51 pages 1 hour read

Zadie Smith

On Beauty

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2005

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Part 1

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 1: “Kipps and Belsey”

Part 1, Chapter 1 Summary

The narrative begins with a series of emails between Jerome and his father, Howard Belsey. Jerome writes that he doesn’t expect his father to respond, but reports updates on his life anyway. Jerome works in Monty Kipps’s office with an English girl named Emily and three Americans. Along with Monty’s academic work, he has contracts for the Race Commission with churches in the Caribbean. Jerome also lives with the Kipps family. The Kipps family includes their son Michael, their daughter Victoria, and Monty’s wife Carlene. Carlene is helping Jerome learn prayer. Jerome encourages his father to get over his feud with Monty so that the two men can enjoy the benefits of each other’s company.

Jerome’s second email thanks his father for dissertation details. Jerome asks his father if his book is going well. Jerome is enjoying staying with the Kipps family but admits to missing the noise and dynamics of his own family. Jerome confirms that he still is “one”, citing his recent commitment to Christ, implying that at 20 years old, he is still a virgin and there’s nothing wrong with it.

A few days later, Jerome sends a third email to his father.