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CHAPTER 37Returning to Charles' problems, we listen as he meets with Mr. Freeman to inform him ofhis changed prospects. While the latter is somewhat surprised at what he hears, this change does notalter Charles' marrying Ernestina, in Mr. Freeman's opinion. In addition, the two discuss a topic thatthey previously were reluctant to discuss — that is, the possibility of Charles' future employment inMr. Freeman's company. Charles, Mr. Freeman says, would be an executive of course, and weshould be aware that in this period there was a sharp distinction drawn between those who workedin trade for a living, even when they owned the company, and those who inherited their wealth.The interview is eventually concluded, evidently to the satisfaction of both parties, andCharles is led in to meet Mrs. Freeman. We see his discomfort with these people, which stemspartly from his background of old wealth and from his doubts, still largely unadmitted, about hismarriage to Ernestina. Charles later admits that he hoped Mr. Freeman would cancel the weddingwhen he told the gentleman of the probable loss of both his inheritance and his title. He is, ofcourse, feeling disappointed and trapped. Mr. Freeman still approves of the marriage. Charles alsofeels guilty because he should feel grateful for Mr. Freeman's generous offers of employment andfuture help for the couple, but he does not.CHAPTER 38Charles leaves the Freeman residence in London. The foggy evening outside provides an aptmetaphor for his depressed mood. He does not know why he attempted to impress upon his future
SCHOOL OF DISTANCE EDUCATIONMODERN ENGLISH LITERATUREPage 86father-in-law the gravity of his reduced circumstances, but it is apparent to the reader that Charlesvaguely hoped that Ernestina's parents would not allow her to marry him.For this reason, he is looking to external events to help him resolve the conflict between hisattraction to Sarah and his duty to Ernestina. He walks through London and, while doing so, heinadvertently passes by Mr. Freeman's large shop. The thought of actually working there gives hima feeling of nausea. He sincerely believes that his repugnance is based on his conviction as ascholar and as a scientist that life should mean more than merely acquiring money. But actuallysome of his animosity towards working in trade is based on his upbringing as a member of theupper classes; he can't help but feel that working is somehow beneath him and, he fears that he willlose his self-respect if he eventually accepts Mr. Freeman's values. He is in despair about his fate.He hails a cab in order to seek refuge at an institution that persists even today: his club.CHAPTER 39The tone of this chapter indicates that although Charles' marriage to Ernestina is still adefinite prospect, he is dismayed rather than reassured by this. There is a great deal of irony inFowles' handling of Charles' attitudes towards his dilemma. He is influenced and inhibited by what