Blue Angel Summary & Study Guide

Francine Prose
This Study Guide consists of approximately 45 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Blue Angel.
This section contains 965 words
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Blue Angel Summary & Study Guide Description

Blue Angel Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Blue Angel by Francine Prose.

Francine Prose's novel "Blue Angel" features a 47-year-old English professor whose infidelity is orchestrated by one of his students. The story opens up innocently enough, with Professor Ted Swenson conducting classes at a small liberal arts college in Vermont. He is a creative writing professor and he has 9 students for the semester. One student, Angela Argo, a girl that would hardly have turned his head even in his younger years, manages to capture his attention with pages from her novel, "Eggs."

When Angela first asks to see Ted in his office to discuss her work, it is completely aboveboard and not out of the realm of propriety. Ted gives her good feedback and tells her that it is very, very good. He later has lunch with Magda, a colleague of his, who is shocked that he likes Angela's work as the work that Angela turned in for Magda was subpar and disturbed. Ted doesn't think that they are talking about the same girl.

And so begins the slippery slope effect. First he continues to read her work in the confines of his office, instead of in class as the rest of the students must do. Then, he takes the work home with him. He takes it to another blurred line when he starts calling her and leaving messages for her on voicemail. Each installment of Angela's novel becomes more graphic and more inappropriate in its content. Then, when he attends a faculty dinner meeting at the Dean's home, and after much alcohol, Ted reacts horribly and vocally to the stringent sexual harassment rules that the university has.

The reader learns that Ted loves his wife deeply, but that their relationship has become boring to him. His daughter, Ruby, has started college, herself, though not at Euston. She is upset with her father and mother for thwarting Ruby's attempts to date a notable ladies' man in town. Upset, Ruby had left to attend college where she wouldn't be under her parents' watchful eyes.

The fact that Ted doesn't really talk with his wife anymore is part of his problem as he continues to play with the fire that he sees in Angela's work, and in Angela. He wholeheartedly is ready to believe anything that she tells him, even that his book is her all time favorite. HIs ability for self-preservation is overcome by his desire to be near Angela.

For most of the book Ted doesn't act on his inclinations and thoughts. However, when Swenson agrees to take Angela off campus to a computer store to get her new computer, then comes back and carries it up to her dorm room for her, he's already crossed the line in his own mind. In a blink of an eye he is not smart enough to see what is happening and before he knows it, he and Angela are having sex.

After the encounter Ted notes with some consternation that Angela has locked the door when they entered, though Ted hadn't noticed at the time. This shows forethought on Angela's part, and should have been a warning bell to Ted. It is shortly afterward that Angela begs Ted to take her manuscript to his agent in New York. He tries to talk her out of it but she is insistent. To keep her happy he agrees to try. When he sees Len, his agent, his agent cuts to the chase quickly asking Ted if he's sleeping with Angela. Ted denies it, but Len warns him that this type of liaison is lethal to his reputation and career.

Ted goes home but in his haste leaves Angela's manuscript sample lying on the table. He tries to retrieve it but it is gone. On Monday he asks Angela to come to his office where he tells her that the agent wasn't interested in reading it. She accuses him of lying to her, that he never even gave it to the agent. He assures her that he did but that the agent had refused. Incensed, she tells him that she only let him have sex with her so that he would pass along her manuscript. Shocked and hurt, he sends her out of the office. Unbeknownst to him, she has taped the entire episode and takes the tape promptly to the dean, who the next day asks Ted to resign. Ted refuses stating that he is the victim in this case. The Dean doesn't believe him.

Knowing that it is going to hit the airwaves shortly, he takes his wife, Sherrie, out to eat and breaks the news to her. She does not seem surprised and even preempts his disclosure to her. She says that she has watched him for many years struggle to keep his pants on around the students, and that she figured that sooner or later he would just give in. She says that she hopes the school crucifies him. She tries to stay at their family's house to keep up appearances, but after two weeks she can't stand it.

There is a hearing at the school where a committee is convened to hear statements. A long list of witnesses parade forward to support Angela's claim of sexual misconduct while Ted has none to vouch for him. Angela's carefully laid trap has been plotted to perfection, and even the innocent meetings are now made to look obscene. In the end, Ted realizes that he should never have tried to fight the system in the first place, a system, he realizes, that never really wanted him in the first place. While this part of his life is over, including his career and his marriage, he feels as if he's gained some clarity and some self forgiveness for having abandoned his actual career as a novelist.

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This section contains 965 words
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