Study Guide

The Luminaries Part 2, Chapter 5

By Eleanor Catton

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Part 2, Chapter 5

The Lesser Malefic (18 February 1866)

  • Ben has received Lauderback's letter and, as is his custom, is contacting Shepard to give him the chance to respond before the letter goes to press. He assumes that Balfour is the one who spilled the beans about Nilssen's involvement in Shepard's construction.
  • While he was in the middle of writing Balfour to chastise him when Frank Carver walks in.
  • Ben is friendly at first—however, he's definitely out to knock Carver off balance and get some info out of him. For example, he starts out calling him Wells, since that was the alias Carver had used with him in the past. Carver corrects him irritably. Ben apologizes, but not without noting that his memory is really, really good …
  • Carver explains he had come to place that ad on Wells's behalf. Ben tries to get more information, but Carver isn't forthcoming. Ben presses nonetheless, getting nowhere.
  • Carver eventually tells Ben what he wants the ad to say. And then, out of the blue, he tells Ben to shut his "f—ing mouth."
  • Then Ben loses his cool and starts yelling at Carver for beating Anna up and killing his own child in the process. Carver claims Anna got what she deserved. Also, he says that baby was not his.

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