61 pages 2 hours read

Thomas Wolfe

Look Homeward, Angel

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1929

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Part 3, Chapters 38-40Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 3, Chapter 38 Summary

It has been two years since Ben’s death, and the war ended shortly after Eugene’s return to university. In the spring Eugene feels a revival of his spirit as he falls back into campus life. Eugene develops a rash on the back of his neck, a genetic trait from the Pentlands, his mother’s side of the family. Insecure about his rash, Eugene “let his hair grow in a great thick mat, partly to hide his sore, and partly because exposing it to the view of the barber touched him with shame and horror” (476). He also obsesses over his somewhat yellowing and decaying teeth, and constantly compares himself to others. Despite his physical imperfections, Eugene has attained a measure of confidence:

“there was in him a health that was greater than they could ever know—something fierce and cruelly wounded, but alive, that did not shrink away from the terrible sunken river of life; something desperate and merciless that looked steadily on the hidden and unspeakable passions that unify the tragic family of this earth” (479).

Eugene is content with the space to do what he enjoys, although he remains convinced that greater happiness awaits him elsewhere and he tires of the world around him.