(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

This novel, whose title derives from the Bible, tells the story of an egocentric, sinful man who learns repentance and gains forgiveness through the love of a meek woman. The plot involves interlocking activities of several characters. Andrew Aikenhead is a successful advertising agent. Andrew’s mentally unbalanced first wife has died, and their son Michael, an infrequently employed engineer, resents his father’s second marriage to Marthe Choate. Marthe’s irresponsible son by her previous marriage, David, has tested the limits of Andrew’s patience.

In a pathetic effort to improve matters, Andrew manages to persuade Michael to vacation with his family and a few friends at his lakeside home. David, who drinks excessively, harasses Sheila, Michael’s sister and the fiancé of Ross, the physician son of Andrew’s partner Jay Hillquist. After arguing noisily with Andrew, David goes boating with Michael in the dark. The two argue. David dives from the boat, swims around foolishly, becomes confused, and calls for help. Michael bruises him with an oar in an angry rescue attempt, then abandons him. The next day David’s drowned body is found. Suspicion falls on Andrew, although the police lack evidence to prosecute. Michael, bitterly blaming his father for much of his life’s trouble, fails to come forward with the truth.

Marthe leaves Andrew, who so declines that Jay dissolves their partnership. Sheila marries Ross but, fearing family...

(The entire section is 571 words.)


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

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