Study Guide

The Mill on the Floss Book 1, Chapter 4

By George Eliot

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Book 1, Chapter 4

Tom Is Expected

  • Maggie is bummed out that she can’t go with her dad to pick up Tom from school.
  • Her mom is trying to fix her hair, but Maggie finds this annoying. So she runs off and dunks her head in some water, ruining her hairstyle.
  • Mrs. Tulliver is frustrated and scolds Maggie.
  • An angry Maggie runs off to the attic and proceeds to beat a wooden doll, known as her "Fetish." Maggie had driven nails into the dolls head before, but now she just whacks it against a wall and then "comforts" it once she feels better.
  • After sobbing and beating up her doll, Maggie calms down. She sees her dog Yap outside and goes to play with him.
  • Luke, the head miller, comes up and Maggie goes to the mill with him.
  • Maggie loves going to the mill and thinks the machines are really cool since they are so loud and powerful. We find out that the Tullivers own some sort of grain mill that produces flour and cornmeal.
  • Maggie enjoys sliding down the huge piles of grain and making a mess. That sounds like fun actually.
  • Luke and Maggie talk about books. Luke says he doesn’t really care for reading and Maggie says he should read to learn more about the world. Luke says that he doesn’t really care about the rest of the world. At least Luke is honest.
  • Maggie moves on to her other favorite subject: Tom. Maggie says that Tom hates reading and only likes things like guns and rabbits.
  • Luke observes that Tom will be bummed since his pet rabbits are dead.
  • Maggie freaks out – she was supposed to take care of the rabbits and forgot.
  • Luke assures Maggie that Tom will get over it, but Maggie is still worried.
  • So Luke takes Maggie to his house to say hi to his wife. Maggie gets distracted by some cool paintings. She likes the one of the Prodigal Son, from the Biblical story. The Prodigal Son basically runs off and leads a wild and crazy life, and then comes back home to beg his family for forgiveness and cash. So, he’s basically like your typical college student.
  • Maggie thinks this is a cool story, but she wonders what happened to the Son after he came back home. Was he grounded for life?

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