Study Guide

Howards End Chapter 22

By E.M. Forster

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Chapter 22

  • Margaret feels particularly loving towards Mr. Wilcox the next day. She sees that he's not connected to his own feelings, and is even ashamed of them, and she hopes to cure him of that.
  • Margaret's mantra is simple: "only connect" (hint: this is the most important catch-phrase of the novel…if you only remember one thing about Howards End, make it this!). She wants for people to be able to join the disparate parts of their own souls, and thus to be able to connect to other humans, as well.
  • However, there's something in Mr. Wilcox that resists this commandment; he just doesn't notice things about other people. He focuses instead on "concentrating" and getting things to work out his way, despite the feelings of others. For example, he doesn't notice that the other Schlegels don't like him.
  • Helen shows up, and they talk about a letter she's had from Leonard Bast, saying that he left the Porphyrion, following Mr. Wilcox's advice. In passing, Mr. Wilcox mentions offhandedly that the Porphyrion's not a bad business after all.
  • Margaret is mortified: what does he mean, not a bad business? Didn't he just tell them a few weeks ago that it was going to crash?
  • Mr. Wilcox goes about his business greeting Aunt Juley and Frieda, but Helen and Margaret are upset.
  • Margaret asks about the Porphyrion once she gets Mr. Wilcox off on his own – he tells her that the new bank he has a job at is a safe bet, and she feels better.
  • The conversation shifts to the matter of Howards End; the guy leasing it has to go abroad, and wants to sublet it. Mr. Wilcox isn't cool with this, and is worried that the house might be damaged. He suggests that he and Margaret go and take a look at the house, and also visit Charles and Dolly.
  • Margaret agrees, but can't cut short her visit with Aunt Juley. Mr. Wilcox high-handedly says that he'll take care of Aunt Juley.
  • Margaret does really want to see Howards End. She mentions the pigs' teeth in the wych elm that Mrs. Wilcox told her about – Mr. Wilcox dismisses this as a fairytale.
  • He goes off to talk to Aunt Juley, and Helen stops him en route to confront him about the Porphyrion.
  • Helen is angry: she can't believe that Mr. Wilcox warned them off the Porphyrion, but it's good after all. It turns out that Leonard's new job has a much lower salary, and, acting upon Mr. Wilcox's advice, he's gone down in the world.
  • Helen and Mr. Wilcox just don't understand each other; she doesn't get that business is a gamble, and he doesn't get why she's upset about Leonard.
  • Mr. Wilcox continues to offend Helen by telling her not to worry about the poor – there's nothing she can do directly to help them.
  • Helen is upset, not just by Mr. Wilcox himself, but by all that he represents. She's also clearly upset by her own position as an old maid. She flees Margaret and goes into the house.
  • Aunt Juley comes up, also upset, because Mr. Wilcox has broken the news that they're leaving early. Margaret feels a surge of love for her fiancé, and, even though she doesn't understand him fully, it doesn't bother her.

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