor Joyce has a dirty mind.