Seventeenth Summer

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First edition (publ. Dodd Mead)

Seventeenth Summer is a novel written by Maureen Daly and published in 1942. Daly was born in Ireland but grew up in Wisconsin. Before writing Seventeenth Summer she wrote a short story entitled "Sixteen". Daly began writing the novel when she was 17. After graduation from high school Daly attended Rosary College in River Forest, Illinois. She wrote all of her life as well as her three sisters. Maureen Daly died in 2006.

Plot summary[edit]

Seventeenth Summer is a book about a 17-year-old girl named Angeline "Angie" Morrow. It takes place in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Angie gets asked out on her first date by the local high school's basketball star, Jack Duluth, 18. They fall in love but soon the summer will end, for Angie has to go to college in Chicago, and Jack is going back to his home in Oklahoma to help his uncle with the bakery business. Jack falls in love with Angie, but Angie never says that she loves him back, so the question is, does she? The novel ends with Angie leaving for college and the two have a heartfelt goodbye.

Detailed Summary[edit]

June[edit]

Angie and Jack meet briefly in the local drugstore. Later, Jack asks Angie on their first date when he stops by their house to sell baked goods. They go out on a sailboat that evening along with Jack’s friend, Swede. The next night, they go to Pete’s, the local hangout where kids go to dance and meet their friends. There, they run into some of Jack’s friends, and Angie feels out-of-place and uncomfortable. However, a few days later they attend a dance together, where they have their first kiss. After that, they attend a party together, but then the relationship gets put on hold because Angie goes on a date with Tony Becker, a boy known for being fast with girls. Jack does not call Angie for a while and goes out with another girl instead, but they meet at the end of June and Angie explains that she did not know about Tony’s reputation. After that, the relationship gets back on course. While this is going on, Angie’s family is also introduced: her parents, Margaret, Lorraine, and Kitty. Margaret is engaged, and her fiancé, Art, is seen in this section. Lorraine meets Martin Keefe for a blind date. She has feelings for him, but he is unreliable and dishonest. Sometimes they go out frequently, and sometimes, she hears nothing from him. Once, Angie sees him out with another girl on a day when he told Lorraine he was busy. Angie does not mention this to Lorraine, however, and at the end of June, Lorraine and Martin are still dating.

July[edit]

On the Fourth of July, there is conflict because Lorraine wants to spend the day with Martin, but the family was planning on going on a picnic. After the parade, which Angie watches with Jack and Kitty and Lorraine watches with Martin, Lorraine goes out with Martin while the rest of the family tries to find a picnic spot. However, it is too hot and all of the picnic spots are taken, so they have their picnic at home. Jack comes after dinner and stays for the fireworks. Mrs. Morrow, who is generally critical of her daughters’ dates, seems to approve of Jack here. Later, while Jack’s family is out of town, he comes to Sunday dinner with Angie’s family. This does not go well, though. Lorraine embarrasses him by talking about books he hasn’t read, he gets flustered, and his table manners are not good enough for Angie’s family. Angie is annoyed with him for his behavior at dinner, but she remembers she likes him when they go swimming together a couple of days later. Their next major date is to a nightclub where they run into Lorraine and Martin. Lorraine and Martin don’t stay long, but Angie does not like the way Martin speaks to her sister. After they leave, Angie tries some beer, gets a little drunk, and decides afterward not to drink beer again. Lorraine and Martin’s relationship comes to an end when Martin asks her out on his birthday before going out of town for a few days. She waits for him to call when he is expected to return, but he never does. When his birthday comes and he still doesn’t call, Lorraine takes his initials out of the wallet she intended to give him, and that is the end of their relationship. Meanwhile, Jack and Angie grow closer, and the month ends with Jack telling Angie he loves her, but Angie is surprised and doesn't know how to react.

