Bart Pollock takes Frank out to lunch in the restaurant in the lobby of a hotel. Frank plans to tell April that it is the same hotel where he went with his father and Oat Fields. As he listens to Pollock praise his work, Frank anxiously thinks about how he will mock the experience to April. They drink martini after martini. Pollock explains that getting an old-fashioned company to adapt to selling computers is as difficult as getting two tired, old people to raise a newborn. Frank asks Pollock if he remembers a man named Otis Fields, then explains that his father worked as a salesman for Knox. Pollock says he remembers Earl Wheeler, but thinks that man must have been too old to be Frank’s father. Later, when he is sober, Frank is unsure if he confessed to Pollock that his father and mother were just like the couple from Pollock’s analogy—too old to raise a baby.
On the basis of the pamphlet that Frank wrote, Pollock believes that Frank has a real talent for selling the new technology of computers. Frank enjoys the special treatment Pollock is showing him, but he knows that April will look down on it. He also feels the presence of his father during the conversation. Frank thinks back on his old grievances against his parents: he thinks that they failed to invest energy in him because they were old and tired by the time of his birth. At the same time, he may have wondered if they didn’t invest in him because they saw him as unpromising, because he was clumsy with tools and lacked a strong, tough, masculine side as a boy. As he gets wined and dined and praised by a bigshot executive, Frank begins to feel for the first time that he is finally doing something that would have made his father proud.
Pollock is surprised that Bandy never mentioned that Frank is the son of a Knox employee, and Frank admits that he didn’t tell his interviewer about it. Pollock says he sees how it was: Frank didn’t want to get the job out of an unfair advantage as the son of an employee. He says that he bets that Frank told his father that giving his name had gotten him the job. Although this had not been Frank’s intention, it is true. Frank had meant to mock the job at Knox to his father, but when he finally brought April to meet his parents and told them about the coming baby and his new job, Frank had been so struck with emotion that he pretended that he had mentioned his father’s name, and said the people at Knox had spoken highly of Earl.
Bandy is picturing a very different dynamic between Frank and Earl than the one that existed. He imagines that Frank wanted to feel a proud self-sufficiency about getting the job at Knox, whereas Frank saw the job a joke. He also thinks that Frank had intentionally told his father that his name had helped him to get the job, when Frank had actually meant to act spitefully towards his father in doing this. But in an emotional outburst, Frank had in fact felt proud of securing work at Knox and led his father to believe mentioning his name had been a part of that achievement.
Pollock tells Frank that he wants to start a new division in the company focused on selling computers. He tells Frank that he pictures Frank travelling the country and explaining the computer to people at business seminars. Frank interrupts to tell Pollock that he plans on leaving the company in the fall, telling him that perhaps he should have mentioned this sooner. In his head, he hears April criticizing him for apologizing to Pollock, and he defends himself against this imagined accusation. Pollock says that if Frank changes his mind, this opportunity will be waiting for him, and that to continue working at Knox would be a fine tribute to Earl. Frank feels he could never tell April that this sentimental speech of Pollock’s almost made him weep.
Frank’s desire to rebel against his father has always led him to pretend he does not care about his work at Knox. For as long as Frank has known April, he has always taken this stance on corporate, conformist American culture, assuming the role of an independent thinker trapped in a boring world. But now that he is being offered a new, interesting career direction, he has to force himself to pretend not to be interested. It begins to seem possible that, deep down, Frank wanted the job at Knox because he wanted to be like his father and have a career that would make Earl proud.
For the next few nights, Frank has no opportunity to tell April about his meeting with Pollock, because she seems exhausted, tense, and withdrawn. Eventually, on the third or fourth night after his meeting, he asks her what is wrong. Full of unhappiness, April tells Frank that she is pregnant. Frank hugs her, hiding the fact that he is smiling in joy because this means they will not be able to go to Paris. He tells the miserable April that they will still be able to go, they will just need to adjust their plans. April says that it is her own fault for being careless, and now they won’t be able to go to Paris for three or four years. Finally, wiping her tears away, April says they should wait to talk until the kids are asleep.
Frank is scared about how April will react to the news that he has gotten an enticing job offer. He has not yet admitted to himself that he wants to pursue the job, but when he hears that April is pregnant he is overjoyed. Now, he feels, they will be able to stay in their current life, he will never have to live up to his pretensions to be an exceptional man and free-thinker by trying to “find himself,” and April will be focused on the responsibility of raising a new baby and unable to entertain more ideas of independence. Of course, none of this has to do with the new baby itself, who is sure to grow up in a tense and unhealthy household just as Michael and Jennifer have.
Frank goes to wash up for dinner, practicing in his head the speech he will make to April later. He plans to tell her about the offer from Pollock and how much more money he will be making. He will demonstrate to her that they will be able to have a much more fulfilling life once he has that money. If she asks him about how he will find himself, he will just say that that is his business. Looking in the mirror, he sees maturity and manliness in his face. He goes to the linen closet for a towel and sees a paper-wrapped package on the top shelf. Feeling afraid, Frank takes it down and discovers a newly bought rubber syringe inside the package. Without thinking, he storms into the kitchen and demands an explanation from April. She defiantly says that he cannot stop her from giving herself an abortion.
Frank is glad that April is pregnant because this will make it impractical for them to move to Paris. Instead of working in Paris while Frank finds himself, April will be expected to take care of the newborn. Frank never really wanted to move to Europe, both because he doubts that he is really cut out for the bohemian life he has always pretended to want and because he fears April gaining more independence from him. When Frank sees the rubber syringe, then, he feels that April is determined to gain this independence. The stakes are even higher for Frank with this pregnancy than they were during her first pregnancy, which she had also wanted to abort, because now more than Frank’s control over April is at stake. In this instance, Frank’s control over his own life is also on the line. Frank wants to stay put, continue working at Knox, and keep his current life, but he doesn’t want to admit this to April. The pregnancy will allow him stay while still continuing to pretend to want to leave—but an abortion will force him to make the move to Europe.