Chapter 1 — letters from Tony to her mother re: married life, a letter to Tom from his father outlining the limp family business.
Chapter 2 — a mob passes by the Buddenbrook home, shouting and yelling. It’s 1848, a good year for revolution.
Chapter 3 — terrific chapter; Jean Buddenbrook leaves home to go to a city leaders meeting the night of the mob. He meets up with the other business bigwigs, and the mob comes and surrounds the council building. Jean waits them out and then gets them to disperse and quiet down.
There was a sudden surge in the tumult outside—the revolution had reached the windows of the assembly hall. The excited exchange of opinions inside stopped short. Hands folded over their stomachs and, mute with shock, they stared at one another or toward the windows, where they could see raised fists and hear boisterous hoots, inane and deafening yowls that filled the air. But then, quite unexpectedly, as if the rebels were suddenly appalled at their own behavior, it was as quiet outside as it was in the hall; and the deep hush that fell over everything was broken only by the sound of one word, spoken slowly and with cold intensity, emanating from somewhere in the bottom rows, where Lebrecht Kröger had taken his seat: “Rabble!”
Chapter 6 — Kesselmeyer the banker comes to collect his due money from Tony’s husband Herr Grunlich, who is of course horrible at business and has lost his dowry.
Chapter 7 — Jean arrives to see about Grunlich’s bankruptcy. He interrogates Tony in a great scene; he gets her to admit she doesn’t love her husband, and he sets about not assisting his son-in-law, so that he might go bust and a timely divorce be granted to Tony.
Tony began to weep again. Holding her batiste handkerchief to her eyes with both hands now, she managed to say amid her sobs, “Oh! How can you ask, Papa? I never loved him. I’ve always loathed him. Don’t you know that?”
Chapter 8 and 9 — the undoing of Grunlich. Once it’s clear Jean won’t help Grunlich, Grunlich admits marrying Tony for the dowry (he owed most of the money) and he flails like a dumb teenager in front of his wife; she is embarrassed and anxious to leave.
“And how did we manage that?” Herr Kesselmeyer continued. “How did we actually go about snapping up both the daughter and the eighty thousand marks? Oho! It can be arranged—even if one has no more than a pennyworth of industry and invention, it can be arranged. If Papa is to come to the rescue, one presents him with very pretty books—charming, tidy books with everything in tiptop order. Except, of course, that they don’t quite correspond to crude reality. Because in crude reality, three-quarters of that dowry is already promissory notes.”
Chapter 11 — the death of Jean Buddenbrook. The second-best chapter in Part 4. Mann uses a thunderstorm to kill the family patriarch. Frightening stuff, Lear-esque:
Then suddenly something happened—a soundless, terrifying something. It felt as if the humidity had doubled; in less than a second the atmospheric pressure rose rapidly, alarmingly, oppressing heart and brain and making breathing difficult. A swallow fluttered so low over the street that its wings seemed to brush the cobblestones. And this knot of pressure, this tension, this growing constriction of the body would have been unbearable if it had lasted a split second longer, if the shift, the release had not followed, a break that liberated them, an inaudible crack somewhere—though they all thought they had heard it. And at that same moment, the rain was falling in sheets, almost as if not a single drop had preceded it, and water gushed and foamed in the gutters, lapping up over the sidewalks.