This website is an interactive academic
tool for CEA-UNH course:
Gay Paris:
Culture, Society, & Urban Sexual Identity

CEA GlobalCampus | Spring 2009
UNH Course Code: GEN230
Credits: 3 | Location: Paris, France

Friday, February 20, 2009

Chapter 4 Nightwood | The Squatter

The chapter begins with an introduction of a new character in the story: Jenny Petherbridge, a middle-aged villain, who is now one of Robin's lovers. Barnes devotes pages to describing this character - her faults and her general nauseating effect. Robin, Jenny and others are gathered together in Jenny's home. Jenny orders carriages to take her and her guests down the Champs Elysées and to the Bois de Boulogne (a common path of amusement at the time). Ridiculous Jenny's jealousy and obsession for Robin exhibit themselves as she tries to orchestrate the seating of her guests and her lover.

The chapter culminates with Jenny, in her rage, striking Robin again and again and then chasing after her as Robin escapes the carriage on rue du Cherche-Midi. And then we learn, "It was not long after this Nora and Robin separated; a little later Jenny and Robin sailed for America." (p. 69)

accouchée (p. 59): to be delivered (when giving birth).

La Dame aux Camélias (p. 61): a novel by Alexandre Dumas.

Commedia dell'Arte (p. 61): a form of improvisational theatre that began in Italy in the 16th century and held its popularity through the 18th century.

"Ecoute, mon gosse, va comme si trente-six diables étaient accrochés à tes fesses!" (p. 66): Listen, my lad, drive as if 36 devils were hanging from your buttocks.

"Fais le tour du Bois!" (p. 66): Do a tour of the the woods!


  1. I find Jenny to be an intersting yet odd character. The description that Barnes gives us of her, makes it seem as if she doesn't have her own life. Unless I'm reading this wrong, on pg. 60, Barnes wrote that, "Her walls, her cupboards, her bureaux, were teeming with second-hand dealings with life." It goes on to say that she's even wearing someone else's wedding ring on her hand. A few paragrahs later, Barnes talks about the extravagent gifts she sends actresses because, "She had a passion for the characters they portrayed." It seems as if Jenny only lives her life through other people. I was also confused when I was reading about her sex life on pg. 62. Does she want to have sex? Or is the case that no one wants to have sex with her? And then again, she compares her sex life to that of the past, almost as if it were another life she lived. To another life she used to live. And then I found the ending confusing as well. How is it that Jenny physically hurt Robin, even made her bleed, and they end up together? I found this ending very confusing and sort of out of the blue, because I wasn't expecting that at all. They seem like such different people.

  2. Excellent reading of Jenny. Let's discuss your questions tomorrow in class. Everyone else, come up with your own ideas.