Tomorrow and Tomorrow and So Forth Summary

John Updike


(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The lesson for the day in Mark Prosser’s English classroom is Macbeth’s soliloquy on hearing of Lady Macbeth’s death:

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrowCreeps in this petty pace from day to day,To the last syllable of recorded time,And all our yesterdays have lighted foolsThe way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor playerThat struts and frets his hour on the stageAnd then is heard no more. It is a taleTold by an idiot, full of sound and fury,Signifying nothing.

Macbeth’s criticism of life, based on his experience, reflects on the lack of experience or learning taking place in the classroom.

As his students enter the eleventh-grade English classroom, Prosser flatters himself on his ability to interpret their responses to their environment, attributing their restlessness to a change in the weather. The adolescents act out their relationships with one another as they roughhouse their way to their respective seats. Prosser is particularly aware of Gloria Angstrom, whose practically sleeveless pink sweater sets off the whiteness of her arms. His libidinous feelings toward Gloria make him a rival for her attentions with red-headed Peter Forrester, who has not prepared his...

(The entire section is 648 words.)