Study Guide

Mansfield Park Chapter 38

By Jane Austen

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Chapter 38

  • Fanny and William have a nice trip to Portsmouth.
  • We learn that William is sad that Fanny isn't marrying Henry, since Henry was so helpful and cool about getting him promoted within the navy.
  • We also learn that, lately, Fanny has been having to share the letters Mary sent her with Edmund, and that these letters really seemed addressed at Edmund anyway.
  • So Fanny's pretty glad she could escape the situation for a bit.
  • But she quickly starts missing Mansfield once she arrives at the Price house.
  • The house is in total chaos. Turns out William has to ship out far earlier than they thought and everyone's running around in a frenzy.
  • Fanny is quickly greeted and is ushered inside.
  • Mrs. Price makes a huge fuss over William and his brother Sam, who's also heading out to sea for the first time and needs to get all his stuff packed as well.
  • Everyone is busy talking about William's ship, and the house is noisy and messy and totally chaotic in general.
  • Rebecca the maid is nowhere to be found and the youngest kid, Betsey, is running around.
  • Fanny's sister Susan comes in and speaks very boldly, which shocks shy Fanny.
  • Fanny's dad then comes in talking about William's ship and ignores his daughter.
  • William finally gets their dad to notice Fanny, and he tells her she looks nice and must be wanting a husband right about now.
  • Fanny can smell alcohol on her dad.
  • Her younger brothers, Tom and Charles, burst in and start running around crazily with Sam.
  • We learn that Fanny has two other brothers who live elsewhere doing school/job training things.
  • Tea is finally served after a really long delay and no one seems overly excited that Fanny is back in town.
  • Fanny is shocked by how noisy and chaotic everything is and how tiny the house is.
  • She's sad that no one at the Price house cares at all about Mansfield Park.
  • The boys start running around and wrestling and their dad yells at them ineffectually.
  • Susan gets Fanny some tea and seems like the least crazy of the entire bunch.
  • William comes down in his uniform and Fanny is overwhelmed. He then heads out with his friend and leaves Fanny alone with the family.
  • The group finally calm down some and ask Fanny questions about Mansfield Park.
  • Mrs. Price complains about how awful her servants are.
  • Fanny then recalls a little sister she had before she left for Mansfield Park. Turns out, this little sister died a few years after she left.
  • Betsey then comes over and shows Fanny a knife she has. We're assuming this is some sort of butter knife and not, like, a butcher knife, since the girl is five and that would just be wrong.
  • Susan jumps up and says that the knife is hers and that their poor dead sister Mary left it to her on her deathbed. Why Mary loved her knife so much is anyone's guess.
  • The girls argue and Mrs. Price tells Susan to just relax.
  • Fanny is shocked some more and heads off to bed. But then she's shocked yet again by how small the room is and how noisy the house remains.

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