Chapter 3 Summary
Flashing back seven years, it is New Year’s Eve on Jude’s ninth birthday. While his parents throw a New Year’s party, Jude retreats to his bedroom to play his new Atari video game, given to him that morning by his father. Downstairs the adults sing and dance to Paul Simon.
Suddenly the video game stops working, and after fiddling with the components, Jude is unable to bring the game back to life. He puts on his robe and boots and climbs out his third-floor bedroom window onto the fire escape, where he can see his father’s purple van as well as the greenhouse where Les grows marijuana plants. Suddenly his mother comes outside with Mr. Donahoe, Les’s boss at the college. The two adults have an intense, whispered conversation. The Donahoes are longtime friends of Jude’s parents, and as Mr. Donahoe and Harriet confer, Jude remembers a moment some weeks earlier when Harriet told him his father was out sailing with Mrs. Donahoe. Eventually Mr. Donahoe and Harriet go inside, and Jude goes back up to his room and falls asleep.
Several hours later Jude awakes to more sounds coming from outside. He looks out the window and sees Les in the yard. Les sees Jude leering out the window, so he asks him if he wants to join him in the greenhouse. Jude climbs down the fire-escape steps and enters the electrically lit room full of marijuana plants. Jude wraps himself in his sleeping bag and sits down on the floor next to his father, who is smoking pot. After a while Les unloads some shocking revelations on Jude. First he tells Jude that Mrs. Donahoe is pregnant, and that the pregnancy is a result of his affair with her. Les says that Harriet is angry and wants to end their marriage. Then Les tells Jude that he is adopted and that his mother was not Harriet but a teenager from New York. Les says that Jude was adopted when he ten days old.
As Les finishes this declaration, Harriet walks into the greenhouse carrying a birthday cake lit with nine candles. Harriet says she overheard the last bit of conversation, and she says she can’t believe that Les just told Jude everything. Later that night Jude remembers Harriet coming into his bedroom and singing the song for which he was named, the Beatles’ “Hey Jude,” softly at the foot of his bed.