Literature Study GuidesTo The LighthouseTime Passes Chapter 2 Summary

To the Lighthouse | Study Guide

Virginia Woolf

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To the Lighthouse | Time Passes, Chapter 2 | Summary



On a rainy night, darkness descends on the house through "keyholes and crevices." The only stir in the house is the "detached" wind. Exploring the house, it interacts with the falling wallpaper, the trash. It travels up the stairs to the servants' quarters and bedrooms, only to descend the stairs—moving rose petals, spreading sand. An "aimless gust of lamentation" slams the kitchen door. At midnight Augustus Carmichael blows out his candle.


The imagery—"the moon sunk, and a thin rain drumming on the roof"—creates a mood of almost ghostly upheaval, of things in the house not being as they should. Details show the same "shabby" house ("rusty hinges and swollen sea-moistened woodwork," "hanging" wallpaper), but the atmosphere is far different. Beginning with a "downpouring of immense darkness," "nothing" moves through the house, ending with a slammed kitchen door. The lyrical language and abstract images, a lamenting wind, reinforce the mood and evoke impending loss.

Augustus Carmichael extinguishing the candle, set in brackets, is the only action in the chapter and parallels the death of Mrs. Ramsay, which is noted in the next chapter.

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