Study Guide

A Room of One's Own Chapter 2

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Chapter 2

  • Back in London, Mary goes to the library to try to sort out all these pressing problems.
  • (Libraries, Shmoopers, were these archaic buildings full of books where people used to find information before Google. The one Mary goes to probably even has a card catalog.)
  • So, this is good: there are a ton of books about women.
  • But… they're all written by men. Not so good.
  • And what weird is that women tend to not write books about men.
  • We get a few examples of wildly contradictory statements about women by famous men like La Bruyère and Napoléon.
  • Overwhelmed, Mary doodles a picture of an imaginary person she calls "Professor von X."
  • He's the author of a book on the inferiority of women, and he's very ugly and very angry.
  • She realizes that the books she has consulted in the library are worthless because "they were written in the red light of emotion and not in the white light of truth" (2.12).
  • Translation: one woman did these guys wrong, and they decided that all women were fickle and untrustworthy.
  • Over lunch, Mary wonders why these men are angry. She thinks it might be that the men are just really focused on making themselves feel superior.
  • Time the pay the bill. Mary is lucky, because she has an inheritance from a dead aunt, also named Mary Beton.
  • It's pretty awesome—and weird—that she never has to worry about money because of this inheritance.
  • One especially nice thing is that she doesn't have to depend on a guy to provide for her. That means she's got free time to write and think about stuff.

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