Study Guide

Howards End Chapter 38

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Chapter 38

  • Margaret returns to Charles and Dolly's house, and settles into a discussion with Henry about Helen. He tries immediately to take control, and treat her like an ignorant, submissive wife – but she'll have none of that.
  • Margaret tries to jump straight in with her request about Howards End, but Henry's not done. He wants to know who Helen's "seducer" is, and Margaret doesn't know – she didn't even ask.
  • Henry has tried to rally all of the menfolk; he called Charles to tell him about the situation, and Charles, in turn, is paying Tibby a visit. They intend to make Helen's lover marry her, or to otherwise punish him.
  • Margaret gets to the point. She tells Henry that Helen's going to Munich tomorrow, but would like to sleep at Howards End that night. This is a more difficult question for him than it seems like it should be – he doesn't understand the impulse.
  • Margaret tries to explain that Helen wants to be among their things, as a kind of end to her youth and innocence.
  • Henry jumps to a negative conclusion – if Helen stays there one night, maybe she'll never leave.
  • This offends Margaret, who's upset about the implication. Would it be so bad if Helen stayed?
  • Margaret reveals that she wants to stay in Howards End with Helen, which upsets Henry even more. The two of them find themselves at an impasse.
  • Margaret is at the end of her rope. She demands that Henry answer her plainly, and restates all of the facts – can't he forgive Helen for having a lover, since Margaret has forgiven him for Jacky? Can't they just spend one night in Howards End?
  • Henry refuses, saying that he has to be respectful to his children and the first Mrs. Wilcox – Helen can't stay.
  • Margaret, desperate, mentions Jacky again, then comes right out and accuses Mr. Wilcox of all of his crimes – cheating on his first wife, casting Jacky off (to ruin Leonard, in turn), not being responsible for Leonard's job. She tells him that he's done just the same thing that Helen's done (and more), but he just can't face up to it.
  • Henry gathers his senses and flatly refuses once more, accusing Margaret of trying to blackmail him. He returns to the house; Margaret stays outside, fuming.

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