Washington Square: Chapter 25,26,27

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Summary – Chapters Twenty Five, Twenty Six and Twenty Seven

On the day they land, Catherine catches up with her aunt, Mrs Penniman, who tells her about Morris’s visits and lets her know how she has got to know him more. While away, Catherine had often wanted to confide in another woman, but is not pleased with the knowledge that her aunt has spent so much time with him when she has not.


Mrs Penniman also tells her how Morris used to sit in her father’s study and Catherine is silent for a moment as this is disagreeable to her. She finally says she is sorry she (her aunt) made him go in there and Mrs Penniman denies this and says he went in of his own accord.


Catherine is quiet once more and then says she wishes he had found some employment. Mrs Penniman says he has and is now in partnership with a commission merchant. She says he is as good as a partner and has people under him.


Catherine explains that her father is unchanged about Morris and also says if ‘he’ (Morris) does not care for her father’s money she should not either. Her aunt hesitates and says ‘“perhaps he does care for it”’ and Catherine says he cares for it for her sake. She follows this by accusing her aunt of being capricious and says to never ask her to plead with her father again as she has come home to be married. Her aunt is somewhat awestruck at this and gives ‘a little nervous laugh’.


In Chapter Twenty Six, Morris visits the day after Catherine’s return. She tells him her father is still against their union and he asks that he might try to win him over. She queries this, but he says he has more tact now. She says again that she does not want him to do this, as she thinks no good will come of it and has a reason to support her view.


He asks what this reason is and she says she now knows her father is ‘“not very fond”’ of her and she realized this on their last night in England. She does blame her father and says it is because he is so fond of her mother and she is not at all like her. She also tells him she does not mind her father disliking him now as she feels differently and is ‘“separated”’ from him. When Morris says they are a ‘“queer family”’ she entreats him to be kind as she has done ‘“a great deal”’ for him. She explains that she thinks her father despises her and on the voyage back she decided to never ask him for anything again or expect anything from him. She asks Morris to never despise her and he promises to do as she asks ‘with fine effect’.


Chapter Twenty Seven begins with the Doctor explaining to Mrs Penniman that he senses Mr Townsend has been to his home and is sure she invited him there a number of times. He also warns her that he has not changed his mind and says Townsend might bring a suit against her for ‘“reparation”’.


The Doctor learns from Mrs Almond that Morris has set up a business and is making ‘“a great deal of money”’. He stares and says Catherine has not told him this and notes too that she ‘“has given me up”’. He also says he has tried everything with Catherine and knows she is ‘“absolutely glued”’ – and this has come after he has wanted to see if she would ‘stick’ or not. Mrs Almond counsels that rather than Catherine jumping, or being pushed, they must spread as many carpets as they can if she is to have a fall.

The narrative cuts to Mrs Penniman writing to Morris, and it is explained that the intimacy between them is, from her perspective, akin to that between a mother and son.


Analysis – Chapters Twenty Five, Twenty Six and Twenty Seven

Mrs Penniman’s closeness to Morris has increased while Catherine and the Doctor have been away. However, it is clear that her vision of the connection between them as being comparable to a mother and son is not a reality.


Mrs Almond is the only voice of reason in the family as she advises her brother that they wait to help Catherine after she is inevitably hurt by Morris. At the same time, her sister writes to Morris as she thinks of the bond between them as being stronger than that between her and her niece.


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