The Good Soldier | Study Guide

Ford Madox Ford

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The Good Soldier | Part 3, Chapter 5 | Summary



John Dowell talks next about Edward Ashburnham's time in Burma. After Edward's dalliance with La Dolciquita, Leonora Ashburnham had to take their finances into her own hands. She paid off his debts, put up the English manor for rent, and had Edward transferred to Burma. While stationed there, Edward began an affair with Mrs. Basil, who was "very, very kind to him." Major Basil found out about the affair and began blackmailing Edward. After the Basils moved, Edward started up with Maisie Maidan. He asked Leonora if they could take Maisie Maidan with them to Nauheim, and she told him it had already been arranged. Leonora tells Edward to resign as a soldier, and they can return to their manor home with as much money as they had before his affair with La Dolciquita. This is Leonora's "great achievement." Edward tells her she is "the finest woman in the world." Leonora has made her peace with Edward's amusing himself with other women, and she thought if she indulged his "vanities" she "could arouse his love." While John states, "Edward and Leonora had noble natures," he also says outrageous things about them, including "it would have done [Edward] a great deal of good to get killed."


At this point John has finished a more or less linear account of Edward's affairs before Florence. With this history, he attempts to show "there is not even any villain in the story" but that everyone was just doing the best they could with the hand they were dealt. As he previously mentioned, Leonora and Edward are not financially compatible. Edward wants to spend it and be generous with it, while Leonora wants to scrimp and save. But Leonora finally realizes that the way to Edward's heart is not by micromanaging him but by letting him be what he perceives as gallant and generous. John even insinuates that the two might have found their way back to each other if it had not been for Florence. Finally, John continues to give mixed messages about his feelings toward Edward, showing how much the tension between illusion and reality is conflicting John.

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