A Room with a View | Study Guide

E.M. Forster

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A Room with a View | Part 1, Chapter 2 : In Santa Croce with No Baedeker | Summary



As Part 1, Chapter 2 opens during breakfast the next morning, Lucy Honeychurch arranges to go out to see Florence with Miss Eleanor Lavish, the "clever lady" they had met at dinner the previous evening. Miss Lavish takes away Lucy's Baedeker guidebook so they can "simply drift" and find unexpected adventures. Their destination is the Santa Croce church, which Lucy particularly wants to see. As the ladies chat about common acquaintances in England, they lose track of where they're going and become lost in the maze of Florence's streets. After much wandering, they come to Santa Croce, where they spy the Emersons going into the church. Miss Lavish, wishing to avoid them, says, "Stop a minute; let those two people go on, or I shall have to speak to them." Lucy does as she asks. Unexpectedly, Miss Lavish dashes away after spotting an acquaintance she wants to speak with. Lucy is left alone, feeling jilted by her companion, and decides to go into the church unescorted.

Lucy encounters the Emersons once inside, and they offer to guide her. She feels uncomfortable, but they are the only people she knows there, so she accepts. Also in the church is Mr. Cuthbert Eager, an English clergyman who is giving a tour to a group of his followers. Mr. Emerson loudly interrupts Mr. Eager to offer his own unwanted opinion on the artwork. Mr. Eager huffs off with his group in tow. Alone with Lucy for a moment, Mr. Emerson earnestly tries to connect with her. He speaks of his son George Emerson, and asks Lucy to help him see the joy in life, rather than its sorrows. Charlotte then appears in the church, and Lucy hurries off to join her, glad for an excuse to be away from the Emersons.


Lucy Honeychurch's willingness to give up her book as Miss Eleanor Lavish bids shows that Lucy is used to doing as she is told. She does not yet think for herself or act in accordance with her own wishes. Miss Lavish does not give one thought about the impropriety of leaving the young girl alone. She abandons Lucy without hesitation in pursuit of her "local-colour box," a gossip-mongering informant. Lucy goes from being overly sheltered by Charlotte Bartlett to completely unprotected by Miss Lavish. She does not know what to do with this unexpected freedom, and is annoyed and worried rather than elated at the chance to explore on her own.

Awareness of social class again takes center stage. Miss Lavish wants to avoid the lowly Emersons, and even tender-hearted Lucy feels uncomfortable around them, worrying that her mother and Charlotte Bartlett would not approve. Mr. Emerson proves his uncouthness once again when he challenges Mr. Eager in the church. Mr. Emerson has no concern for status or position in society. Unlike the other guests at the pension, he believes in free exchange of ideas between people, no matter their station or social rank. Mr. Emerson tries to get Lucy to come out of her shell and befriend George Emerson, but he is perhaps too eager. His open display of emotion and forthrightness again goes against societal norm of people hiding their true thoughts and feelings. This touches on the theme of truth versus pretense. Mr. Emerson's truth makes Lucy—and almost everyone else—uncomfortable. Lucy knows she "shouldn't" be friends with the Emersons, so she takes the first opportunity to get away from them, even if it means joining her deadly dull cousin Charlotte.

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