|A Reader's Guide
to William Gaddis's The Recognitions
Pages 542-67; Saturday, 24 December 1949.
On Saturday morning Wyatt and Valentine meet at the Central Park Zoo. Wyatt is again distracted, trying to decide on an immediate course of action, and Valentine has a difficult time following his disjointed remarks. Wyatt has burned his forgeries and plans to expose them at Brown's Christmas Eve party. He lets Valentine believe the Stabat Mater was among those burned when he asks for it as a gift; in discussing the painting, though, Valentine realizes Wyatt's decision stems largely from a desire to do penance for his "sainted mother." Valentine mocks this motive, associating it (correctly, it seems) with Wyatt's newfound feelings for Esme.
Later that afternoon Agnes returns to her apartment to find Big Anna the Swede asleep under her sunlamp, badly burned. In her mail she finds the letter from the police concerning Dr. Weisgall's false arrest that will haunt her through the rest of the novel.
Elsewhere in the city others are shown preparing for Esther's Christmas Eve party. Stanley's mother commits suicide by jumping out her hospital window.
Mr. Pivner takes delivery of a Christmas gift (an expensive bathrobe) from Otto and returns to the hotel hoping to see him. (Unbeknown to either of them, they stand beside each other for a few minutes in the hotel restroom.) Mr. Pivner waits at the bar, flanked by Frank Sinisterra and Jean (who pays for her drink with one of his, now Otto's, counterfeit twenties).