51 pages 1 hour read

Zadie Smith

On Beauty

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2005

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Part 3

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 3: “On Beauty and Being Wrong”

Part 3, Chapter 1 Summary

The Belseys visit Howard’s old college friends, Rachel and Adam Miller, in England. Kiki receives a call that Carlene has died.

Carlene dies from a serious cancer she never told her family about. Monty finds a note from Carlene that leaves her painting of the goddess Erzulie to Kiki Belsey. Mike finds it impossible that Carlene would leave such a valuable painting to Kiki. Monty suggests that Carlene’s illness had affected her mind, and Mike proposes that Kiki manipulated Carlene into leaving her the painting. Monty burns the note and tells Mike to invite Kiki to the funeral.

Part 3, Chapter 2 Summary

The Belseys attend Carlene’s funeral. In attendance are a wide diversity of people, including Erskine. Kiki is embarrassed to see how eager Howard it is to speak with Erskine and the cultural commentator Zia Malmud so he can enter his intellectual world again instead of dealing with death. Levi is struck by how run-down the church and its neighborhood look, considering how wealthy the Kippses are. The funeral service begins with a choir singing Mozart, and Howard is surprised to find himself sobbing. He starts to think about the death of his own family and transcends his space. Levi tries to comfort him, and Howard emotionally leaves the church.

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By Zadie Smith