A Handful of Dust - Chapter One, Du Cote de Chez Beaver Summary & Analysis

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This section contains 406 words
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Mrs. Beaver speaks with her son, John Beaver one late morning. Mrs. Beaver is in the business of interior decorating and real estate. They once enjoyed luxury until Mrs. Beaver's husband died. John Beaver, known as Beaver, is twenty-five years old and has no job. He remains connected to the upper class through invitation. Beaver tells his mother that he is spending the weekend with Tony and Brenda Last.

Beaver remains at home and is hopeful that he is being invited out when he gets a call from a woman named Lady Tipping. He knows that she is having a lunch party and he thought he left a good impression on her. To his disappointment, she was calling to get the name of one of his associates, Jock Grant-Menzies, and to ask where she may find him.

Beaver decides to go to the Brat's Club where younger men could enjoy drinking and cards without the traditional older man stigma. Beaver sees Jock and they speak about Tony and Brenda Last before Jock tricks Beaver into paying for their drinks. With this, Beaver calls to his house to check his messages and finds that Lady Tipping has now invited him in Jock's place.

Money and class are the first trends introduced in the novel. The story opens with Mrs. Beaver telling the story of a fire on a property and declares, "luckily they had that old-fashioned . . . extinguisher that ruins everything". She is overjoyed that the home of the fire victim is ruined because it will lead to money for her. She has managed to hold on to her connection with the upper class and she works hard to keep it. Her son's story is clearly comparative. He works hard at spending little, organizing his days around other people's dollar. Jock Grant-Menzies jokes with his peers at the club, saying, "I made Beaver pay for a drink . . . he nearly died of it". The upper class appears to need him and despise him at the same time. It is not clear if Beaver is aware or even cares about the opinions that others have of him. However, it seems that he treats his lifestyle of invitations as a job. Overall, the Beavers are used to give the reader an idea of the atmosphere of the novel itself. The people are gossips who travel in the same circles and who hold class and status and appearances to a high account.

This section contains 406 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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