51 pages 1 hour read

Zadie Smith

On Beauty

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2005

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Part 2

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 2: “The Anatomy Lesson”

Part 2, Chapter 1 Summary

Zora prepares for her sophomore year of college with an affectation of style. She wants to appear self-possessed and intellectual, but she is self-conscious about the idea that she hasn’t changed much since freshman year. Zora starts her new schedule with a workout at the swimming pool, a part of her self-improvement plan. Sometimes, her swim time is interrupted by the intimidating swim team. One day, she swims while the swim team practices and is attracted to a young Black man on the team. The young man mistakes Zora’s goggles for his, so she gets his attention to switch. The man recognizes Zora from the Mozart concert and reintroduces himself; it's Carl. Carl insists on walking out with Zora and says he’s not on the type to be on a swim team. A friend of his works the locker room and lets Carl into the pool for free. As Carl tries to engage Zora in conversation about Mozart, and she notices how people passing them by admire Carl’s good looks. Zora chats nervously with Carl. When she tells him he should stop by her house to meet Jerome, he coldly asks her about her white father, who turned him away.