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Course Hero. (2017, October 25). Looking Backward Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved December 15, 2017, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Looking-Backward/

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Course Hero. "Looking Backward Study Guide." October 25, 2017. Accessed December 15, 2017. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Looking-Backward/.

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Course Hero, "Looking Backward Study Guide," October 25, 2017, accessed December 15, 2017, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Looking-Backward/.

Looking Backward | Chapter 16 | Summary

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Summary

The next morning Edith Leete speaks to Julian West as he comes downstairs. She jokes that she is there to stop him from leaving the house for a solitary ramble that might upset him again. He calls her an angel for saving his "reason" that day, and he looks at her with a "very worshipful" expression. She blushes at the compliment. When she tells him her ancestors lived in Boston, he suggests that he may have known them. He asks if she will tell him the names of some of them, and she says she might at some point.

Julian and Dr. Leete leave the house to visit the central warehouse. On the walk there, Julian asks Dr. Leete how he can enter into the society, neither being born into it nor emigrating. As he has "never earned a dollar" he worries his only contribution could be his strength, but Dr. Leete reassures him that he has the perfect job in mind. Julian will be perfectly suited to become a professor of 19th-century history. Julian likes the idea and feels relieved.

Analysis

As Julian West and Edith Leete grow emotionally closer, the author plants the suspicion that she is hiding something. Julian clearly admires Edith for her beauty and also for her compassion and tenderness toward him. He sees her as a savior of sorts. She is affected by his attention, blushing at his kind words and expression, suggesting she may have feelings for him. At the same time, she is evasive when he asks her for the names of her relatives from the Boston of his day. Readers have to wonder why she doesn't tell him right then. Her answer of "perhaps, some time" seems cagey, and readers may speculate she is hiding something from Julian and wonder why. This interchange creates suspense so that readers wonder if she will tell him, and when, who they are—and what will happen if she does.

The novel shifts from an explanation of the past and the present to a brief consideration of the future. Julian begins to think about what he will do in this new century, and he asks Dr. Leete about how he can be a part of the new society. Dr. Leete has clearly already considered Julian's future and lays it out very neatly: Julian's experience is his past. He will be a history professor, explaining the 19th century to 20th-century students.

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