A Scene Outline
by Steven Moore

annotations with scene outline
scenes 1 - 10 | pp. 3 - 59    
 scenes 11 - 20 | pp. 59 - 149   
scenes 21 - 30 | pp. 149 - 194
scenes 31--40 | pp. 194 - 251
scenes 41--50 | pp. 251--352
scenes 51 - 60 | pp. 352 - 449
scenes 61 - 70 | pp. 449 - 580
scenes 71 - 83 | pp. 580 - 726
scene outline only

The following outline of scenes in J R is offered to help readers find their way around in the novel's continuous, uninterrupted 726 pages of text. The scene divisions are mine, not Gaddis’s.  The outline is included in the annotations for J R, accessible via the links in the left column at the top and bottom of this page.

The settings are based partly on the text, partly on extratextual evidence. For example, Massapequa is never named as the setting for the Long Island sections of the novel, but Gaddis’s remarks elsewhere (e.g., his Review of Contemporary Fiction interview of 1982) make it obvious that his hometown is meant. Gaddis had a habit of setting his novels in places where he lived, so I am assuming Eigen’s downtown apartment is at 193 Second Avenue (at 13th Street), where Gaddis lived in the early 1960s after living in the 96th Street apartment shared in the novel by Eigen and Gibbs. 

The time is autumn in the early 1970s.

Scene 1 (3.1-17.32)
Bast home, outside of Massapequa, Long Island
The lawyer Coen holds a largely futile legal discussion with Anne and Julia Bast; their nephew Edward leaves the house unobserved, much to Coen’s exasperation.

transition (17.33-18.7) 
Coen drives from the Basts’ house into the center of town.

Scene 2 (18.7-19.35)
Outside the bank in Massapequa

Principal Whiteback converses with Amy Joubert outside his bank; both see Coach Vogel, then Edward Bast, who joins the conversation; a retarded boy frightens Amy into dropping a bag of money, which Bast promises to deliver later.

transition (19.35-.38) 
Whiteback and Amy drive to their school; Jack Gibbs witnesses their arrival from his classroom window.

Scene 3 (19.35-21.30)
a middle school in Massapequa

Gibbs in classroom teaching concept of entropy; Gall outside arrives for meeting.

transition (21.30-22.6)
Dan diCephalis travels from parking lot to Principal’s office.

Scene 4 (22.7-31.27)
School, Principal’s office

Conference between Miss Flesch, diCephalis, Whiteback, Gall, and Major Hyde; Congressman Pecci joins; all watch teaching programs on television; diCephalis leaves to deliver teaching materials for Mozart program.

transition (31.27-.39) 
“The even passage of the sun” over Massapequa.

Scene 5 (31.40-37.8)
Jewish temple, Massapequa

J R on phone in an office, Bast in the hall rehearsing Wagner’s Rhinegold. 

Scene 6 (37.8-38.10)

DiCephalis drives Bast to television studio, where his wife Ann prepares Bast to deliver Miss Flesch’s Mozart lecture.

Scene 7 (38.11-51.21)
School, Principal’s office

Hyde, Whiteback, Pecci, Gibbs, and two Foundation visitors (Ford and Gall) view educational television programs, including Bast’s on Mozart.

transition (51.22-52.14) 
DiCephalis offers to “ride” Gibbs somewhere, then drives alone to television studio.

Scene 8 (52.15-54.17)
Television studio, Massapequa

DiCephalis picks up his wife and drives home.

Scene 9 (54.18-57.20)
 DiCephalis home, Massapequa

Domestic life with “Dad” and children, Nora and Donny.

Scene 10 (57.21-59.27)
Bast catches up with J R and demands money taken at Rhinegold rehearsal; J R walks him home.

transition (59.28-.42) 
Alone, Bast walks to back entrance of Bast property.

Scene 11 (59.44-68.20)
Bast home

Anne and Julia talk with their niece Stella Angel about Reuben and other family members; Bast enters (67). 

Scene 12 (68.21-73.9)
Bast’s studio

Bast plays on the piano a piece he has written for Stella, confesses his love; Stella’s cab arrives.

transition (73.9-.13) 
Cab ride to train station.

Scene 13 (73.13-74.21)
Massapequa train station
Stella runs into Gibbs, also waiting for the train.

transition (74.41-75.7)
Passing of night to “another blue day.”

