Study Guide

Sense and Sensibility Chapter 24

By Jane Austen

Chapter 24

  • Elinor starts right in, saying that she'd like to serve as Lucy's confidante. Lucy is relieved, since she was worried that Elinor was offended by the secret. Elinor assures her that it's not true.
  • Lucy notes that Elinor was clearly made uncomfortable and unhappy by the fact that she and Edward are engaged, and says that she was sure that Elinor was angry with her. She's glad this isn't the case.
  • The pair dive right in to a practical conversation about money matters – after all, Edward is dependent on his mother for income, and Lucy's resigned to waiting for a while longer for him to have enough money to support him. It's clear that he'd get more money out of his mom if he married "well" – that is to say, upwards.
  • Elinor broaches a sensitive topic – isn't Lucy worried that Edward's affection will run out after all this waiting? Lucy denies that this is an issue.
  • As for the problem of Mrs. Ferrars, Lucy doesn't want to be too hasty; she thinks that Mrs. Ferrars might be so angered by news of the engagement that she'd give all her money to the younger son, Robert.
  • Elinor asks if Lucy knows Robert at all – she doesn't, but rumor has it he's foolish and vain, unlike Edward.
  • Miss Steele unfortunately overhears this last comment and loudly observes that the two girls must be talking about "beaux." There's a rather awkward moment where Mrs. Jennings refers jokingly to Elinor's beau (Edward), and Miss Steele, who knows about the secret engagement, says that Lucy's beau is just as nice as Elinor's. That is, we know, because he's the same guy. Seriously awkward.
  • Marianne fortunately intervenes musically, with a particularly loud movement of the piano piece she's playing. Under cover of the music, Lucy exposes her new cunning plan, which is to get John and Fanny to give the Norland "living" to Edward (that is, to make him pastor of the local village church, along with the salary that comes with the job). Of course, since John is Elinor's brother, Lucy wants Elinor's help in managing this plan.
  • Elinor basically shoots this down – since Fanny wouldn't be satisfied with Edward becoming a pastor, surely her intervention wouldn't help at all.
  • Lucy tries to pull the pity card, saying that the easiest thing would probably just to end the engagement. She asks for Elinor's advice on the matter.
  • Hmm…what's poor Elinor supposed to say? Of course, this would be the best thing for her
  • Elinor smiles to disguise her emotional turmoil, saying that surely her opinion wouldn't make a difference to Lucy. Lucy denies it – she really wants to hear Elinor's advice, and even claims that it's within Elinor's powers to make her break off the engagement.
  • Elinor again dodges the question; Lucy pushes her further. Several awkward moments of silence pass. Lucy gives up, and changes the subject – will the Dashwoods be in London in the winter?
  • Elinor says that they absolutely won't. Lucy says she's sorry to hear it, but certainly doesn't look sorry. She says that she'd hoped to see them there, but otherwise, she's only going to see Edward.
  • Finally, Elinor is called back to the card table; she goes back to the group, disgruntled and full of dislike for Lucy. The feeling appears to be mutual.
  • From then on, Elinor doesn't bring up the engagement, though Lucy reminds her of it constantly. Lucy and Anne's stay is drawn out for longer than expected, and eventually, they end up staying almost two months. Two months too long, as far as we're concerned.