Study Guide

Howards End Chapter 2

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Chapter 2

  • Upon reading her sister's last letter, Margaret is understandably freaked out, and expresses her concern to her Aunt Juley. After all, the sisters don't even know the Wilcoxes that well – they'd met them traveling in Germany, and were both invited to come visit the family. Margaret, as we already know, couldn't go because of Tibby's illness.
  • Margaret pauses to think and Aunt Juley takes over. She puts in her two cents about the encounter with the Wilcoxes in Germany (awkwardly insulting Germans, and by extension the Schlegels – she quickly covers it up by saying she thinks of them as English). She then pushes Meg gently about the Wilcoxes. Are they the right family for Helen? Do they care about the arts? Is marriage to Paul even possible?
  • Both women start talking, trying to figure out what should happen. Aunt Juley suggests that Margaret go to the Wilcoxes' house and work things out herself.
  • Then, Aunt Juley has another idea – why doesn't she go to see about this business herself instead of Margaret?
  • Margaret refuses, saying that she will go to Howards End (the house), and promises Aunt Juley that she won't offend anyone by asking too many questions.
  • Aunt Juley says that the engagement must be broken off – slowly. We're not sure what that means, exactly, and neither is Margaret. She tries to convince her niece once more that she should go instead.
  • Margaret thanks her aunt, then goes to check on Tibby, who's not at all well. Margaret feels obliged to stay with her brother, and changes her mind – Aunt Juley will go to Howards End after all, under strict instructions not to bring up the engagement to anyone but Helen.
  • Margaret and Aunt Juley set off for the train station at King's Cross, and Margaret ponders the sense of infinity and possibility that the station gives off. Aunt Juley departs, but when Margaret gets home, she discovers an urgent telegram from Helen, saying that everything is over with Paul – and that she shouldn't tell anyone anything. Well, it's too late for that.

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