Scene 14 (75.7-89.19)
Massapequa to Manhattan

Amy takes pupils on field trip to New York; Bast, also going in to town, reluctantly assists; J R and the Hyde boy compare portfolios on train ride; children visit Wall Street, where they are met by Dave Davidoff, and taken to Crawley & Bro., where they purchase one share of Diamond Cable.

Scene 15 (89.20-110.38)
Typhon International (midtown)

While students view a film, Amy confers with her great uncle Governor John Cates and her father, Monty Moncrieff.

Scene 16 (110.39-121.38)
Automat (a block from Typhon)

Children have lunch; Amy converses with Bast, then Gibbs; feeling unwell, she leaves the children in Bast’s care. 

Scene 17 (121.38-129.42)
Midtown Manhattan to Massapequa
Bast takes children to a Western movie, then back by train to Massapequa. 

Scene 18 (129.43-137.8)

Bast runs into Gibbs at train station, who gives him a key to the 96th Street apartment he shares with Eigen; J R walks Bast home to try and enlist his assistance. 

Scene 19 (137.8-143.16)
Bast’s studio

Bast discovers kids have broken into his studio; Stella there too, who attempts to seduce him, but her husband Norman Angel arrives with police; they leave Bast distracted.

Scene 20 (143.17-149.14)
Massapequa to Manhattan

Stella and Norman drive home; discuss estate problems; go to sleep in separate beds. Norman leaves next day for plant. 

Scene 21 (149.15-154.43)
General Roll plant, Astoria
Angel confers with his foreman Leo; learns that his secretary Terry has been posing for pornographic photographs; Angel leaves for business trip to Chicago. 

Scene 22 (154.44-156.11)
General Roll plant
Terry handles phones for a few days while Angel’s out of town. 

Scene 23 (156.12-159.18)
General Roll plant 
Angel returns, clears up business, leaves for home.

Scene 24 (159.8-161.21)
Astoria to Manhattan

Angel sees Gibbs (visiting his daughter), but Gibbs escapes before Angel can reach him and walks to subway station behind Terry and Myrna. At Penn Station, Gibbs offers to buy Myrna a drink.

Scene 25 (161.22-166.44)
Penn Station to Massapequa

DiCephalis runs into wife Ann and travels with her by train home; disastrous dinner and puppet play; next day he drives to post office.

Scene 26 (166.45-174.8)
Massapequa post office
DiCephalis jostles J R and the Hyde boy, who compare mail; J R explains army fork deal; boys walk to school; overhear drug deal in boys’ restroom.

transition (174.9-.12) 
Time passes at school. 

Scene 27 (174.12-185.15)

Coach Vogel and Whiteback chat in boys’ room; Whiteback returns to principal’s office, joining diCephalis, Hyde, and Stye (an insurance agent); Gibbs on television, who later joins them in office (183); Gibbs learns of Schramm’s accident, takes a swing at Hyde, then leaves for post office and train station. 

Scene 28 (185.16-188.3)
J R and Hyde boy walk to post office, run into Gibbs there.

Scene 29 (188.3-191.3)
Massapequa to New York
Gibbs argues with ticket-seller; trains into New York; calls Eigen about Schramm; spots Amy in Penn Station. 

Scene 30 (191.4-194.5)

Amy greets her son Francis, hurries for a cab to avoid Gibbs; after freshening up at her apartment (in the East 70s) she takes Francis to various museums, dinner; after Francis goes to sleep, her husband Lucien arrives (192-93); next morning father and son are gone. Amy takes a cab down to Typhon. 

Scene 31 (194.5-197.7)
Typhon International

Amy confers reluctantly with Davidoff, wishing to see the lawyer Beaton instead. 

Scene 32 (197.8-206.42)
Crawley & Bro.

Crawley confers with Bast on his aunts’ stock and reviews the contents of J R’s portfolio; Crawley commissions Bast to write some “zebra music” for a film he has produced, then phones Beaton.

Scene 33 (206.43-217.17)
Typhon International

Beaton answers Crawley’s call, then returns to his discussion with Amy; afterwards, Amy again confers reluctantly with Davidoff.

Scene 34 (217.18-219.44)
Typhon to Massapequa

Hyde listens to Davidoff over intercom, drives back to Massapequa (his watch ripped from his wrist at a stoplight, his car nearly vandalized as he works on it). 

