Effective Reading in Exam Classes by Jeanette Corbett
lesson plan 5
Reading text used in the
lesson - excerpt from
'A Man In Full' Tom Wolfe p437-438
THE lights came up and Inky Blanchard bade the crowd farewell
and they headed away from the white tables and poppy cache-pots,
Martha remained in a daze. Twenty thousand dollars she
had poured into this evening - and for what? Herbert Longleaf
was suddenly at her side, all smiles and patter, as if
he had actually paid her some attention from the moment
they first arrived until now
.and within thirty seconds,
although he walked beside her, he had turned his head
to Joyce's Glenn Branwaist. Joyce was all smiles, too,
clearly ecstatic about being in the thick of such a fabulous
event. She had a strange piping laugh that went eye eye
eye eye eye eye eye eye as she listened to something rich
that Oskar von Eyrik was saying to Sonny Beamer.
One and all were heading for the front entrance, which
was far too cramped for a crowd this size. Scores of tuxedos
and party dresses were converging. A blur of fancy-dressed
humanity slowing down to a shuffle -
Suddenly right beside her - Charlie. Charlie and Serena
- so close there was no avoiding them.
They were as startled as she was. Charlie's huge chest
swelled up inside his white shirt, and for an instant
his big square face looked as helpless as it had that
fateful morning when she had surprised him with Serena.
Serena stood stock-still, her lips parted, her eyes wide,
motionless, as if holding her breath.
Martha knew exactly what was coming. It was as if she
could hear the synapses firing in Charlie's skull. He
had a look she had seen so often before. He broke into
a smile. Then, his eyes lit up. She didn't know what he
was going to say, but she already knew how to characterize
it: a real hambone performance.
"Heyyyyyyy, Martha!" he said in the heartiest
voice imaginable. "As I live and breathe! How you
doin', gal? I didn't know you were here!"
The How you doin', gal? was the worst of it. How you doin'
was pronounced in a certain tiny, intimate, mincing way
- "Heh yew dewin'?"- that was pure South Georgia.
And the gal was just short of obscene.
Martha stared at him, paralyzed, speechless. So Charlie
turned to Herbert Longleaf and gave him the sort of intense
Friendly Bear grin and thrust of the head that he used
to charm people he was meeting for the first time and
put out his hand, and Martha could see she had no choice
but to croak out:
"Charlie, this is Herbert Longleaf."
"Herbert?" said Charlie with the sort of pseudo-rapt
Southern manly stare she had seen him use so often during
their twenty-nine years of marriage. It was terribly tiresome
to see him use it yet once more, in this place, at this
time. "Charlie Croker, Herbert! It's real nice to
meet -you. I want you .to meet my wife, Serena."
He steered Serena - Serena and her tiny black dress with
the deep cleavage that was so fashionable among young
women this year - toward Herbert Longleaf. Martha instinctively
withdrew. She didn't want to have to force a smile onto
her face and say hello to Charlie's perfect boy with breasts.
To make matters worse, Herbert Longleaf, her supposed
escort, was charmed, immediately. A big submissive grin
came over his face, and he began blurting out pleasantries.
The next thing Martha knew, Glenn and Oskar von Eyrik
and Sonny Beamer began moving closer to the great man
as well. Immediately' mesmerized, the whole bunch of them!
The fabled tycoon - and his perfect boy with breasts!
No quick hello, so long, not for Mr. Herbert Longleaf.
Oh no. Now he and Charlie were deep in conversation, and
Serena, listening in, laughed sociably, and so did Glenn
and Oskar and Sonny Beamer. Their grins became more and
more worshipful, helpless, grateful, and ingratiating.
The great man stoops to converse with us! Oh, bless our-
lucky stars! They were paying more attention to Charlie
than they had paid to her the entire evening. Joyce was
loyal and stayed by her side, although who could say?
Maybe in her heart of hearts she wanted to meet the great
man and bask in the radiance of his manly grandeur like
the rest of them.
"So that's Charlie," said' Joyce.
Martha made no reply. Involuntarily she pulled back still
farther, until now the stream of people trying to get
to the door had made its way between her and the worshipful
knot of people around her ex-husband. Except for Joyce,
her eighteen thousand dollars' worth of -. guests were
no longer aware of her existence. She was afraid to say
anything to Joyce. She was afraid. she might start crying.
She turned her head. It was a pleasant-looking man, late
thirties, early forties, with a nearly lineless face and
thick sandy-colored hair He was in a crouch, as if hiding
from something. He also looked a bit drunk.
She had no idea who he was - but at the very least he
was that rare creature in this teeming place: a man who
actually remembered her name.
"Ray Peepgass, Martha! From PlannersBanc"
She still had no recollection of him, but she did remember
the many hours she spent in the company of people from
the bank while Charlie was romancing them for stupendous
He came forward, still in his crouch, and shook her hand.
"I saw you earlier but I couldn't get over to you
there was such a mob!" He kept smiling but also looking
this way and that. "This is so funny, because I was
thinking about you just yesterday and wondering how to
get in touch with you!"
"Yes! There's something I need to run by you! Could
I give you a ring?"
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