Looking Backward | Study Guide

Edward Bellamy

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Course Hero. "Looking Backward Study Guide." Course Hero. 25 Oct. 2017. Web. 19 Nov. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Looking-Backward/>.

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Course Hero. (2017, October 25). Looking Backward Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved November 19, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Looking-Backward/

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Course Hero. "Looking Backward Study Guide." October 25, 2017. Accessed November 19, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Looking-Backward/.

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Course Hero, "Looking Backward Study Guide," October 25, 2017, accessed November 19, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Looking-Backward/.

Looking Backward | Chapter 8 | Summary

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Summary

Julian West awakens refreshed, thinking of the day he just spent with Edith Bartlett's family. He recalls a meeting he is to have with his house builder, but when he opens his eyes to look for his clock, he finds he is not in his bedroom. For a moment he loses touch with reality and doesn't know where he is. Then his new reality comes rushing back to him: his hosts and Boston in the year 2000. He is overwhelmed, and he worries he is losing his mind. He rushes downstairs and out the front door and walks unhappily and aimlessly around the city. A couple of hours later he finds himself back at the site of his old home and goes inside. Edith Leete hears his groan of misery, and comes to comfort him. He grabs her hands, offered in sympathy, and feels steadied. He believes God sent her. With tears in her eyes as he recounts his mental anguish, she says she can imagine how he must feel, and makes him promise to come to them if he ever feels so again. She believes he will eventually come to thank God for ending his time in those past days and bringing him to such an improved society.

Analysis

The idea that God acts to direct the lives of individuals was a common belief in the 19th century, and for some people, it remains today. Both Julian West and Edith Leete apparently hold this belief. Julian believes God has sent Edith to help him at the moment of his mental crisis, saving him from losing his mind. Edith believes Julian will come to appreciate his changed circumstances and be grateful God has rescued him from life in a miserable time so that he may enjoy a vastly improved period of history.

Edith's character is further developed in Chapter 8. She displays great empathy and compassion. Tears fill her eyes when she sees how upset Julian is, and she offers him both of her hands. Her empathetic nature is clear in that she is able to imagine how awful he must feel. She offers to do anything she can to help and makes him promise not to try to deal with his misery alone. She believes that God orders events and has shown Julian special favor by allowing him to experience what she believes is life in a much superior society.

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