Study Guide

The Haunting of Hill House Chapter 8

By Shirley Jackson

Chapter 8

  • The group wonders if they should inform Mrs. Montague and Arthur that Mrs. Dudley clears the table at ten. 
  • Eleanor lets everyone know Mrs. Montague and Arthur are on their way. What she doesn't say is that she's become linked to the house and can hear everything happening inside the place.
  • Mrs. Montague and Arthur are irritated at how little they slept last night, but their complaint list includes typical old-house bogeys such as musty smells and branches tap-tap-tapping against windows. Nothing preternatural.
  • While writing their notes, Eleanor asks Theodora if she can go home with her after their Hill House expedition. Theodora tells her no, saying "I am not in the habit of taking home stray cats" (8.26). Burn.
  • Later, Theodora and Luke are talking when Luke suggests to Eleanor she take a walk down by the brook. He offers to come along to frighten off those wascally wabbits.
  • They all go. Theodora and Luke talk while giving Eleanor a shoulder most cold. Eleanor even tries to talk about some profound stuff like how she feels guilty over her mother's death. She gets little response.
  • Eleanor, Theodora, and Luke come to a section of the path where they have to go on single file. Eleanor goes first and thinks it's okay that she won't move in with Theodora. She'll just get a place close by, with a white cat and a cup of stars, and she'll visit Theodora often. So she'll get the happiness she's long searched for. It's all good.
  • When she gets to the brook, Eleanor sits down but notices no one is behind her. She hears footsteps, though, and a voice whispering her name over and over again.
  • The mystery entity leaves, and Eleanor chases after it. She runs into Luke and Theodora sitting under a tree, giggling. When they notice her, they both seem furtive (Word of the Day calendar for the vocabulary win).
  • Time jump. We return to the Montagues. They're bickering over the finer points of ghost hunting, while Arthur gives Luke lessons on the manly art of manliness. Lesson one: no croquet. Lesson two: those fancy sauces are out.
  • The group discusses Arthur's head-mastering technique, but Mrs. Montague reminds him he's on vacation. No shop talk.
  • Another time jump (this chapter's full of them). We have Luke serenading Theodora with a little ditty about mass murder. It's called "The Grattan Murders," and it may or may not be a reference to Ambrose Bierce's "The Moonlit Road," a short Gothic story. 
  • Theodora loves it. The two discuss how they'll be represented in Dr. Montague's book while, far away, Eleanor hears their laughter through the house.
  • Let's do the time jump. In the parlor, Arthur annoys Dr. Montague by dialoging him while he's trying to write notes. In the dining room, Mrs. Montague and Mrs. Dudley are hitting it off rather fabulously. Eleanor hears these conversations as well.
  • Another time jump. Luke and Theodora tease Eleanor a bit, but Eleanor's mind is elsewhere. She's linked to the house, listening to everything that's happening.
  • Mrs. Montague storms into the room, complaining that Dr. Montague's mistrust of the planchette means the device won't communicate with her this evening. Shame and fie.
  • Everyone tries to calm Mrs. Montague down... all except Eleanor. She hears an old timey children's rhyming song. Someone's singing it in the room. And nobody can hear it but her.

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