Study Guide

The Mill on the Floss Book 6, Chapter 2

By George Eliot

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Book 6, Chapter 2

First Impressions

  • Lucy and Maggie are hanging out and chatting.
  • Maggie is in a good mood and is displaying her very sarcastic sense of humor.
  • The two are discussing Stephen Guest. Lucy says that she’s in no hurry to get married right now.
  • Lucy also mentions that Stephen’s sisters have been nice to her.
  • Lucy decides that Maggie needs a makeover and wants to spoil Maggie while she is visiting.
  • Maggie notes that she has gotten into the habit of being unhappy and wishes she were more like Lucy, who is cheerful and able to be happy for other people. Maggie confesses she is often jealous of happy people.
  • Lucy reassures Maggie and tells her to cheer up and stop being a Debbie Downer.
  • Lucy goes to put on some jewelry since Stephen is coming over, and Maggie starts to cry a little once she’s alone. Maggie is finding it hard to be home again in St. Ogg’s since she has lots of bad memories, and good ones too, in the place.
  • Lucy comes back and tells Maggie that they’re going to listen to tons of music, which is sure to cheer Maggie up.
  • Then Lucy mentions Philip Wakem and watches Maggie’s reaction. Maggie explains that she likes Philip and tries to tell Lucy about Tom forbidding her to see Philip – apparently there wasn’t an expiration date on Maggie’s promise to Tom to not see Philip again.
  • But, before she can get into all that, Stephen shows up.
  • Stephen is shocked when he meets Maggie, since he was expecting her to be blonde and dim-witted like her mom.
  • Lucy laughs at Stephen’s surprise and he mock scolds her for tricking him.
  • Maggie is not amused that Stephen had made negative assumptions about her before even meeting her.
  • Maggie decides that Stephen is conceited. Stephen decides that Maggie is trouble.
  • Stephen and Maggie then get into a verbal sparring match. They debate compliments and whether they are ever sincere or not. Maggie dislikes compliments since she feels they are often hollow and Stephen agrees to never compliment her.
  • Lucy is a bit alarmed at the two of them – she can’t tell if they like each other or not.
  • The conversation turns to an upcoming bazaar. A bazaar is a type of marketplace. In this context, it refers to a sort of fundraiser, rummage-sale thing. Lucy and Maggie are sewing things to sell at the bazaar, which will presumably raise money for something like a local church.
  • Stephen comments on Maggie’s rather plain sewing and Maggie explains to him and Lucy that she learned to make very basic items in order to sell them and make money.
  • Stephen is impressed by Maggie’s candor about her financial situation and her lack of embarrassment about it.
  • They then discuss Dr. Kenn, who is the new clergyman in town. Lucy talks about the charity work he does and Maggie finds it really impressive and admirable.
  • (Historical Context Lesson! Stephen gives us a brief rundown of religious politics in England. Dr. Kenn is an Anglican, which is the official religion of England. The Anglican church is the equivalent of the Episcopalian church in America. The dissenters Stephen mentions are other groups of Protestants, like Methodists, and Catholics. Basically, people can choose not to belong to the Anglican church even though it is technically the official religion.)
  • Stephen starts showing off how smart he is and tells the girls all about some books he is reading.
  • Maggie finds this interesting and Stephen is practically hypnotized by Maggie’s gaze.
  • Lucy doesn’t notice this.
  • The group then decide to go rowing up the river Floss.
  • Lucy and Stephen are alone for a minute and discuss having Philip over tomorrow. Stephen also assures Lucy that Maggie isn’t his "type."
  • The narrator tells us that love at first site is silly, but that Stephen and Maggie are definitely something at first site.
  • Stephen really wants Maggie to look at him some more.
  • The group have fun on the river and Maggie learns how to row.
  • When she’s getting out of the boat, she slips and Stephen catches her. They have a Moment, with a capital M.
  • The Pullets are at Lucy’s house when they get back.
  • Aunt Pullet is dismayed by Maggie’s wardrobe and the Pullets and Mrs. Tulliver start talking about Maggie’s appearance while she is still in the room. Awkward.
  • Lucy insists that Maggie is beautiful as she is, and Maggie laughs off everyone’s comments.

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