Scene 35 (220.1-228.35)
Principal’s office

Hyde joins a budget conference with Whiteback, District Superintendent Vern Teakell, later diCephalis; Whiteback bumps into J R outside his office; a student steals Hyde’s car. 

Scene 36 (228.36-229.35)
J R and the Hyde boy talk, then J R calls Bast residence, reaching Anne. 

Scene 37 (229.23-235.35)
Bast home

Anne hangs up on J R, and discusses family matters with her sister; several days pass.

transition (235.35-236.5)
Brief travelogue. 

Scene 38 (236.6-241.38)
Principal’s office

Whiteback speaks to one of Bast’s aunts on the phone, then talks with Amy, later Gibbs. Learns that diCephalis and Hyde were in a car accident together with the student who stole Hyde’s car.

Scene 39 (241.39-250.12)
Massapequa to New York
Gibbs talks to Ann diCephalis on the way to the train station; talks with Amy on train ride. 

Scene 40 (250.13-251.45)
Penn Station, then Automat 
Gibbs calls ex-wife, then tries to call Bast (reaches his “secretary” in the next booth), then calls Eigen. 

Scene 41 (251.46-257.22)
Typhon International

Eigen receives Gibbs’ call, then Davidoff’s; Beaton and Davidoff argue the stockholder’s suit that J R has filed; crew arrives to remove Schepperman’s painting.

Scene 42 (257.23-272.44)
Eigen’s apartment (2nd Avenue)

Eigen’s wife Marian needles him about his friends; his strained, loveless home life displayed; Eigen leaves with a policeman for the 96th Street apartment to check up on Schramm; Gibbs arrives (267) and Marian tells him she plans to leave Tom, and when she finally tells him of Schramm’s suicide, Gibbs takes a cab to 96th Street.

Scene 43 (272.45-286.18)
96th Street apartment 
between 2nd and 3rd  Avenues 
Gibbs joins Eigen to discover Schramm has hanged himself; they return to their own apartment down the hall. While Eigen goes for liquor, Bast arrives (277); Tom returns; after Gibbs and Eigen leave, Bast spends the night composing.

Scene 44 (286.19-290.15
96th Street apartment

Gibbs returns next day, reads to Bast the opening of his unfinished book, Agapē Agape. 

Scene 45 (290.16-309.35)
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Fifth Avenue and 82nd
Bast walks down to the Met, where he runs into Crawley, then meets with J R (291), there on a school trip, to discuss the Eagle Mills takeover. Crawley runs into Amy with her students (Vogel assisting), then leaves them in Vogel’s care. 


Vogel talks to himself during the bus trip back to Massapequa; tries to dump the kids on Ann diCephalis in the school parking lot, but she escapes home. 

Scene 46 (310.20-317.44)
DiCephalis home

Dan returns from hospital, catches up on school news. A few days pass. Dan walks to school. 

Scene 47 (317.45-332.22)

Vogel kids diCephalis about his suit; Gibbs holds up school schedule by reading the Constitution over PA system; in principal’s office Whiteback, diCephalis, and Hyde discuss school matters; Pecci joins in (324); Whiteback chastises J R for using school’s adding machine (332). 

Scene 48 (332.23-341.33)
J R conducts business on pay phone; Gibbs uses the phone to call his lawyer (to tell him he’s sent his General Roll stock to his ex-wife in lieu of alimony), then goes to Whiteback’s office (339), and finally to a bar. 

Scene 49 (341.34-348.7)

Gibbs returns to school (nearly catching J R returning from post office), sees Vogel about a shoe. J R back on school phone with Bast. Gibbs (in the deceased Buzzie’s sneakers) uses phone after him, then sees Amy in hall, interrupted by Stella, who offers to drive Gibbs into town.

Scene 50 (348.8-352.12)
Massapequa to New York

While driving to Manhattan, Stella lies to Gibbs about Norman beating her and shows his pornographic photos of Terry, but she is primarily interested in Gibbs’s five shares of General Roll stock; drops Gibbs off and continues to her apartment. 

Scene 51 (352.12-353.37)
Angel apartment

Stella entertains a lesbian lover. 

Scene 52 (353.38-361.20)
General Roll plant

Angel and Coen discuss finances and Gibbs’s past history with the company. 

Scene 53 (361.20-362.33)
General Roll plant
Myrna and Terry chat, then take subway to Manhattan with Angel following them; he spots Bast at subway stop.

