Book summary part 1

How Many Miles to BabylonJennifer Johnston

Pg 1     Our narrator is an officer and is awaiting some punishment. The narrator believes that what will happen him will have a negative effect on his father but death might benefit his father. This suggests some problem within the family. We get the idea that there is no love lost between our narrator and Major Glendinning.

Pg 2     The narrators visit from the Padre shows us that he is not religious and is facing a death sentence.

Pg3      We move back to Alec’s childhood. We see that as a child Alec was isolated from society and home-schooled. The private schooling and piano lessons suggest that Alec is from an upper class background.

Pg 4     Through the piano teachers interactions with Mrs. Moore we see that she is a woman to be feared.

Pg5      The piano teacher remarks on Mrs. Moore’s beauty as he leaves. The description of the house again emphasises the idea that Alec is of an upper class upbringing, “mahogany table”, “Father was in the drawing-room”. Mr and Mrs Moore fight over the piano teacher, Mrs Moore wants him fired.

Pg 6     Alec’s father is shown to give the outward appearance of calm and his hand gestures are the only sign of his anger throughout the argument. Alec tells us how his mother is disinterested in his father’s emotions. Mrs. Moore wins the argument. Alec suggests that the family are not close and that the only reason his parents meet are because of “the child”.

Pg 7     Mr. Moore suggests that Alec might go to school but his mother refuses because she believes Alec to be delicate. Mrs Moore tells her husband that the doctor says Alec is delicate and Mr Moore suggests that she has manipulated him.

Pg 8     Mrs. Moore tells her husband that Alec will not go to school as she has no intention of remaining in the house with her husband alone. Mrs Moore wins the argument. Alec introduces us to a character called Jerry who works in the stable yard. Alec’s description suggests Jerry is lower class.

Pg 9     Alec describes a lake. One reference is important and that is when Alec suggests that once when with his mother a remark she made, made him feel some love for her.

Pg 10   Alec talks about sneaking away to swim in the lake. Alec goes to the lake, finds someone’s clothes and hides them. He gets into an argument with a boy over trespassing.

Pg11    Alec joins the boy for a swim. They climb out and Alec describes Jerry’s physical features. They begin to fight over Jerry’s hidden clothes.

Pg 12   Jerry wins the fight and they introduce themselves.

Pg 13   Jerry agrees to teach Alec to fight and Alec will teach Jerry to horse ride. Alec is excited at having a friend. Alec would also help Jerry with his homework.

Pg 14   Jerry plays the mouth organ. Some of the tunes are rebel tunes. The description of their horse riding styles and fighting continues to show the difference in their upbringing.

Pg 15   Jerry tells Alec that he will be leaving school in the summer to get a job. Alec is horrified that he would be leaving school so young.

Pg 16   Jerry tells Alec that his mother wants him to join the army so that she can receive two pay packages. Alec suggests a job in the stables but Jerry tells him they would have to stop being friends then. Jerry suggests the both sides of the divide would have a problem with their friendship.

Pg17    Alec and Jerry decide that when they are older they will become partners working with horses. Jerry does begin working for Alec’s father and they see each other less. Jerry begins smoking.

Pg 18   Jerry gets a pony and Alec describes its poor quality. The horse is called Queen Maeve and Alec remarks that it may have been stolen but Jerry refuses to say anything.

Pg 19   Alec and Jerry drink poteen. It is Alec’s first time drinking it.

Pg 20   After they finish the drink they go for a swim. They discuss building jumps for the horses.

Pg 21   They discuss their future working with horses and then we find out of an impending war.

Pg 22   Alec arrives home and his mother asks him to come for a walk.

Pg 23   Mrs Moore asks Alec about the amount of time he is spending with “that boy” from the village. Alec tries to avoid the question unsuccessfully.

Pg 24   After a prolonged silence Alec tries to sing but his mother tells him to stop because he is no good at it. Mrs Moore forbids Alec from seeing Jerry.

Pg 25   Mrs Moore tells Alec that she wishes to take him to Europe to further his education. Mrs Moore tells him it is all arranged. Alec suggests he might not want to go but his mother tells him he would be foolish to think of such an idea.

Pg 26   That evening they sit for dinner and everything is very formal. Alec suggests he is spoken to like a stranger when asked to sit down. Mr Moore tells Alec that he feels it would be a good idea if he saw a bit of the world. Mr Moore is not convincing in suggesting he had a say in the matter.

Pg 27   When asked his opinion on the matter by his father, Alec does not get a chance to answer as his mother answers for him. Alec’s father suggests that when he comes back from Europe he will begin to show him the family business and they will work together.

Pg 28   Alec’s suggests a war is impending and he is told he is being foolish. When his father begins to discuss it, Mrs Moore tells him how boring he is when he starts talking “nothing about nothing”.

Pg 29   Mrs Moore is angry that Alec heard about the war from Jerry and tells him never to see Jerry again. Mr Moore agrees that it is an unsuitable relationship. Mr Moore talks about the responsibilities and restrictions of class.

Pg 30   Alec hears his mother call his father “ineffective and old”. Mr Moore agrees and tells Alec to do as he is told.

Pg 31   Alec returns from Europe. Alec feels that his father has waned while he was away. They begin working together and Mr Moore buys Alec a horse called Morrigan. The horse is called after an Irish witch and Mrs Moore is horrified at the name.

Pg 32   Alec continues to learn the family business.

Pg 33   Mr Moore tells Alec that land is the most important asset.

