Portnoy's Complaint - Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

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Chapter 1 Summary

"The Most Unforgettable Character I've Met" The narrator (Alex) begins this chapter, and the book, with an outright statement of how obsessed he was with his mother when he was a child (see "Quotes", p. 3). Then, at eloquent, angry, ironic and detailed length, he contrasts his two parents. First he focuses on his perpetually constipated, ambitious, disappointed, disappointing, increasingly embittered father (see "Quotes", p. 8), and recalls an incident in which his father utterly failed at baseball as a particular example of his general failure as a parent and as a human being. He then refers to his superficially perfect, image-obsessed, subconsciously racist, socially competitive mother, with his opinion of her summed up in the narrative of how she steam-sterilized the dishes and cutlery used by their black maid while talking about how generous she (mother) was compared to other employers. He also comments on how she would...

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This section contains 573 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Portnoy's Complaint Study Guide
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