Study Guide

The Turn of the Screw Chapter 9

By Henry James

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Chapter 9

  • The Governess waits it out for a few days, watching the children closely for signs of…well, of anything. Nothing particularly enlightening happens, but she's afraid that they might notice her unusually affectionate behavior.
  • The children themselves are also unusually affectionate during this time, and the Governess is constantly more and more impressed and beguiled by them. They're any teacher's dream – attentive, bright, loving, and cute to boot.
  • Miles is particularly exceptional. The question of where he will go to school poses itself to the governess – what will she do with him?
  • The mystery of Miles's expulsion remains problematic. The Governess tries to draw the truth out, but is unsuccessful. Mostly, she spends her time playing with the kids, and tries to be with them all the time so that the ghosts have no chance to edge their way in.
  • Flora and Miles are unusually peaceful siblings, and they seem to have a secret understanding – they never fight about anything. That in itself seems a little fishy to us.
  • However, though everything seems to be just swell for a time, the Governess hasn't escaped the horror that lurks around Bly. Late one night, as she sits reading alone, she has a feeling that something's up. Putting her book aside, she leaves her room and creeps out into the hall.
  • Walking down the lobby, she is unpleasantly surprised. Her candle mysteriously blows out and she sees that the approaching dawn made the light unnecessary, anyway.
  • By the light of the window, she sees the dreadful figure of Peter Quint halfway up the stairs – this is the closest she's been to the specter. They stare each other down again; this time, oddly, she feels no fear, and stands her ground.
  • The creepiest thing, to the Governess, is the total silence that passes between her and Quint…it's the only jarringly unnatural element of this meeting. They stare at each other for a painfully long moment before Quint descends the stairs and disappears.

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