Part 3, Chapters 39 Summary

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Gladney plans to find Willie Mink (Mr. Gray), shoot him three times, create a suicide scene, take the Dylar, drive back to Blacksmith, hide the car, and walk home. He looks in the motel window, the latent violence “a smashing intensity” inside him.

Gladney enters the motel room and faces a man dressed in a Hawaiian-print shirt and Budweiser shorts. The man does not look away from the television screen as he asks whether Gladney is “heartsick or soulsick.” Eventually he looks at Gladney and says he must be here for Dylar, the same thing for which others have come. It soon becomes apparent to Gladney that this former genius has become nothing but a pill-taking drug dealer who has lost touch with most of reality.

Mink eats the white pills like candy and Gladney begins to feel sorry that Babette resorted to this in order to conquer her fear of death. Mink asks Gladney how many pills he wants to buy and mentions that he used to have sex in this room with a woman in a ski mask. Gladney is “nearer to death, nearer to second sight,” and he reviews his plan to kill this pathetic man.

Gladney remembers Babette’s comments about Dylar’s side effects and gets Mink to act out whatever words he speaks. Gladney’s could shoot but is distracted by the white noise emanating from the television. His consciousness begins to grow and he understands everything around him now; Mink keeps talking and Gladney is ready to kill him immediately. He does not want to compromise his “elegant plan.” Gladney reveals exactly who he is and why he is here, and the crazed man huddles in a corner of the bathroom behind the toilet.

As the noise in the room intensifies in Gladney’s mind, he shoots. He fires a second shot, just because, and imagines he is “storing up life-credit” by killing Mink. He carefully wipes his fingerprints off the gun and places it in Mink’s lifeless hand. Mink rallies enough to shoot Gladney in the wrist. The pain recalls Gladney to reality and he now sees Mink with compassion and remorse. After bandaging his wrist, Gladney drags Mink out to the borrowed car, stops to breathe life back into the dying man, convinces Mink that he shot himself, and drives them both to the hospital. Mink will live.

The nurse (a nun) tosses the gun in a drawer with dozens of other weapons. Gladney speaks rudimentary German with her. When he asks about her view of heaven, the nurse speaks contemptuously of salvation, angels, creation, and saints. She claims religion maintains the forms of belief only for the sake of the nonbelievers; it is nonsense to her. She grows furious at his questioning and begins to recite litanies to him in German; it sounds beautiful to him.

Gladney parks the blood-stained car back in the neighbors’ driveway. He cannot sleep; there is nothing more for him to do than wait for the next glorious sunset.

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Part 3, Chapters 38 Summary


Part 3, Chapters 40 Summary