Panama Summary
Eric Zencey

Everything you need to understand or teach Panama by Eric Zencey.

  • Panama Summary & Study Guide

Panama Summary

The overarching theme in Panama is change, or the tension between past and future, in a man's life and loves, and in the world around him. Concern about the future cannot be separated either from the boy-meets-girl theme or from the study of the evolution of architecture as a metaphoric structure for understanding change in the modern world.

In The Education of Henry Adams, Adams says, "Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit." Zencey likely intended to reflect Adams's view in depicting the tension between the chaos of the future and the order of habit. In Panama, Adams, mired in habit, feels "outpaced by a world that seemed no longer to need his kind." His observations prove that he is mystified by the trappings of the early industrial age. He observes a cobbler's shop with boots . . . dozens and dozens of boots on display in the window, enough...

(read more from the Short Guide)