Simple Summaries

In the Garden of the North American Martyrs

Tobias Wolff

Simple Summary by Sarah Frank

·      “Mary saw a brilliant and original man lose his job because he had expressed ideas that were offensive to the trustees of the college where they both taught.”

o  “She shared his views, but did not sign the protest v/ petition. She was, after all, on trial herself—as a teacher, as a woman, as an interpreter of history”

o  “she was making herself into something institutional, like a custom, or a mascot—part of the college's idea of itself.”

·      Mary had to get a hearing aid

·      College declares bankruptcy

·      “She applied for jobs and got an offer from a new experimental college in Oregon. It was her only offer so she took it.”

·      Mary feels old

·      Louise, a member of faculty of a famous college in upstate New York, offers her another job then later surprises Mary with the role of teaching a class the next day

o  “Just pick a subject then wing it”

o  Mary likes to work from a lecture plan

o  Louise says “Last year I wrote an article on the Marshall Plan that I got bored with and never published. You can read that.”

·      Mary can’t improv but feels uneasy about plagiarizing

·      Louise wakes her up to asks if she is “womanly”

·      Dr. Howells asks Mary if there is anything he should know

o  “"Yes. I think you should give me the job.' Mary laughed when she said this, but no one laughed back, or even looked at her. They all looked away. Mary understood then that they were not really considering her for the position. She had been brought here to satisfy a rule. She had no hope.”

·      Louise admits that they already knew who they were hiring

o  “I deserve some love and friendship but I don't get any” (reasoning?)

·      Mary still has to give the lecture because they paid for her travel

·      Mary decides to lecture about the Iroquois

·      Before turning off her hearing aid, Mary says “"Mend your lives," she said. "You have deceived yourselves in the pride of your hearts, and the strength of your arms. Though you soar aloft like the eagle, though your nest is set among the stars, thence I will bring you down, says the Lord. Turn from power to love. Be kind. Do justice. Walk humbly."”