“What Every Boy Should Know,” in his All the Days and Nights

Maxwell, William

Vintage, 1995

pp. 67 - 83

“Shortly before his twelfth birthday Edward Gellert’s eyes were opened and he knew that he was naked.” Maxwell tells us obliquely that Edward has begun to masturbate and that the knowledge that he is doing so torments him. In church, p. 82: “Pure, self-centered, a moral outcast, he sat through church, in his blue serge Sunday suit, and heard the Reverend Harry Blair, who baptized him, say solemnly from the pulpit that he was conceived in sin. But afterward, at the church door, in the brilliant sunshine, he shook hands with Edward; he said he was happy to have Edward with them.”