August[edit]

August begins with Mrs. Morrow getting sick and Angie having to take care of her for a couple of days. About the same time, she finds out that Jack’s family is moving to Oklahoma at the end of the summer. Most of that month is spent with Angie getting ready for college and Jack getting ready to move. They try to spend as much time as possible together, but the separation is looming. They go to the county fair with Fitz and Margie, a couple who had been going steady all summer. There, Angie is surprised to find that Margie is dissatisfied with her boyfriend but stays with him because she has to date somebody. The last big date is to a campfire farewell party with all of their friends. While there, Jack and Angie go off alone to collect firewood. Jack, unable to accept the coming separation, spontaneously proposes, but they both know that marriage isn’t the answer, and they do not get married. Before Angie goes away, Jack gives her his class ring. They say good-bye at the train station, and Angie goes away to school, not likely to meet Jack again or to forget that summer.[1]

Characters[edit]

Main Characters[edit]

  • Angeline "Angie" Morrow: Main character and narrator of the novel. She dates Jack and the book shows their young love. Her family is very proper and although she starts hanging out with a rougher crowd she remains proper and wholesome throughout the novel. While the book tells a lot about Jack's feelings for Angie, she rarely records herself expressing love to Jack. Is Angie leaving out details as a narrator or is she not the kind of girl that loves out loud?
  • Jack Duluth: The star of the high school basketball team and Angie's boyfriend.
  • Lorraine Morrow: Angie's sister who had been gone at her second year of college and is home for the summer. While she dates a lot in college she does not date very much when she comes back home.
  • Margaret Morrow: Angie's sister. She is the most popular of all the sisters. She is in with all the right people.
  • Martin Keefe: A guy that dates Lorraine over the summer. He is rude, always asking her out at the last minute and finally standing her up and disappearing.
  • Kitty Morrow: Angie's youngest sister. She is ten and likes to play.

Minor Characters[edit]

  • Mrs. Morrow: Angie's mother, a stay-at-home mother with a strong sense of propriety
  • Mr. Morrow: Angie's father, a travelling salesman who is not often home
  • Art: Margaret's fiance
  • Tony Becker: a boy with a reputation for being fast with girls. Angie goes out with him once.
  • Jane Rady: The girl Jack used to date off and on. She knows how to act with boys, and this sometimes makes Angie jealous.
  • Swede Vincent: Jack's friend who goes sailboating with him and Angie
  • Fitz: Jack's friend who often goes on double dates with him and Angie
  • Margie: One of the girls in Jack's group of friends who Angie becomes friends with. She and Fitz are dating steadily.
  • Dollie: A younger girl who Swede sometimes dates

Themes[edit]

The main theme of course is the love of Jack and Angie. The growth of the love is represented by the growth of plants in the novel. At the beginning of the summer Daly describes everything as lush and green. By the time Jack and Angie's last day comes around the frost is coming in to kill the tomatoes. The love has a distinct beginning at the start of summer and a distinct death at the end of summer.

There is also a theme of propriety in the novel. While Jack introduces Angie to a crowd that is inconsistent with the one she was raised in, she is still able to maintain her sense of propriety. She never turns into a Jane Rady. In contrast Lorraine does not keep her sense of propriety and because of this is embarrassed to be with her own family. First on the Fourth of July, then when she sees Angie and Jack out on a date, and finally when she leaves for school early.

Connected to propriety, there is also a preoccupation with appearances. Angie often worries about how a girl is supposed to act towards a boy and how people view her when she goes out without a date. When she starts dating Jack, she is pleased to be seen dating and being a part of the in crowd. There is even a group of boys, called the "checkers," who gather in the drugstore or on the street corner to keep an eye on who is dating whom. Angie considers people to be important if the checkers pay attention to them.

Literary significance and criticism[edit]

Some critics claim that "the modern period of young adult literature is often said to have begun with Seventeenth Summer".[2] Daly is a teen writing for teens and her work influenced other writers to write specifically with the young adult audience in mind. Dwight Burton claims that, because Daly was so near adolescence herself, "Seventeenth Summer captures better then [sic] any other novel, the spirit of adolescents."[3]

The adolescent work was controversial for its time; though it deals with a chaste relationship between Jack and Angie, it addresses the topic of sexuality and desire in a way that had not yet been addressed in a work of adolescent fiction. Also it shows underage drinking and smoking.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Daly, Maureen (1942). Seventeenth Summer. New York: Simon Pulse. 
  2. ^ Vogel, Nancy. "The Semi centennial of Seventeenth Summer: Some Questions and Answers." The ALAN Review 21 (Spring 1994): 41.
  3. ^ Burton, D H Dwight. The Novel for the Adolescent. The English Journal. 40.7. 363–369.