This Boy’s Life

This Boy’s Life Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
One afternoon, Rosemary takes Jack down to the harbor to watch a mock naval battle and airshow. As they watch the show, two men approach Rosemary and begin talking to her; one offers Jack use of his binoculars so that he can see better. The men ask Rosemary if she wants to watch the show from one of their apartments; she insists she and Jack have to get home soon so that they can have lunch, but one of the men turns to Jack and asks him what he likes to eat. Jack answers that he likes hamburgers, and then man promises him a hamburger if he and his mother eat lunch with the two of them.
The situation at the airshow quickly becomes shady, as Rosemary shirks her responsibility to Jack in favor of flirting with two strange men.
Themes
Identity and Performance Theme Icon
Abuse Theme Icon
Back at the man’s house, his friend Judd makes Jack a baloney sandwich while the other man, Gil, and Rosemary watch the show from the window. As the men ask Jack questions about himself, like what he does for fun, it comes out that Jack doesn’t have a bike—Gil shames Rosemary for not buying her boy a bicycle, and promises to buy him one himself.
One of the men, Gil, shames Rosemary for not providing for her son, and promises to give Jack what it is he wants. Like Roy, Gil is using manipulation and gift-giving to worm his way into Rosemary and Jack’s lives.
Themes
Identity and Performance Theme Icon
Abuse Theme Icon
That evening, back at the boarding house, Rosemary gets ready for a date with Gil—he has invited her out. She gets all dolled up in a fancy outfit and asks Marian and Kathy to watch Jack while she’s out. Jack can’t fall asleep until his mother gets home—when she comes back to their room, she is crying softly, and Jack holds her wordlessly while she cries herself to sleep. The next morning, Jack doesn’t ask her any questions about her evening; the following night, though, unable to help himself, Jack asks when Gil is bringing him his bike. His mother does not answer him, and Jack does not ask again.
This passage uses what’s unseen to paint a portrait of what Jack and Rosemary’s lives have been like for many years. Jack, left at home while Rosemary goes out on a date, misses his mother and has trouble sleeping without her; Rosemary, meanwhile, encounters something frightening or saddening on her date with Gil and comes back in shambles.
Themes
Storytelling and Escapism Theme Icon
Identity and Performance Theme Icon
Abuse Theme Icon