Chapter 3

This chapter returns to the present with Tom’s visit to New York to see Savannah. He has not spoken with her in three years. He goes to her psychiatrist’s office and talks with Savannah’s doctor, Dr. Lowenstein. Dr. Lowenstein tells Tom that she needs him to tell her everything about Savannah’s life, including her childhood, so she can help her.


Tom is offended by the doctor’s condescending nature, and all of his manners are lost. Dr. Lowenstein tries to draw answers about the Wingo siblings’ childhood from Tom, but he is sarcastic and of little help. It becomes apparent that Savannah has been in numerous mental hospitals and has tried to kill herself many times before. Dr. Lowenstein says they found Savannah covering herself in her own excrement; Tom says he has seen her do that before and it no longer shocks him. They agree to meet at the hospital that evening.

They find Savannah in a catatonic state at the hospital. Tom sits with her and talks for half an hour until it is time to go. He has seen Savannah this way before, and he reassures her that she will be fine again. Before he leaves, he carries her to bed and brushes her hair, while singing a song form their childhood.

Dr. Lowenstein treats Tom to dinner at a French restaurant. They discuss their own lives as well as Savannah. Tom tells Dr. Lowenstein that his father is in prison and Luke is the family tragedy. Dr. Lowenstein gives Tom a piece of paper on which she recorded Savannah’s gibberish. Tom says that it is her autobiography. He agrees to stay in New York and tell the whole story of their family to Dr. Lowenstein.

Tom goes to Savannah’s apartment after dinner. He is confronted by Eddie Detreville, a homosexual friend of Savannah’s, who thinks Tom is an intruder. Tom asks why Eddie did not call him about Savannah, but Eddie was told never to call her family. Eddie was the one who found her when she tried to kill herself. He saved her life. Eddie stays and has a drink with Tom. He tells Tom that he is afraid Savannah will not pull out of it this time.

Notes
This chapter furthers the plot, bringing Tom to New York City. In New York City, a place ironically associated with anonymity, Tom will discover who he is.

The theme of manhood is also seen in the chapter. Tom wonders how he has become such a mediocre middle-aged man. He decides he will reclaim himself and become the man he believes he is supposed to be. Also ironic, is that Eddie is the hero so far: he saved Savannah’s life. Eddie is a homosexual and thus not really “a man,” in the stereotypical macho sense. Tom will have to redefine his notions of manhood and save himself before he is able to fulfill his duties as brother, husband, and father.

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