Pg 34   Alec and Jerry meet at a point to point after Jerry has won a race. Alec remarks on the polite clapping from the people within the ring and the cheering from those outside it. Alec and Jerry discuss his new horse when Mrs Moore interrupts to take Alec away only glancing at Jerry. Mrs Moore says she believes Jerry is a criminal.

Pg 35   Alec remarks on his mother’s character and how he never met another woman who he could compare her to. We are told that war has broken out.

Pg 36   Mr Moore is angry at the war and Alec suggests he started to drink more after hearing of it.

Pg 37   Mr Moore enters the room to say that Christopher Boyle has been killed. Mr Moore calls them fools.

Pg 38   They discuss Mr Moore growing old and Mrs Moore tells him that when Alec goes to war he will not have him to rely on.

Pg 39   After dinner Mrs Moore suggests that Alec must go to war but Mr Moore refuses. Alec gets up to leave but is told to sit down as the argument continues.

Pg 40   The argument continues and Mr Moore gets up in anger. Mrs Moore calls him a fool and tells him to leave and go about his work. Alec remarks “I hated her”.

Pg 41   Alec joins his father in the drawing room and they discuss his mother. Mr Moore hopes Alec never has to experience the “humiliation” he has felt at the hands of Mrs Moore.

Pg 42   Mr Moore says that now he knows that his wife hates him. Mr Moore tells Alec that he will go to war because he is a coward. Mr Moore hopes that when he dies Alec will look after the land.

Pg 43   Mr Moore is beginning to get drunk and remarks on how it is pointless talking to his wife.

Pg 44   Alec leaves his father and goes to his mother. She comments on how they are becoming alike.

Pg 45   Alec says he is not going to war to be killed but his mother tells him he will not be killed because he is a coward.

Pg 46   Mrs Moore suggests she only stayed with her husband because of Alec. Mrs Moore suggests that Mr Moore is not Alec’s father. Alec is shocked and Mrs Moore says she is serious.

Pg 47   Mrs Moore tells Alec that his real father is dead. She says she tried to make her husband happy for a short time but it did not last.

Pg 48   Alec leaves the house heading for the lake.

Pg 49   Alec meets a drunken Jerry near the lake.

Pg 50   Alec joins him in drinking and Jerry tells Alec he is joining the army in the morning.

Pg 51   Jerry tells Alec he is joining the army for the money. Alec mentions Jerry being part of the “shinners” and Jerry tells him to shut up.

Pg 52   They watch a man pay the fiddle and people dancing. Alec tells Jerry he is joining the army in the morning also. Alec feels that he wants to die.

Pg 53   Alec tells Jerry what his mother told him and how he would like to leave in the morning without seeing his father. Jerry suggests it is a lie to get Alec to do what she wants.

Pg 54   They discuss the travelling man and the fact that both of them have never been with a girl. Jerry compares Mrs Moore to Helen of Troy.

Pg 55   As they drink they get up to dance.

Pg 56   Alec gets in a bit of trouble and Jerry gets him out of it.

Pg 57   They go to the lake drunk and Jerry jumps in.

Pg 58   They get naked and swim.

Pg 59   Alec gets out of the water.

Pg 60   Jerry is surprised Alec has not been with a girl and shows he has not had much interest. Jerry asks is it wrong that he looks at his sisters but Alec still shows he is disinterested.

Pg 61   Alec says a few lines from a poem.

Pg 62   They decide to meet in the morning on the train. Alec wonders if it would be possible to love a person as much as he loves his house.

Pg63     Alec wakes late the next morning and gets ready for breakfast. Alec wears formal clothing for breakfast.

Pg 64   Mrs Moore tells Alec she hopes he is not sulking. Alec just says that he is not hungry.

Pg 65   They discuss a woman called Maud.

Pg 66   Alec says he will be leaving that very day. The family are taken aback. Alec’s father continues to hide behind his paper but his hands are shaking. Mrs Moore scolds Alec for being thoughtless and wants to help him pack.

Pg 67   Mr Moore gets up to leave and tells Alec he will meet him in the study when he is ready. Mrs Moore tells Alec that she is proud of him. When Alec has finished packing he sits and thinks about his empty room. Mr Moore enters handing Alec cash and saying that he must leave as he has some work to do.

Pg 68   Mr Moore says that he just cannot stay. He tells Alec to never be short of money and insists he is nice when saying goodbye to his mother. Mr Moore says that he is no good at sentimentality and gives Alec a watch as a gesture. They discuss who will help Mr Moore.

Pg 69   Alec leaves his father in the room and goes to his mother. He describes her eyes as “triumphant blue”. Alec tells his mother that he does not believe what she said about his father. The household staff becomes visibly upset at Alec’s departure.

13 thoughts on “Book summary part 1

  1. “Book summary part 1 | How Many Miles to Babylon” was genuinely entertaining and
    useful! Within todays society that’s really difficult to deliver.
    With thanks, Kristina

  2. Pingback: link – Babylon | English OL - 6thyr

  3. so helpful! concise and to the point, page by page is great as i can just go directly to the page in my book if i need more information! 🙂 thanks!

  4. amazing and so helpful ,there are some great and excellent points and information.
    thank you very much for your efforts 🙂

  5. Thanks for this, I need to have read it for tomorrow and I don’t even have the book, do I need to know anything else important?? If you answer image next few houre I will check the replies later , thanks for people who reply 🙂

    • Alec and Alicia’s negative relationship is important. Have three examples of that. Same for Alec and Glendinning and Alec and Jerry. It all depends on the level your doing. If its higher try link the relationships above to cultural context and the other headings. Read through the comments section too as a lot of info has been given there too

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