Chapter 12 Summary
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 766
Though he does not want to think about it, Emery still anticipates that the new jesus will do something for him in exchange for releasing him from his glass cage. It is a mixture of lust and hope, and he only has a vague idea of how he wants to be rewarded. Emery is a young man with ambition. What he does know is that he wants his condition to improve, that he wants to be “THE young man of the future.” One day he wants people to line up to shake his hand.
He spends the afternoon fidgeting and picks the silk off the borrowed umbrella until it is nothing but a black stick with a sharp point at one end and a dog’s head at the other. When he leaves at seven that evening, he carries the walking stick under his arm and feels distinguished. Though he senses he is setting off to receive some kind of honor, he is afraid he may have to take it rather than have it given to him. For Emery, every outing begins with a meal; tonight, he eats at the Paris Diner, a place where the waitress doesn't like him.
He orders soup and a chocolate shake. There is only one other customer in the restaurant and he has already finished his meal; however, the waitress begins frying bacon for herself instead of preparing Emery’s order. He prods her hip from behind with his stick but she still does not fill his order. Emery changes his order to a piece of cake and sits next to the other man and asks for part of his newspaper; the man wordlessly hands him the comics.
As he reads, a dramatic change is reflected in Emery’s face; he is transformed by something he read and he appears to have somehow been awakened. Now he knows what he wants as his reward, and he tells the waitress she may never see him again—at least like this. He walks out into the rain and makes his way through the back streets until he arrives at the theater. The truck carrying Gonga the gorilla is parked across the street as the ape shakes hands under the marquee. Emery watches people, young and old, shake the creature’s hand until he suddenly darts into the back door of the truck.
Once the film begins and the people are gone, Gonga heads to the back of the truck while his "keeper" gets into the front with the driver. The vehicle starts and quickly arrives at the highway. Certain thumping noises can be heard in the back of the truck but are drowned out by the humming of the engine and the buzz of wheels on the road. When the truck slows at a railroad crossing, Emery slips out the back, nearly falls, and limps into the woods.
Once he is in the darkness of the bushes, he puts down his pointed stick and a bundle from under his arm; he then begins to undress. When his clothes are folded neatly in a pile, he uses the stick to dig a hole in the ground. Emery has a gash that runs from his lower lip to his collarbone and a bruised eye; despite his injuries, he “burning with the intensest kind of unhappiness.” After he makes a small trench, he buries his clothes and fills in the hole. He forgets his shoes and simply tosses them into the dark woods behind him. In a moment, Emery’s white skin is encased in the gorilla costume he had under his arm.
Emery beats his chest and growls, jumping up and down and flailing wildly. The growls are low and thready at first, but they soon become poisonous and low until they stop altogether. Silently he extends his arm, emulates vigorously shaking a hand, and then withdraws it. He repeats this motion several times before putting his walking stick jauntily under his arm and heading for the highway. There is no gorilla anywhere in the world that is happier than this one at this moment. He has finally been rewarded by his god.
A man and woman sit on a rock just off the highway and look toward the city; they do not see the shaggy figure heading toward them. The young man turns just in time to see the hideous black creature before running off into the woods; the young woman then sees him and flees down the highway. The gorilla takes his place on the rock and stares at the city skyline.