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Looking Backward | Study Guide

Edward Bellamy

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Looking Backward | Chapter Summaries

See Chapter Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • May 30, 1887

    After dinner with the Bartletts, Julian West is mesmerized by Dr. Pillsbury.

    Chapter 2
  • Friday, September 9, 2000

    Julian West's chamber is unearthed during excavation on Dr. Leete's property.

    Chapter 3
  • Saturday morning

    Julian awakens, overhears voices, and finds himself in the year 2000.

    Chapter 3
  • The next day, Sunday

    Julian West meets Edith Leete.

    Chapter 4
  • Later on Sunday

    Dr. Leete explains the formation of the nation.

    Chapter 5
  • Monday morning

    Julian is overcome by his situation, but Edith Leete's empathy prevents him from losing his mind.

    Chapter 8
  • The following Friday

    Julian realizes Edith has a secret.

    Chapter 23
  • The next Sunday

    Julian listens to Mr. Barton's sermon via telephone with the Leetes.

    Chapter 26
  • Sunday afternoon

    Julian and Edith Leete declare their love for each other, and he learns her real identity.

    Chapter 27
  • Sunday evening

    Julian falls asleep only to wake up back in the 19th century in all its strife and misery.

    Chapter 28
  • Monday morning

    Julian awakens to find it was only a nightmare, and he is safe in the utopia of the year 2000.

    Chapter 28

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Preface The preface begins with the heading: "Historical Section Shawmut College, Boston, December 26, 2000." The unnamed narrat... Read More
Chapter 1 The novel's narrator, Julian West, says he was born in Boston in December of 1857. He acknowledges that readers will que... Read More
Chapter 2 As the chapter begins, Julian West recalls May 30, 1887, which was a holiday on which Union soldiers who had died in the... Read More
Chapter 3 When Julian West regains consciousness he is aware of three voices speaking nearby, those of a man and two women. The ma... Read More
Chapter 4 Julian West says he would not be surprised if the doctor told him a thousand years had passed, not just a hundred, so di... Read More
Chapter 5 After dinner, Julian West takes Dr. Leete up on his offer to stay up for a while to talk. He dreads being alone with his... Read More
Chapter 6 Julian West is shocked at what he calls "such an extension of the functions of government." Dr. Leete counters that prot... Read More
Chapter 7 Dr. Leete and Julian West continue their conversation about the national industrial system, and Julian asks the doctor h... Read More
Chapter 8 Julian West awakens refreshed, thinking of the day he just spent with Edith Bartlett's family. He recalls a meeting he i... Read More
Chapter 9 Mr. and Mrs. Leete are surprised to learn of Julian West's early morning walk. Julian asks them where the shops and bank... Read More
Chapter 10 As Edith Leete and Julian West walk to the store, she asks him to explain the system of shopping in his own day. They co... Read More
Chapter 11 The house is empty when Julian West and Edith Leete return from shopping. Edith asks Julian if he enjoys music, and he a... Read More
Chapter 12 Julian West and Dr. Leete sit up late again to talk about Julian's questions about motivations for workers when their wa... Read More
Chapter 13 Dr. Leete shows Julian West how to set the telephone in his room to awaken himself the next morning to music. Julian tak... Read More
Chapter 14 In this chapter, Dr. Leete, his wife, daughter, and Julian West walk to dinner, sheltered from a downpour by a "continuo... Read More
Chapter 15 In the library in the public dining building, Mrs. Leete remarks that Julian West is very fortunate to have the entire l... Read More
Chapter 16 The next morning Edith Leete speaks to Julian West as he comes downstairs. She jokes that she is there to stop him from ... Read More
Chapter 17 Dr. Leete and Julian West observe the central warehouse, which impresses Julian with its "prodigiously multiplied effici... Read More
Chapter 18 Julian West and Dr. Leete have an evening chat, and Julian wonders why men retire so early in the new social order. He a... Read More
Chapter 19 Julian West goes for a morning walk in Charlestown and notices the absence of the state prison that had once been there.... Read More
Chapter 20 Edith Leete asks Julian West if he wants to visit his bedchamber from the 19th century where he had been found. He says ... Read More
Chapter 21 Dr. Leete takes Julian West to see examples of the educational system. He explains that the value of universal education... Read More
Chapter 22 After dinner that evening, Julian West admits to Dr. Leete that he finds the new social order perfect in almost every wa... Read More
Chapter 23 Julian West and Edith Leete sit listening to music via telephone that evening. Between performances, Julian asks Edith i... Read More
Chapter 24 When Julian West gets up in the morning he goes to find Edith Leete, and in the course of his search he finds his way ba... Read More
Chapter 25 Julian West comments in this chapter that from their first meeting, he admired Edith Leete's "serene frankness and ingen... Read More
Chapter 26 Over breakfast the next morning, Julian West learns it is a Sunday morning, and Dr. Leete asks if he would like to hear ... Read More
Chapter 27 The sermon makes Julian West realize that the Leetes and others in the 20th century must view him as "a representative o... Read More
Chapter 28 This chapter provides another surprise: Julian West is awakened the next morning by Sawyer and finds himself back in his... Read More
Postscript Edward Bellamy responds as author to a review of the novel in the Boston Transcript, which criticized the novel for the ... Read More
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