|A Reader's Guide
to William Gaddis's The Recognitions
Pages 343-89; Wednesday, 21 December 1949
Wyatt takes the damaged painting he showed Valentine earlier that morning to Brown's. Before Brown arrives, Fuller takes advantage of his employer's absence to air his views on evil, women, and faith - topics not unimportant to Wyatt.
Meanwhile Brown, still at the office, receives a mocking poem by Esme entitled "Effluvium," but his reading is interrupted by Otto who, having lost his play at the drag ball the night before, is hoping Brown might have one of the copies he sent him. Brown does not; he advises Otto to ignore the charges of plagiarism nagging him and sends him on his way, only to have his reading interrupted a second time by Basil Valentine, who hints that Wyatt plans to expose his forgeries.
Brown returns home (357.4 picks up where 349.9 left off), finds Wyatt drunk and in a quandary, and attempts to dissuade him from abandoning the lucrative forgery business. Leaving, Wyatt suppresses a sudden desire to kill him.
Wyatt then goes to Esther's to retrieve the forgery fragments stored there the night before. At this point Esther believes she is pregnant - it turns out later to be only a "hysterical" pregnancy - and Ellery is trying to find a doctor for an abortion. Ellery makes Wyatt a ludicrous job offer and asks to borrow Wyatt's copy of Foxe's Book of Martyrs for a Protestant version of his Lives of the Saints radio program. Wyatt leaves in disgust.
Wyatt arrives with the fragments at Valentine's (who has just furnished some details over the phone for a writer named Willie concerning the Clementine Recognitions). Drunk, distracted, and disturbed - Wyatt, by Valentine's earlier analogy with van der Goes, can be assumed to be having a serious psychotic breakdown at this point - he rambles on disjointedly and finally steals Valentine's golden bull from behind his back and heads for the train station, planning to return to his father in New England and resume his studies for the ministry. At the station he meets John for a third and final time, then boards the train home. His journey back is compared to the mythological path of the sun at night, traveling through subterranean passages to return to the east, to make a triumphal appearance at dawn as Baal, the sun god.
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