What are some of the main things we’ve learned from the story so far?
We know our protagonist, Lane Bailey, is a homosexual, one not entirely comfortable with his sexuality. That seems hardly surprising given the story takes place in 1973 when both social attitudes and legal norms in the United States took a far dimmer view of homosexuality than today.
We also know Lane’s attracted to one of his students, a Harvard junior named Paul Miller, and indeed has spent much of the year getting to know Paul better even though he’s assumed all along Paul is heterosexual.
Isn’t it funny how an attraction can be so much more powerful when it’s seemingly beyond one’s reach?
However that may be, a late night conversation between the two at Winthrop House has left Lane a bit less certain of Paul’s heterosexuality. Faced with his impending graduation and departure from Cambridge, Lane has been reflecting on his youth in an effort to figure out when he first became aware of his homosexuality and indeed why he’s the way he is.
He hasn’t made a lot of progress in answering those questions, but his efforts at self-reflection have stirred up some powerful youthful memories.
In last week’s chapter Lane recalled a memory involving an older youth, the same one he played Little League baseball with when he was ten. But this memory took place four years later when Lane was fourteen and struggling with all the changes brought on by adolescence.
He recalls an incident at a lake one day when he was feeling lonely and friendless. Then the older, more popular, youth he admired sat down on the hill next to him. The two spent the rest of the afternoon together, playing in the water and working on their tans, all of which succeeded in lifting Lane’s spirits.
Now, years later, Lane debates whether his admiration for Bruce was perhaps the earliest indication of his homosexuality. At first he thinks not, but then later is less certain what to make of the incident, especially knowing he tried to pull down Bruce’s swimsuit while they were playing in the lake.
In the end, frustrated at having accomplished so little, Lane headed back to Conant Hall. Along the way he became aware he was being followed by someone, a young man who turned out to be homosexual as well. After some hesitation on Lane’s part, he invited the young man back to his room, ostensibly so they could get to know one another better.
Once there, however, Lane is offered the chance to have sex with someone else for the first time in his life. He starts to undress, then stops. In the end, he decides not to pursue it and nothing happens. But that outcome seemingly only adds to Lane’s despair.
At that point the story fast forwarded to Lane’s graduation and then his trip back home to western Massachusetts. Quickly bored by the small town he grew up in, he ends up visiting the grave of his friend Billy where his father fills him in on what Bruce has been up to since Lane moved away.
In tonight’s chapter and the two that follow, Lane will discover much more about his youth. What effect that will have on him remains to be seen, but it will have a powerful impact on the direction of the story one way or another.
Since the lake and surrounding woods play such a prominent role in these chapters, our featured image tonight is of a place known locally as the Fish Pond. We strive for authenticity in all things 😀
By the way, the Fish Pond will also be featured in our next story if and when I ever get around to that.
I’m told the lake looks somewhat different in this picture than it did back when Lane was growing up. There’s no raft or diving tower, for example; no youthful crowds trying to cool off as there would be later in the season.
But, hey, there are limits to what you can find on the internet so it’ll have to do. It should be good enough to give you a sense of the place we’re talking about.
In any event, Chapter 7 is up. Have fun reading as we begin to pull the final threads of Part I of our story together.