A Room with a View | Study Guide

E.M. Forster

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A Room with a View | Part 2, Chapter 13 : How Miss Bartlett's Boiler Was So Tiresome | Summary



Part 2, Chapter 13 begins as Lucy Honeychurch, Cecil Vyse, and Mrs. Honeychurch continue on their way to visit Mrs. Butterworth in "another of those dreadful engagement calls." Not wanting to go in the first place, Cecil is rude to the hostess. Lucy smooths over the conversation "in a way that promised well for their married peace." She reflects, "No one is perfect, and surely it is wiser to discover the imperfections before wedlock." Mrs. Honeychurch expresses her displeasure with Cecil's behavior to Lucy after the visit. Lucy makes excuses for him, saying that Mrs. Butterworth is "tiresome" and doesn't live up to Cecil's high ideals for people. Mrs. Honeychurch replies, "Oh, rubbish! If high ideals make a young man rude, the sooner he gets rid of them the better." She further calls Cecil out for his rudeness toward herself and Freddy, and even his scorn for the furniture in their house. Lucy is silenced and can offer no defense.

Freddy Honeychurch appears and proposes a visit by the Emersons to play tennis the following week. Lucy tries to dissuade him, but he ignores her pleas. Freddy brings up George Emerson again at dinner, wanting to know what kind of person he is. Lucy answers as vaguely as possible, "wondering whether she would get through the meal without a lie." Mrs. Honeychurch then suggests that they invite Charlotte Bartlett to visit the following week while plumbers fix her broken boiler. Lucy pleads with her mother not to invite Charlotte, and Cecil concurs. Mrs. Honeychurch calls them unkind for it. Even Freddy defends Charlotte as kind and well meaning. For Lucy, thinking of Charlotte brings up the ghosts of Florence once again: "For a moment the visible world faded away, and memories and emotions alone seemed real."


Cecil Vyse clearly does not fit in with the society of Windy Corner, and Lucy Honeychurch is running out of excuses for his behavior. She rationalizes that nobody is perfect because she wants to see Cecil in the best light. Still, she cannot gloss over Cecil's dislike of the people she cares about. Her mother's displeasure with Cecil upsets Lucy greatly. She knows deep down that Mrs. Honeychurch is right, but Lucy can't admit that her fiancé is simply a jerk.

The topic of George Emerson comes up more and more frequently, making Lucy incredibly uncomfortable. She doesn't want to lie to Cecil or her family, but she doesn't want them to know the truth, either. She would rather not have either George or Charlotte Bartlett visit, because they are both in on the secret of George and Lucy's kiss. On the surface, Lucy fears that the truth will come out and ruin her relationship with Cecil. Lucy's true fear, though, is that she has chosen poorly in Cecil, and that perhaps she actually does love George. Giving in to such a love would violate social boundaries that she has never crossed before, and would take more courage than she has had to show yet in life. It is clear, though, that the "memories and emotions" surrounding George are still vivid in her heart and mind.

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