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Turn of the Screw:Novel Summary: Section 17

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Summary of Section XVII

That night as the governess passes by Miles's room, he invites her in to talk. He admits he stays awake at nights thinking of their “queer business,” such as the way she is bringing him up (p. 62). She says of course he shall go back to school but it will have to be a new school. She tells him he has never ever mentioned his old school or his old life to her, hoping to open the door to the subject, but he does not say anything except that he wants to get away from Bly. He wants his uncle to come down to settle it, and he warns that she will have to explain a lot. He says he wants her to leave him alone. She tenderly says that she only wants to help him and asks what happened before he came home. Miles says nothing, but when she repeats she wants to save him, he shrieks, and the candle blows out.

 

Commentary on Section XVII

This is another ambiguous scene, which, on one side, seems to say that Miles feels he is being abused in some way by the governess and wants her to leave him alone. On the other hand, he never answers about what happened at school and shrieks when she says she wants to save him, as though whatever is possessing him is answering. One way James constructs these scenes is to make everyone speak in half sentences without finishing their thoughts. The reader is left to piece the scene together from fragments.




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