Washington Square: Chapter 22,23,24

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Summary – Chapters Twenty Two, Twenty Three and Twenty Four

Morris has slightly misrepresented the matter as he has not fixed a date for the wedding. The Doctor’s opposition is the unknown quantity in this problem.


Catherine has another trouble in that she thinks she should not live in her father’s home as she has disobeyed him. Her father does not look at or speak to Catherine at this time. She tells him she has seen Morris again and they will still marry and meet once a week.


Her father looks at her coldly, like a stranger, and asks why they do not meet three times a day. When she says they will marry soon, he asks why she is telling him as it is no concern of his. She breaks and asks if he cares and he says, ‘“not a button”’


The next day her father’s manner has changed somewhat and he asks her if she will marry in the next four or five months. She says she does not know and he asks her to put it off for six months and in the meantime he offers to take her to Europe. At first she is pleased, but is conscious that Morris is not included and thinks she would prefer to stay at home with him.


She says she would be delighted to go and adds that she had better tell Morris. He says he hopes he will give her leave as this is all that remains and the subject turns to Catherine saying she thinks she should not live at home as she has been disobeying him (her father). He suddenly realizes he has underestimated her and is still displeased with her. He tells her this idea is in bad taste and wants her to keep it to herself. He is also more determined than ever that she should go to Europe.


In Chapter Twenty Three, it is related that Mrs Penniman is not invited on the Europe trip and she is accepting of this. She also lets Catherine know that the Doctor means for the trip to make her forget Morris. Catherine is alarmed and says she should tell her father this will not happen. Mrs Penniman tells her to wait till she comes back, ‘“after he has had all the trouble and expense”’.


Catherine arranges to meet Morris in the Square and tells him about the trip and how it could be for six months. She hopes he will tell her to stay at home.


Morris thinks she is dull when he asks her if she does not want to see all ‘“those celebrated things”’. He reminds her she can also buy her wedding clothes in Paris and marry when she returns. He says it will be good for her to go as this would put them both in the right (in her father’s eyes) and he does not want to be responsible for her being disinherited.


The holiday goes ahead and the Doctor stays abroad for 12 months. While he is away, Mrs Penniman makes the most of having the house to herself and often invites Morris to tea. Here, he makes himself at home all the more. And he visits the Doctor’s study when he wishes. Mrs Almond criticizes her sister for this laxity and points out that if he marries Catherine and she does not inherit her father’s money, he will take his revenge on her and be ‘“pitiless and cruel”’.


Chapter Twenty Four outlines how for the first six months away the Doctor does not talk to Catherine about their ‘little difference’. She receives her letters from Morris via Mrs Penniman and the Doctor is unaware of this but presumes letters are exchanged.


One day, after they have been walking in the Alps, the Doctor asks Catherine if she has ‘“given him up”’ and she says no. He asks if he writes to her and she says yes. He tells her he is angry about this and she apologizes. He tells her she has tried his patience and he has been ‘“raging inwardly”’ for the last six months. He asks if she has yielded an inch in this time and she says she would if she could but she cannot. He says Morris will leave her and she defends him.


Her father leaves her alone again for the next six months and she does not protest over the extension of the tour. He only speaks on this subject again when they are in Liverpool and are waiting to set sail for New York the next day. He asks what she means to do when she gets home and she says she will probably marry. He asks her to give him notice of when he is to ‘“lose”’ her and he says three days is enough. He also says he has done him (Morris) a favor by taking her away and has ‘“fattened the sheep for him before he kills it”’.


Analysis – Chapters Twenty Two, Twenty Three and Twenty Four

The critical manner in which Morris views his intended, Catherine, is exemplified in his thoughts rather than his speech. This is made apparent when she tells him of her forthcoming trip to Europe and he sees her as dull for wanting to stay in New York instead. Her devotion to him may be seen as characteristic of a woman who follows the stereotype of romance. Here, the woman is a passive object waiting to be dominated by the masculine man and to Morris’s credit he, like the Doctor, refuses the myth of the traditional romantic dream.


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