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Howards End

Howards End

by E.M. Forster

Identity Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

So they played the game of Capping Families, a round of which is always played when love would unite two members of our race. But they played it with unusual vigour, stating in so many words that Schlegels were better than Wilcoxes, Wilcoxes better than Schlegels. They flung decency aside. The man was young, the woman deeply stirred; in both a vein of coarseness was latent. (3.32)

Family is a strong component of identity in this text; we see people classified by what their families represent. Ironically, we see that Wilcoxes and Schlegels are not so very different here, for both Charles and Aunt Juley give in to the same "vein of coarseness."

Quote #2

[Mrs. Wilcox] seemed to belong not to the young people and their motor, but to the house, and to the tree that overshadowed it. One knew that she worshipped the past, and that the instinctive wisdom the past can alone bestow had descended upon her--that wisdom to which we give the clumsy name of aristocracy. High born she might not be. But assuredly she cared about her ancestors, and let them help her. When she saw Charles angry, Paul frightened, and Mrs. Munt in tears, she heard her ancestors say, "Separate those human beings who will hurt each other most. The rest can wait." So she did not ask questions. (3.39)

Mrs. Wilcox has a kind of strange spiritual wholeness that none of the other characters possess; something about her connectedness with the land and with her English country roots gives her a kind of privileged instinctive knowledge.

Quote #3

Putting her head on one side, Margaret then remarked, "To me one of two things is very clear; either God does not know his own mind about England and Germany, or else these do not know the mind of God." A hateful little girl, but at thirteen she had grasped a dilemma that most people travel through life without perceiving. Her brain darted up and down; it grew pliant and strong. Her conclusion was, that any human being lies nearer to the unseen than any organization, and from this she never varied. (4.11)

Even as a child, Margaret has a kind of Mrs. Wilcox-like tendency to view people as individuals, rather than members of "organizations" like countries, and to imagine that we all have a unique understanding of spirituality that exists beyond the scope of what politics and history want us to think.

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