Study Guide

Howards End Chapter 3

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Chapter 3

  • Aunt Juley (or rather, Mrs. Munt, as she's called for the most part in this chapter) thinks over her mission, and over her nieces' history as she travels.
  • We learn that the three Schlegel children lost their mother when Tibby was born, when the girls were both pretty young. They were raised by their German father, who died five years later. Margaret has been in charge of the family ever since, and handles everything, including their financial matters.
  • Helen and Margaret are both very independent women; they're friends with all kinds of interesting artistic types and foreigners, which rather alarms their aunt.
  • The train travels north through the countryside, and deposits Mrs. Munt at the village of Hilton, where Howards End is located.
  • In the station, an employee hooks Aunt Juley up with a certain Mr. Wilcox, who's on his way to Howards End. She asks if he's the older or younger Mr. Wilcox; when he replies the younger, she assumes that he's Paul (Helen's supposed lover).
  • The young man offers to drive her to Howards End, and she accepts. In the car, she goes against Margaret's command and brings up the engagement.
  • This is a BIG mistake, seeing as this isn't actually Paul, but is instead his older brother, Charles (who's still technically the "younger" Mr. Wilcox, compared to his father). He's confused – then enraged.
  • Charles goes into a fit, saying that the marriage is impossible. Mrs. Munt responds by being equally indignant. They fight the whole way back to Howards End, arguing about whose family is better than whose.
  • At the house, Helen rushes up to tell her aunt that it's all over (Margaret sent a telegram to make sure that Helen knew what was coming).
  • Paul comes out of the house, and Charles demands to know what's going on. Everyone is confused.
  • Mrs. Wilcox shows up and stops the fighting. The narrator offers a fascinating description of her: she somehow knows exactly what to do to put everyone out of their misery. She soothes Charles, telling everyone that the engagement is off.

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