Final Payments Summary
Mary Gordon

Everything you need to understand or teach Final Payments by Mary Gordon.

  • Final Payments Summary & Study Guide

Final Payments Summary

Isabel's quest for self-definition raises a number of disturbing questions throughout the novel. Central to the narrative is the attempt to define Christian love. When her mother died, Isabel became the intellectual project and confidant of her teacher-philosopher father, whose influence is both destructive and salvific. The novel opens on the day of his funeral. While her father had encouraged her intellectual independence and guided her aesthetic sensibility, he refused to acknowledge her sexuality. At the age of nineteen, she had a brief affair with her father's favorite student. Her father's horror at this discovery filled Isabel with shame and guilt. When he suffered a stroke shortly after this, Isabel sacrificed the next eleven years of her life to his care.

The Irish Catholic neighborhood and parish that have defined Isabel's life expect her to continue to serve in some approved subservient role — housekeeper to a priest...

(read more from the Short Guide)

Study Pack

The Final Payments Study Pack contains:

Final Payments Short Guide