Scene 54 (362.33-378.28)
96th Street apartment

Bast walks from subway stop to apartment and finds Rhoda there; both spy Gibbs and Myrna making love in adjacent apartment; Rhoda stays the night while Bast works on film score. He leaves next morning for an appointment; a picture-phone is installed in apartment.

Scene 55 (378.28-388.24)
96th Street apartment

Bast returns, finds Rhoda gone; J R calls; a drunken Gibbs arrives (382), and Eigen shortly afterwards.

Scene 56 (388.25-400.45)
96th Street, former Schramm apartment
Beamish, Mrs. Schramm’s lawyer, discusses his estate with Gibbs and Eigen. Learn that Marian left Eigen while he was away in Germany. 

Scene 57 (401.1-414.12)
Eigen’s apartment

After a brief run-in with the “five Jones boys,” Eigen and Gibbs take a cab downtown to the former’s apartment; discuss marriage and Wiener on communication. Gibbs invents Divorce board game (410); both get drunk and fall asleep.

Scene 58 (414.13-419.12)
Typhon International

Eigen leaves Gibbs in his apartment and takes a cab to work; talks with Gall about each other’s plays. Learns that Miss Flesch (formerly of J R’s school) is his new supervisor.

Scene 59 (419.12-437.29)
Typhon International

Cates, Zona Selk, and Beaton discuss various matters. 

Scene 60 (437.30-449.20)
Crawley & Bro.

Bast and Crawley discuss music and financial matters. 

Scene 61 (449.21-463.17)

Whiteback, Vern, Dan, Amy (briefly), then Hyde discuss school matters.

transition (463.18-.26) 
Eisenhower’s “cheaply framed” portrait; twenty seconds pass. 

Scene 62 (463.27-475.27)

Vogel kids Dan in boys’ room, then admires Amy’s “cheek”; she waits to use the phone while J R talks with Bast, then with Davidoff and his lawyer Piscator. Amy tries to reach her father in Washington, then talks with J R on her way to the train station.

Scene 63 (475.27-483.31)
Massapequa to New York

Amy runs into Gibbs at train station, and ride together to her Manhattan apartment; unsuccessful attempt at sex.

Scene 64 (483.32-491.9)
Amy’s apartment (East 70s)

Gibbs awakes alone, but Amy returns later that day; they go out for a walk; have dinner at apartment; successful attempt at sex (490); fall asleep. 

Scene 65 (491.10-501.11)
Amy’s apartment

Amy and Gibbs’s lovemaking interrupted by a call from Beaton; Gibbs phones Eigen; Amy and Gibbs go out shopping (where Gibbs imitates a halfwit); make love and fall asleep. 

Scene 66 (501.11-508.31)
Amy’s apartment

Gibbs phones ex-wife; Moncrieff phones Amy as Gibbs and she are making love (504); Amy decides to leave for Geneva to recover her son.

transition (508.32-509.12)
In front of Tripler’s, Gibbs avoids Beamish with Mrs. Schramm and Duncan.

Scene 67 (509.13-543.38)
Waldorf Hotel (50th and Park Avenue)
Beamish and Duncan visit J R’s new headquarters, where Davidoff now works (he confuses Duncan’s wallpaper firm with Duncan & Co. publishers), as does former textbook-salesman Skinner (who has recently married Gibbs’ ex), Dan diCephalis (whom Davidoff calls “Mr Ten-forty”), Miss Flesch, and Hyde. Davidoff in fine fettle, on deck stamping out brush fires. Frigicom introduced. 

Scene 68 (543.39-548.14)
En route uptown

Brisboy and Bast share a cab and discuss Wagner Funeral Homes.

Scene 69 (548.14-565.16)
96th Street apartment

Bast and Rhoda (after getting rid of Al) catch up on business, make love; Bast writes music, then gets call from J R (562-64); continues working through the night.

Scene 70 (565.17-580.21)
96th Street apartment

Gibbs arrives early next morning as Bast prepares to leave for funeral in Union Falls; Rhoda leaves shortly after; Gibbs works on his book between business calls; goes to sleep.

