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A Room with a View

A Room with a View


by E.M. Forster

A Room with a View Part 1, Chapter 5 Summary

  • Charlotte is surprisingly un-shocked by Lucy’s misadventures with George, which Lucy dutifully reports (in a heavily censored version). She and Miss Lavish apparently had their own misadventures on their walk; they were stopped by some army officials, who searched their bags for any provisions. Miss Lavish, never afraid of anything, dealt with them.
  • Lucy still feels unsettled by her day, but can’t tell anyone. Mr. Beebe notices how shaken up she is, and assumes that it’s just Beethoven at work again. She’s alarmed by how alone she feels, with nobody to confirm or deny her thoughts for the first time ever.
  • The next morning, Mr. Beebe invites Lucy on a nice-sounding excursion with some American women and the Emersons; Lucy elects instead to go on a dull-sounding one with Charlotte to do some shopping. Charlotte stops to look at the river in the same place George and Lucy had stopped to have their awkward talk the previous night. Lucy is even more unsettled. She can’t quite sort out her feelings about the murder, much less about George.
  • Unfortunately, the two cousins walk through the very same square that the murder took place in. There, they discover Miss Lavish, who pounces on Lucy immediately, looking for details about the crime.
  • When asked, Lucy says she’d prefer not to rehash the murder. Miss Lavish feels guilty for prodding such a sensitive young creature. It turns out she’s looking for details for her novel, which will include a murder scene. Of course, the passionate young men in her book will quarrel over a passionate young woman, instead of a small sum of money. We don’t know about you, but personally, we’re even more convinced that Miss Lavish’s book will probably not be a very good one. Incidentally, the passionate young heroine’s name is Leonora, which is interestingly close to Miss Lavish’s own name, Eleanor. Coincidence, of course.
  • Charlotte and Lucy inquire politely about the novel, and we learn that its plot is typical of novels of its ilk: love, intrigue, violence, and of course, murder. Miss Lavish also reveals that she intends to rip the British tourist characters to shreds (hopefully not literally). Charlotte gleefully suggests that the novelist must be thinking of the Emersons.
  • Miss Lavish’s sympathies, she declares, are with the poor natives. The Italians, who she finds dreadfully neglected (by whose standards?) are her main focus. Charlotte is certain that this makes for a truly pathetic novel, a phrase she means positively. In other words, it’ll be a real tear-jerker.
  • The cousins leave Miss Lavish to her torrid imagination. Lucy is suspicious that Miss Lavish is checking her out for a potential character. Charlotte, however, is very trusting, and thinks that the lady novelist is just the bee’s knees.
  • Mr. Cuthbert Eager, the haughty pastor Mr. Emerson offended with his comments on Giotto, comes up to Lucy and Charlotte and invites them to accompany him on a drive in the countryside sometime. Charlotte is pleased – Mr. Eager is quite the local celebrity amongst the British tourist community. He’s the pastor of a residential “colony” (presumably of British expats) in Florence, made up of terribly cultured people who never have to carry around Baedeker. Charlotte accepts.
  • Lucy, who’s clearly been changed by her experience with George and the murder, is less excited than she would have been a day ago. When she finds out that Mr. Beebe is also coming, though, she perks up.
  • Mr. Eager brings up yesterday’s incident, and Charlotte, eager (ha!) to please the great man, mentions proudly that Lucy witnessed it. The pastor lugubriously implies that a few details on the murder wouldn’t hurt.
  • Lucy is in particularly observant form today. Not only did her radar pick up on Miss Lavish’s interest in her, it also picks up on Mr. Eager’s (like other people’s) grotesque interest in the gory details of the crime. She answers rather coyly, trying to avoid further discussion.
  • The pastor turns out to be equal to his name. He presses Lucy for more details; fortunately for her, a photograph vendor who’s been hanging around near them chooses this moment to show his wares to the adults. Lucy feels like he’s on her team – that is, on the team of Youth.
  • Mr. Eager, waving the vendor away, accidentally tears a photo, and the unhappy vendor follows them as they try to escape. By the time he leaves them, everyone’s forgotten about the murder discussion, and Lucy and Charlotte continue with their errands.
  • Lucy suddenly feels like she no longer trusts everything she’s told. She doubts Miss Lavish’s artistic skills and Mr. Eager’s spiritual capacities; towards Charlotte, she feels as she always does, like her cousin can simply be tolerated, but not loved.
  • Mr. Eager and Charlotte are discussing the Emersons and their questionable social class. Mr. Eager obviously is not a fan. He admits openly that he snubbed father and son in Santa Croce, and advises Lucy to do the same.
  • Lucy wants to know what has caused this animosity, but Mr. Eager refuses to divulge more. She actually rebels out loud for the first time (!) and talks back to him. The pastor is shocked that she would question him.
  • In response, Mr. Eager announces that Mr. Emerson murdered his wife – which, we can assume, he actually didn’t. Lucy questions the pastor again, but he refuses to justify his claim. Upset, he starts to leave. Charlotte confirms their plans for the outing to the country, Lucy gathers her powers of politeness, and the pastor leaves, mollified.
  • Speaking of the drive, we’re given a hint that more excitement is to come – Mr. Beebe has invited Miss Lavish, who doesn’t get along with Mr. Eager.
  • Lucy takes a moment to ponder the power of Florence to create adventure. Charlotte, oblivious to everything that’s happened to her cousin, babbles on about the drive with Mr. Eager.
  • Lucy has no patience for this; she reads some letters from home, and thinks about how pleasant her life there is, though a new note of discontent is present.
  • Someone named Mrs. Vyse and her son (more on them later) are going to Rome, according to a letter from Lucy’s mother. Lucy has a sudden urge to follow them there and leave Florence (and George Emerson) behind her. She and Charlotte laugh about how unpractical this plan is, but there was clearly some seriousness in Lucy’s suggestion, even if she doesn’t admit it.

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