September 6, 1958 This day one of the main characters of the novel, the architect Henry Femel, turns eighty years old. The anniversary is a good occasion to evaluate the life you have lived through. More than fifty years ago he appeared in this city, almost at the last moment submitted his project for the erection of the abbey of St. Anthony to the competition and – an unknown stranger – defeated the other contenders. From the very first steps in an unfamiliar city, Henry Fehmel is well aware of the future life: marriage to a girl from some noble family, many children – five, six, seven, – a lot of grandchildren, “five seven, six seven, seven seven”; he sees himself at the head of the family, sees birthdays, weddings, silver weddings, christenings, great-grandchild
Henry Femel’s wife is kept in the “sanatorium”, a privileged hospital for the mentally ill. Without accepting the existing reality, Johanna allows herself to be very bold statements about the powerful, and to keep her, she must be kept locked up. (Though Henry Femel, having ceased to dissemble before himself, confesses that he agrees and always agreed with the thoughts and statements of his wife, but did not have the courage to openly state this.)
Robert Femel still as a schoolboy swears not to accept the “participle of the buffalo” and does not betray her. In his youth, together with a group of peers, he enters into a fight against fascism (the personification of fascism is served by the teacher of physical education
Srella is a friend of Robert Femel’s youth. Like Robert, he was forced to leave Germany on pain of death and returned only now to see Robert and his nephews.
The sixth of September 1958 becomes a turning day for both Henry Femel and his son. On that day, realizing the falsity of following the logic of his own far-fetched image, he breaks with his long-bored habit of visiting the Croner café daily, refuses to accept a gift from the fascist Greek, the owner of the butcher’s shop, and symbolically brings the knife over the cake from the cafe as an abbey Saint Anthony.
Robert Femel on this day shows his former classmate, Netlinger, a devotee of the buffalo, that the past is not forgotten and not forgiven. On the same day he adopts the “lamb” Hugo, assumes responsibility for him.
And for Joseph Femel, the grandson of Henry and the son of Robert, the young architect, this day becomes decisive. Seeing his father’s notes on the ruins of the walls of the abbey of St. Anthony, a clear handwriting familiar to him since childhood, inexorably evidencing that the abbey was blown up by his father, Josef is in crisis and eventually refuses an honorable and advantageous order, from the management of the restoration work in the abbey.
Johanna Femel, who is released from the hospital on the occasion of a family holiday, also takes a decisive step – she shoots a long-prepared pistol in the minister, Mr. M. (who has a “snout like a buffalo”), shoots like a future killer of his grandson.
The results of the past life are summed up. And for those gathered in the workshop of the old architect (here, besides the owner, Robert with the newfound son of Hugo, Srell, Josef with the bride, Ruth and Leonora) a new day begins, on September 7.