Literature Study GuidesTo The LighthouseTime Passes Chapter 8 Summary

To the Lighthouse | Study Guide

Virginia Woolf

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To the Lighthouse | Time Passes, Chapter 8 | Summary



Rumors circulate about the Ramsays selling the house. Not expecting them to return, Mrs. McNab picks flowers to bring home. The house and its contents are in disrepair—plaster falling, books moldy, locks broken, rats. She sees Mrs. Ramsay's gardening cloak and remembers her employer's graciousness and the cook, Mildred. Mrs. McNab decides it is "too much" for her to care for, so she locks up, leaving the house completely alone.


Mrs. McNab's observations and thoughts offer clarity. Because of the war, travel is hard, making it difficult to employ help to maintain the house. Mrs. McNab notices it has been left with the expectation of returning: "a brush and comb left on the dressing table" with its drawers "full of things." This observation reveals how death and war have disrupted normal life. With Mrs. McNab's departure, the house is completely deserted, with little or no hope for the future—like a town destroyed by war.

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