The next day, Frank and April tell Michael and Jennifer that they are not moving to Paris for now. The children don’t know how to take this news. Outside afterwards, Michael asks Jennifer to play, but she refuses. She wonders why her mother looked sad when she told her they would be staying, and why her father stayed home from work when he wasn’t sick. Jennifer goes and peeks inside and watches her parents talking.
Jennifer, the older of the two children, is intensely preoccupied with understanding her parents. She realizes that they hide their motivations from her and wonders whether they are happy or sad and what it means for herself and her life.
A few nights later, the Wheelers tell the Campbells that they are not moving. Milly and Shep say they are glad that Frank and April are staying, but Shep feels unsettled. Since the Wheelers announced their coming move, Shep had been picturing April ten years from now, looking old and unattractive. He had also been giving Milly extra attention. Now, he sees that April is going to stay in town and is still as attractive to him as ever.
Shep has been combatting his jealousy at the idea of Frank getting to spend time with the elegant April in sophisticated surroundings by imagining that April will age and lose her elegance once she starts working. Shep has also been trying to convince himself he feels romantically towards Milly—but the Wheelers’ new announcement derails his attempts to persuade himself.
Frank tells Jack Ordway that April is pregnant and they will not be moving to Paris. Ordway says the plan had always sounded a bit unrealistic. Then Frank goes to see Bart Pollock in his office. It is the hottest day of the year, and Frank is struck by how much less impressive Pollock looks sweating in his office than he had in the hotel restaurant. Pollock is glad to hear that Frank intends to stay at Knox, but he does not have a new job to offer him immediately. He tells Frank to continue working on the promotion pieces and that he will be in touch once the project shapes up.
Frank has gotten what he wanted, but now he is faced with some disappointing realities about staying at Knox. First, he is forced to hear that Ordway always thought that Frank was all talk and never really believed he had it in him to carry out the plan. Next, Pollock does not shower him with praise and express joy that he has decided to stay. Both of these reactions go against Frank’s understanding of himself as “exceptional.”
Helen can hardly process the news that the Wheelers will be staying. She is exhausted after spending a day at Greenacres talking to John’s psychiatrist. The doctor said that John’s trips out of the hospital should be stopped for five or six weeks because he has been agitated when he returns to the hospital. Helen had felt hopeless, knowing that six weeks from now the Wheelers would probably be gone. Then she had called April to cancel their upcoming visit and heard the news that the Wheelers would not be moving after all. She feels overjoyed.
Despite the disappointment of the Givingses’ second, difficult visit to the Wheelers, when John insisted on asking Frank to find him a lawyer, Helen still feels that contact with intelligent and interesting, but emotionally stable people like the Wheelers can exert a good influence on John. Of course, from the readers’ perspective the Wheelers don’t seem like good influences at all.
It is early August, and Frank wakes up one day with a sense of dread. He and April have not been talking much in the last week. She seems distant and reserved. The night before, Frank had asked her if she had any regrets, and April had simply said it would be too late for her to have any. That morning, as Frank thinks about his victory in convincing April to keep the baby, he realizes that the sense of dread comes from the fact that he is going to have another baby, and he is not sure he wants one.
Amazingly, Frank gave no thought to whether he actually wanted another baby when he was waging his campaign to convince April to keep the pregnancy. Frank wants to force April to bear his children without really wanting the children themselves. For him, the decision to keep or terminate her pregnancy represented a struggle between himself and his wife for control in their relationship—not a debate over whether or not to bring a new life into the world.
It has been several weeks since Frank’s conversation with Bart Pollock. Frank makes excuses to April for why he hasn’t heard yet what kind of raise he will get. He says he must finish the “Speaking-of” promotions before he can talk to Pollock about money, but April says she is not rushing him. Frank says that he will stay in the office late a few nights that week. He is having more difficulty producing the next Speaking-of piece. One night, he listens to his last revision in the Dictaphone and decides that he has produced something good enough. He is about to leave when he hears Maureen Grube’s heels clicking on the floor. He realizes that she has stayed late to see him, and decides that he will take her out.
When Frank had agreed to move to Paris, April showered him with the affirmation he craves. Now, however, April has retreated into herself. Although she has agreed to have the baby, she is not happy about it and will not pretend that she is. Once again, without April’s praise and admiration, Frank turns to Maureen Grube to make himself feel better. Unlike April, Maureen gives Frank affirmation and attention, partly because she wants affirmation and attention from him in order to reinforce her sense of herself as a sexy, sophisticated young woman.