61 pages 2 hours read

Thomas Wolfe

Look Homeward, Angel

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1929

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Part 3, Chapters 34-37Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 3, Chapter 34 Summary

Eugene stays at Altamont for two weeks before returning to Pulpit Hill and university life. Ben also returns home after receiving more rejections from the army and the navy. Thin and aged, Ben sulks as “his soft contemptuous laugh, touched with so hidden tenderness, had given way to a contained but savage madness” (431). Ben angrily mocks Eugene’s newfound pride in his independence and implores Eugene to escape from their family as soon as he can. Eliza overhears Ben’s tirade, and they argue over what Eliza perceives to be Ben’s utter lack of gratitude for her sacrifices. Ben unhappily declares, “I’ve had nothing out of life. I’ve been a failure” (434).

Eugene returns to university and, although only two weeks shy of his 18th birthday, is unable to register in the army early. He longs for the opportunity for glory, “for that subtle distinction, that air of having lived and suffered” (434). In the meantime, he works as the editor of the school newspaper. He turns 18, but before he can enlist, he receives a telegram imploring him to come home because Ben has fallen ill with pneumonia.