A Handful of Dust - Study Guide Chapter Five, In Search of a City: Part Three Summary & Analysis

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Chapter Five, In Search of a City: Part Three Summary

Beaver asks Mrs. Beaver if she has a job for Brenda at her shop. They both are annoyed at what has become of the situation with Brenda. When she calls, Beaver speaks to her shortly, turning down an invitation to spend the evening at Veronica's. Brenda, unable to afford having lunch with Jenny and Polly, orders sandwiches and stays in bed, a practice she has started to become accustomed to.

Tony and Dr. Messinger travel by foot for days, averaging about fifteen miles every day. They rest and eat on evenings, barely speaking, only to return to the trek the following day. They follow the Indian group, completely unassisted by any map. After they wade through miles of a river Rosa calls Waurupang, they go without water for weeks. They reach the border of the Pie-Wie country and Messinger names their stop "Second Base Camp".

Beaver's conversation with his mother motivates her to encourage Beaver to take a vacation. Even he is unsure what he is taking a vacation from, but agrees.

Provisions dwindle quickly in Tony and Messinger's camp because the Macushi refuse to hunt in Pie-Wie forests. The next three days are spent finding the right trees for canoes to travel down the river where Messinger estimates the "City" must be. Messinger wants to take eight men with them and some of the food and trade provisions, leaving four men and the women at the camp until they return. Rosa won't acknowledge anything that is communicated to her. Rosa finally responds when approached the next day, saying, "Macushi peoples no go with Pie-Wie peoples". Messinger tries offering her a supply of cigarettes and he is convinced that they will come around by the next day.

The boats are completed by noon the next day but Rosa still insists that Tony and Messinger will travel alone. They bring out all of the trading pieces they bought in London and Rosa is interested in a few things but not enough for her to agree to continue the journey. As a last resort, Messinger takes out mechanical mice that he was saving to trade with the Pie-Wie's. It appears at first that the Indians are fascinated with the moving toy, but Tony soon realizes that they are horrified. The entire group of Indians run away from the camp, crying in terror.

Beaver and Brenda have breakfast at a place called Daisy's. Neither of them can really afford the meal; Brenda has no money at all. Beaver tells Brenda that he is taking a trip to America and the tickets have already been purchased. Brenda is clearly saddened by the news but Beaver shortly tells her to behave.

Tony's instinct proves correct again and the two men wake up to find that the Macushi came back to camp in the middle of the night and cleared out.

Chapter Five, In Search of a City: Part Three Analysis

This segment takes almost every character through a turn for the worst. The saga of Brenda and Tony's failed marriage is winding down and the only person who has emerged unscarred is Beaver. His complete lack of depth gave him the opportunity to take what he needed from every aspect of the affair and return what he had no use for. Mrs. Beaver, equally opportunistic, helps facilitates every calculated move that Beaver makes back up the social ladder. Rather than lose the social momentum that he has gained from Brenda by staying by her side at her lowest point, Beaver opts to wait out her downfall in another country.

Tony's life is quietly becoming a mess this time due to Dr. Messinger. The reservations of the doctor, expressed by other characters in previous segments, start to prove tangible. Dr. Messinger has no clue and no instinct for the chaos they have submerged themselves in. They have endured weeks of torture that could have been avoided if he let go of his superior air when he first met the Macushi people. As it turns out, the Macushi are more savvy and intelligent than the doctor ever gave them credit for. Tony has again blindly followed someone, trusting Messinger to keep things stable at the least. Now they are both stranded in an unknown country unprepared for what is before them.

This section contains 733 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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