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Persuasion | Chapter 9 (Volume 1, Chapter 9) | Summary

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Summary

Despite other plans, Captain Wentworth remains at Kellynch Hall, spending most of his time at Uppercross. Anne believes it is because of the positive female attention he has been receiving. Before Wentworth's appearance Charles Hayter and Henrietta Musgrove seemed romantically interested in each other. When Hayter returns from a short absence she has forgotten about him in in favor of Wentworth, who shows interest in both Musgrove sisters. Mary would like Wentworth's interest to be focused on Henrietta so as to avoid a match with her cousin Charles Hayter, whom Mary considers socially and financially inferior, although her husband disagrees. Even though it hurts Anne to see Wentworth with others, she believes he should decide which sister he prefers before he hurts either of them or ruins his reputation.

After Anne stays home from a formal dinner to care for little Charles, Wentworth appears the next morning asking for the sisters. Shortly after, Charles Hayter arrives. The men ignore each other while Anne is tethered to the room by Charles's suffering. Walter Musgrove troubles Anne as she helps his sick brother. After Anne and Charles vainly order Walter to leave her alone, Wentworth wordlessly rescues Anne from the toddler's grip. Henrietta and Louisa Musgrove arrive and Anne exits, discouraged by her conflicted feelings.

Analysis

Narrative details of Charles Hayter's background and the analysis of romantic triangles of bystanders highlight the motif of the pursuit of marriage and stress the theme of upward mobility. The introduction of Charles Hayter and his and Henrietta's previous arrangement also thickens the plot.

While Anne refrains from stating an opinion other than a generically moral sentiment about who should be with Wentworth, her silence signals her emotional distress. Withholding her opinion may be evidence of her deep regret over an act prompted by insecurity and immaturity—the central theme of the novel. Also, the echoing of the same social pressures she faced when involved with Wentworth may bring back memories and cause her present sorrow.

At the end of the chapter Walter's presence refocuses the scene to show an immediate conflict. The repetition of his name illustrates Anne's annoyance with him. When Wentworth silently untangles the child from her she is "speechless." Flustered by "most disordered feelings" she leaves the room as soon as possible, undoubtedly puzzling Wentworth as much as his actions have puzzled her.

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