Study Guide

The Haunting of Hill House Chapter 2

By Shirley Jackson

Chapter 2

  • This chapter starts with a discussion on how houses have the same qualities as human faces. Hill House's face shows that it "can only be evil" (2.1). Then again, we've hardly had a chance to get to know the guy—er, house.
  • Eleanor stands where she is, the urge to flee from the last chapter still urging.
  • Ignoring said urge, Eleanor drives the rest of the way to Hill House as "an act of moral strength" (2.5).
  • Eleanor meets Mr. Dudley's wife, a.k.a. Mrs. Dudley.
  • Without a word, Mrs. Dudley walks up the stairs. Eleanor follows with her suitcase, marveling at the house's slipshod style. It's as if the builders just gave up on a coherent design simply to finish their construction duties and bail.
  • Mrs. Dudley shows Eleanor to her room, the blue room. The room is decorated totally in blue. Apparently no one took the time to invent creative names either.
  • Eleanor gets the rundown from the caretaker. Dinner is at six sharp; Mr. and Mrs. Dudley beat feet when it gets dark. No one is around for miles, and no townsfolk besides the Dudleys will come near the place.
  • The guests will be all alone if they need help. Wow, Mrs. Dudley sure is a chipper one.
  • Eleanor thinks to herself, "Journeys end in lovers meeting" (2.27), and wishes she could go home.
  • Eleanor recounts the journey that brought her to Hill House and then looks over the blue room. In a word, it's awful.
  • But Eleanor bucks up and begins unpacking, reminding herself that it was her choice, and she tells herself that thing again about how journeys end when lovers meet.
  • And who should show up at the door just then? Why, it's Theodora, the second assistant.
  • Mrs. Dudley shows Theodora to her room, the one next to Eleanor's. It's the green room.
  • Eleanor finds Theodora instantly charming. The two hit it off while Mrs. Dudley stands in the background, spilling her spiel about dinner and the dark.
  • The new best friends decide to go exploring and dress up. Eleanor chooses a red sweater and red sandals while Theodora rocks a yellow ensemble. Both feel the other's clothing selection brings more light into Hill House.
  • Eleanor and Theodora have difficulty opening the massive door, so Theodora props it with a vase. Mrs. Dudley will have none of that. She removes the vase and shuts the door. Clearly, these two won't be chums.
  • While exploring, the ladies find a path taking them down to a babbling brook. It's got minnows, wildflowers, and sun-tickled water: the works.
  • Eleanor and Theodora decide to have a picnic and chitchat about uncles and hobbies. You know, the usual thing. They even discover they're cousins—never you mind that they are making up their histories as they go. Hey, it's all about the lady bonding.
  • Something moves in the grass, frightening the women. They believe it's just a just rabbit, and the scare convinces Eleanor that they should be heading back.
  • Theodora definitely thinks they should have a picnic at the brook, but Eleanor isn't sure she can do it.
  • Theodora comforts her, saying they can't be separated now, not after finding out they're cousins.

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