A Room with a View
by E.M. Forster
A Room with a View Part 1, Chapter 7 Summary
- Chaos breaks out. Everyone is apparently looking for everyone else. Mr. Beebe attempts to organize the party to leave. George is missing.
- The carriage driver muses to himself about the incapability of the English to understand their own instincts. He muses out loud that bad weather is coming, and that they should leave – George has told the driver that he’s walking home.
- Charlotte, in super-chaperone mode, is suspicious of the driver, who also witnessed the scandalous kiss.
- Phaeton was right – bad weather suddenly descends upon them, complete with rain, darkness, and lightning. The ladies scream, and Mr. Eager attempts to calm them.
- The weather makes everyone freak out. Mr. Emerson is worried that George will be killed in the storm, Mr. Beebe is “nearly demented” (as Charlotte melodramatically puts it), and Mr. Eager goes to translate for Mr. Beebe’s carriage driver.
- While he’s gone, Charlotte and Lucy have a quick conference. They’re worried about how much Mr. Eager, who’s been very suspicious, knows about Lucy and George. Charlotte attempts to be smooth and bribe the driver to keep mum (“Silenzio!”).
- While this whole ordeal is unfolding, lightning strikes a wire of the tramline ahead of them. The members of the party are all ridiculously relieved, since they might have been struck if they hadn’t stopped to argue. All of a sudden, the world seems good again. In the post-disaster period of catharsis, Lucy pours out her soul to Charlotte, admitting that perhaps she was a little to blame for the kiss, being swept away by the romance of the violets and the sunshine and all. She worries that George might be in danger on his long walk back to the city. The two cousins resolve to discuss the matter further that evening, once everyone’s safely back in the hotel.
- By the time they return to the Bertolini, everyone else is back to normal. An ordinary evening passes, in which Charlotte does a great imitation of an untroubled person, but Lucy can’t bring herself to do the same. She won’t even agree to play the piano – at this moment of struggle, even music seems trivial.
- Finally, it’s time for bed. Lucy and Charlotte meet to evaluate the day. Charlotte, who’s in her element in this crisis, wants to know what Lucy intends to do to keep George quiet. Though Lucy protests that George will never say anything, her cousin’s not so sure.
- Lucy decides that she will speak to George. Charlotte is not okay with this – not one bit. She argues, asking Lucy what the girl would have done if she had not arrived to break up the kiss. Lucy doesn’t know.
- Charlotte feebly wishes they had a “real” man on their side – the exemplar she cites is Freddy, Lucy’s brother, an idea that will become pretty ridiculous once you meet Freddy in the next chapter.
- It is decided (rather, Charlotte decided already) that they will leave Florence in the morning, and go to stay in Rome with the Vyses. Packing ensues.
- Lucy, rendered vulnerable by her exciting experiences, goes to Charlotte for comfort. Charlotte, in turn, knows how to use this to her advantage, and again puts on her martyr pose. She guilt-trips Lucy in to promising not to tell her mother about the kiss.
- Charlotte sends Lucy to her own room, just on the other side of a thin wall. Once Lucy gets there, it occurs to her that Charlotte has dominated the whole handling of the situation. She sees a bleak view of the world as joyless and limited, in which young people have to learn to play by the rules. She realizes that Charlotte has taken advantage of her vulnerability.
- As these realizations come to Lucy, George arrives at the hotel. She briefly entertains the notion of saying goodbye to him in the hall; Charlotte, however, gets there first, and has a brief discussion with him (that we don’t witness). We can just imagine what she says. George sighs and tromps off to his own room.
- Lucy, confused by all her thoughts, cries out that she wants to get older fast, and escape the “muddle” that is youth. Charlotte, always the one to have the last word, hears her through the wall and tells her to go to bed.
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