A Room with a View | Study Guide

E.M. Forster

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A Room with a View | Part 2, Chapter 15 : The Disaster Within | Summary

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Summary

Sunday arrives in Part 2, Chapter 15, and Lucy Honeychurch, Charlotte Bartlett, Minnie Beebe, and Mrs. Honeychurch go to church. After services, Lucy and her mother stop to talk with the Emersons in their garden. Mr. Emerson laments that they have rented the villa out from under the Miss Alans, which he has just discovered. Charlotte and Minnie then arrive. Charlotte snubs the Emersons by getting into the carriage to wait for the others, giving only a formal bow in their direction. "It was the Pension Bertolini again," writes the narrator. "It was the old, old battle of the room with the view." George Emerson blushes, knowing that Charlotte remembers his transgression in Florence. Lucy is pleased; "his awkwardness went straight to her heart; men were not gods after all, but as human and as clumsy as girls." Lucy also realizes with certainty that George has not told his father of the kiss, "his father—to whom he tells all things." Lucy is overjoyed, thinking the secret is safe from Cecil Vyse.

George comes to play tennis that afternoon at Windy Corner with Lucy, Freddy, and Mr. Floyd. George plays to win, and he does. The narrator writes, "He wanted to live now, to win at tennis, to stand for all he was worth in the sun." Cecil declines to play, preferring to read aloud and mock passages from a romance novel set in Italy. Lucy discovers that the author is Miss Eleanor Lavish, much to her amusement. Her laughter fades quickly, though, when Cecil reads aloud a passage of two young lovers kissing in a field of violets. She turns away from Cecil so he can't see her face. Instead, she sees George's, just as Cecil begins to read: "There came from his lips no wordy protestation such as formal lovers use. No eloquence was his, nor did he suffer from the lack of it. He simply enfolded her in his manly arms." Internally flustered, Lucy calmly suggests they go in for tea. As they walk toward the house, George again kisses Lucy behind the concealing screen of a shrubbery.

Analysis

The different roles of men and women are highlighted again when only the women of the household go to church. Women are expected to exhibit proper behavior at all times, while men have more freedom to do as they please.

When Mr. Emerson brings up the matter of the villa and the Miss Alans, he must know it will make Lucy Honeychurch uncomfortable. Although no one says so, everyone knows it was Cecil Vyse's doing, and that it wasn't a very nice thing to do. This unspoken condemnation of Cecil seems to be shared by everyone at Summer Street. Lucy's family and friends, though, are generally too polite to say anything against Cecil outright. They respect Lucy's choice, even if they don't agree with it.

Charlotte Bartlett has not changed at all since Italy. In her mind, George Emerson is still "the enemy" and someone she does not wish to associate with. Rather than letting the past be the past, Charlotte continues her ridiculous pretense of cold, genteel manners. By refusing to greet the Emersons more civilly, she makes it clear that she stands on the side of old-fashioned propriety and the separation of the social classes. Charlotte's gesture has no effect on Lucy, though, who sees more and more of George's good qualities—especially in contrast to Cecil's bad ones. George is emotionally sensitive, as revealed by his blushing when Charlotte arrives. He is also discreet and loyal to Lucy; he has kept their kiss a secret. In this, he and Lucy are alike. George hasn't told his father, and Lucy hasn't told her mother. Their loyalty to each other is stronger than the parent–child bond—a mark of true love. On the surface, Lucy is happy Cecil will not discover the secret. But there is also a part of her that must understand George loves her, and it is from this knowledge that her joy really springs.

Once again, Cecil unwittingly aids George in his wooing of Lucy. As he reads aloud the passage of the kiss in the novel, feelings of love and attraction are stirred again in Lucy and George. Passionate George, who now "wants to live" and who is ready to risk everything for love, takes a chance again by kissing Lucy and showing her how he really feels.

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