Study Guide

The Mill on the Floss Book 1, Chapter 9

By George Eliot

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Book 1, Chapter 9

To Garrum Firs

  • The Tulliver kids, their mom, and Lucy go to visit the Pullets at their house, Garrum Firs. Before they leave, a hairdresser comes to fix Maggie’s wacky haircut. He tells Maggie that she looks awful and Maggie is mad.
  • Her mom then tells her to stop looking ugly. Apparently Maggie can alter how she looks through sheer force of will.
  • Lucy of course looks pretty and adorable, which makes Maggie madder. Let’s hope there are no wooden dolls or rabbits in the vicinity.
  • Maggie’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day continues when she accidentally messes up a house of cards that Tom was building. Tom thinks he’s on the Brady Bunch apparently.
  • Tom is mad and only pays attention to Lucy now.
  • The group finally head over to the Pullet house. The Pullets are worried about how the kids are going to mess up their furniture.
  • The females all go to look at Aunt Pullet’s new bonnet. Mrs. Pullet is depressed, which seems to be her default emotional setting.
  • She says that someone in the family will probably die and then she’ll have to wear her black mourning clothes and won’t have a chance to wear her new bonnet.
  • (Historical Context Lesson! Back in the day, people (women especially) had to wear all black "mourning" clothes when someone in their family died. The amount of time someone had to wear mourning clothes depended on who died – if a woman’s husband died she could be stuck wearing all black for a year.)
  • Meanwhile, Tom is stuck downstairs alone with Uncle Pullet. Uncle Pullet is awkward with kids and asks Tom lame questions like how he likes school. Tom is awkward and shy around his uncle and thinks that his uncle is pretty lame overall.
  • Uncle Pullet then asks Tom if he likes peppermints, and the ladies show back up to stop this conversation from further going downhill.
  • The kids all get some cakes to eat. But Maggie gets distracted by some art and drops her cake, making a mess. Aunt Pullet freaks out.
  • Lucy then goes to ask Uncle Pullet to show them his music box. Maggie adores music and instantly sits down in order to listen to it.
  • But she gets so excited by the music that she quickly gets back up and tackle-hugs Tom. This causes Tom to spill his drink and the adults all scold Maggie.
  • The adults send the kids outside.
  • Mrs. Pullet talks about the health of the family and predicts doom for everyone. She’s a bit of a free-for-all hypochondriac, someone convinced that they are always sick.
  • The adults then discuss the dispute between Mr. Tulliver and Mrs. Glegg.
  • Mrs. Pullet says that she’ll talk to Mrs. Glegg, but she predicts doom and gloom for everyone. She’s like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh.
  • Suddenly, the maid Sally bring in an object that causes the women to scream and Uncle Pullet to swallow his lozenge in shock. Cliffhanger!

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