Islands in the Stream Part 1, Chapter 8 Summary

Ernest Hemingway

Part 1, Chapter 8 Summary

In the middle of the night, Thomas Hudson awakens to hear the sounds of the boys and Roger sleeping peacefully. He thinks of how he liked to live alone, but now he wants the boys to stay forever. He knows when the boys leave he will enjoy the solitude for a while but then the loneliness will return.

Thomas Hudson has built his life on the island by the Gulf Stream and has developed many habits and customs to handle the loneliness. These will come again once he has moved past the loneliness. For now, he is happy and does not find happiness dull, as it is so often purported to be. He is realizing this summer just how much he loves his boys. He wishes he had them with him all the time and that he was still married to Tom’s mother. He comes to the realization that it is a waste of time to wish for something he cannot have.

He hopes Roger will stay, but then he remembers the women with whom he has been in trouble. He has been in enough trouble with women himself that he does not pity Roger. He remembers the last girl in Paris who Roger loved, but eventually he saw her for what she was and grew to not even like her. After he breaks up with the girl, Roger goes out “on the town” and dates three girls in a row. Thomas Hudson likes none of them and calls the first one “Bitchy the Great.” She was the first girl who ever left Roger (instead of the other way around). The next two girls looked like her, but Roger left both of them. After that he decided to go out West for a while. Thomas Hudson tells him that geography will not cure him, but Roger says that a healthy life and plenty of work might help.

Thomas Hudson offered Roger the use of his ranch, though he warned Roger that it would be “rugged” over the winter months. Roger told him that he wanted it to be rugged so he could have a fresh start. Now Thomas Hudson wonders how it will turn out. He believes Roger has wasted most of his talent by writing to order rather than writing his own material. Everything that happens to a writer is part of his training, but Roger has been misusing his talent. Writing talent is inside you—it is not just a set of tools with which to work. He considers himself lucky to be a painter because he has more things to work with. Gradually, Thomas Hudson stops thinking about whether Roger can start anew. He decides to find a way to help him and then goes back to sleep.