Chapter 1 Summary
Julius is a Nigerian-born doctor living in the Upper West Side of New York City. In the final year of his residency in psychiatry, Julius decides to start taking long walks in the evening as a way of clearing his head and relaxing from the intense work of his profession.
A solitary, contemplative person, Julius traces his decision to start taking walks to his previous fascination with the migration of birds across the city, which he watches from his window. Among the many birds he sees, he prefers geese, and often finds himself waiting to see them. While he waits, he uses the Internet to listen to classical music stations from Europe.
As Julius begins to walk, he realizes that the physical activity of pushing himself through the city, among its citizens and tall buildings, can be a crucial release from the “tightly regulated mental environment of work.”
One Sunday morning, Julius walks down to Columbus Circle, where he finds crowds of people lining the street. He realizes that it is the day of the New York City marathon. To avoid the din of people, he decides to go inside one of the Time Warner towers where there are shops. But he can’t get to the buildings and decides to go visit one of his former teachers, Professor Saito, who lives nearby.
Professor Saito is a Japanese American professor of literature who is eighty-nine years old. During World War II, Saito was interned along with his family by the American government. When Julius gets to the apartment, he discovers that Saito has cancer, which the professor says is not too bad even though he is connected to a urinary drainage bag.
Julius tells Saito about his walks and about his work at the hospital. He tells him a story about a conservative Christian family whose thirteen-year-old son needed a leukemia treatment that could possibly leave him infertile. Even though the doctors recommended taking a sperm sample so the son could have...
(The entire section is 562 words.)