Scene 71 (580.22-610.10)
96th Street apartment

Gibbs wakes next day to a delivery of 100,000 plastic flowers; continues working on book amid disruptions. Rhoda, Al, and another member of the band Gravestone return while Gibbs is out; he returns, drives out Al and friend; Rhoda leaves for interview. Gibbs finds and reads Schramm’s notes. Rhoda returns (597). Gibbs compares his manuscript to invalid (603); night ends with Gibbs reading drunkenly aloud and Rhoda (high on cocaine) imagining a shipwreck.

Scene 72 (610.10-631.37)
96th Street apartment

Eigen arrives next morning, finds Rhoda in bathtub and Gibbs gone; Amy calls (612); Eigen makes pass at Rhoda, who soon leaves for Pecci’s publicity stunt. Eigen answers phone calls until Gibbs returns with Freddie (Amy’s older, retarded brother and Gibbs’s classmate); Gibbs learns he may have leukemia (622). Federal marshal arrives with process servers (627). Bast arrives, but Gibbs warns him to leave; Eigen leaves.

Scene 73 (631.37-635.36)
Outside 96th Street apartment

Bast runs into J R (there with his classmates on another school trip), then Brisboy, who buttonholes him for a frantic talk.

Scene 74 (635.37-653.2)
Manhattan to Massapequa

Bast and J R talk (during a limousine ride) of the Indian uprising; J R tells Bast he’s been fired (639); from Penn Station take train home, during which J R tells Bast how everything is falling apart; reads “profile” to a sleeping (and ailing) Bast; arrive in Massapequa. 

Scene 75 (653.3-663.37)

J R walks Bast home; ill, Bast pauses at the Marine Memorial, where J R plays tapes, including Bach’s 21st cantata, which Bast forces him to listen to; J R wants to continue talking business, but Bast outwalks him.

transition (663.37-664.2)
Windy Massapequa terrain. 

Scene 76 (664.3-669.37)

Coen picks up Bast, both looking for the Bast house (which has been moved), and drives him to hospital in Manhattan. 

Scene 77 (669.37-670.18)
Manhattan hospital, room 319
Bast admitted to same hospital Angel is in, and where Nurse Waddams (formerly of J R’s school) now works; Bast sleeps for several days. 

Scene 78 (670.19-674.25)

Bast, now awake (but still delirious), has Duncan for a roommate, who brings him up-to-date via newspapers. 

Scene 79 (674.26-687.22)

Coen visits Bast (while Duncan interrupts him); Bast writes a piece for solo cello while Coen talks; Duncan given an enema, after which he deteriorates rapidly. 

Scene 80 (687.23-688.29)

Bast feels better next day, but discovers Duncan died during the night. 

Scene 81 (688.29-712.44)
Hospital, room 311

Cates (in for a heart transplant), Beaton, and Zona Selk talk business while staff preps Cates for operation. Reader learns that diCephalis is lost in Teletravel transmission (engineered by Vogel), that Amy married Dick Cutler, that Ann diCephalis posed for the cover of the new magazine She, and that Crawley sold Bast’s film music for $60,000. Beaton lets the fourth dividend go undeclared to allow Amy to gain control of both Foundations; Beaton walks out as both Cates and Zona suffer attacks (the latter Beaton’s own doing). 

Scene 82 (712.45-719.15)
Hospital, room 319

Beaton throws up in men’s room; Bast offers to help, then meets with Coen in his room, who tells him his aunts have moved back to Indiana; Stella joins the conversation (714) and, when Coen steps out of the room, the cousins confront each other with the past. All three leave the hospital with Stella firmly in control.

Scene 83 (719.15-726.40)
96th Street apartment

Stella and Bast take a cab up to the apartment; she waits in cab as Bast finds Eigen retrieving his papers (now keeping company with Mrs. Schramm). Gibbs in back apartment reading Broch’s Sleepwalkers to Schepperman; Bast leaves to escort Freddie to Amy’s apartment. J R phones for Bast, and as Eigen leaves for Mrs. Schramm’s, talks through the dangling phone about his new plans for public life.

annotations with scene outline
scenes 1 - 10 | pp. 3 - 59    
 scenes 11 - 20 | pp. 59 - 149   
scenes 21 - 30 | pp. 149 - 194
scenes 31--40 | pp. 194 - 251
scenes 41--50 | pp. 251--352
scenes 51 - 60 | pp. 352 - 449
scenes 61 - 70 | pp. 449 - 580
scenes 71 - 83 | pp. 580 - 726
scene outline only