Literature Study GuidesTo The LighthouseTime Passes Chapter 4 Summary

To the Lighthouse | Study Guide

Virginia Woolf

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To the Lighthouse | Time Passes, Chapter 4 | Summary



The "stray airs" seep into the house again, encountering the things "people have shed and left." There is rarely movement: a loose rock in the valley, a "fold of the shawl" falling loose and swinging. Mrs. McNab arrives to air and clean the house.


Remaining artifacts and groaning wood reflect the house's abandonment. The trees' shadows on the bedroom wall recall Mrs. Ramsay and her children watching birds fight over branches. The tree, a symbol of life, represents, with its shadows (a diminished image), Mrs. Ramsay's death and absence, a house no longer imbued with love and loveliness. Mrs. McNab is "directed" to conduct routine cleaning, showing the family managing the house from a distance. No one visits.

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