47 pages 1 hour read

Dinaw Mengestu

The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2007

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Chapters 4-6Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 4 Summary

Five months earlier, Sepha finds a letter in his mailbox from Naomi and Judith inviting him to dinner. While getting ready, Sepha puts on his father’s cuff links; although he never actually saw his father wear them, they are the only things he has left of him: “They were just cheap cuff links from an old, decaying regime, but you hold on to what you can and hope the meaning comes later” (50). Sepha dresses in his best clothes and goes next door for dinner. He is struck by the opulence of Judith’s home and concludes: “It was all so solid, comfortable, and familiar, as if Judith had deliberately picked only pieces of furniture that had proven their ability to withstand time” (52). Naomi, who normally hates having people over, is excited that Sepha is their guest. Judith, a professor of American history currently on sabbatical, claims she should have taught a class on “races” because Americans are always racing to get somewhere. At the end of the evening, Sepha and Judith exchange a “gentle press” that is not quite a kiss, and Sepha goes home to his humble apartment. Once there, Naomi tries to play a light game with him from her window across the yard.