Mrs Dalloway

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Psychology and Perception Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
Privacy, Loneliness, and Communication Theme Icon
Social Criticism Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Psychology and Perception Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Mrs Dalloway, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Psychology and Perception Theme Icon

The novel mostly consists of inner dialogue and stream of consciousness (a modernist technique that Woolf helped pioneer), so the inner workings of the characters’ minds are very important to the work. Woolf herself suffered from mental illness (and ultimately committed suicide), and certain aspects of her own psychological struggles appear in the book, particularly through Septimus. Woolf had a distrust of doctors regarding psychology, which she shows clearly in Dr. Holms and Sir William Bradshaw. Septimus is a tragic example of just how much harm doctors can do when they prefer conversion to understanding, refusing to truly examine another’s mental state.

In Septimus Woolf shows the inner workings of PTSD and mental illness, but in her other characters she also gives a brilliant, sensitive treatment of how the mind understands external sensations and time. Long, poetic passages capture the perception of images, sounds, memories, and stream of consciousness all at once. The science of psychology was still young in Woolf’s time, but in her intricate, penetrating character development she shows her own knowledge of the brain, creating personalities that exhibit the inner workings of all kinds of minds.

Get the entire Mrs Dalloway LitChart as a printable PDF.
Mrs dalloway.pdf.medium

Psychology and Perception ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Psychology and Perception appears in each section of Mrs Dalloway. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
How often theme appears:
Section length:

Psychology and Perception Quotes in Mrs Dalloway

Below you will find the important quotes in Mrs Dalloway related to the theme of Psychology and Perception.
Section 1 Quotes

For having lived in Westminster – how many years now? over twenty, – one feels even in the midst of the traffic, or waking at night, Clarissa was positive, a particular hush, or solemnity; an indescribable pause; a suspense (but that might be her heart, affected, they said, by influenza) before Big Ben strikes. There! Out it boomed. First a warning, musical; then the hour, irrevocable. The leaden circles dissolved in the air.

Related Characters: Clarissa Dalloway (speaker)
Related Symbols: Big Ben
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

Early in the novel, Big Ben strikes for the first time: it will occupy a central place in the novel even as its precise meaning and implications vary. The sound enters as a concrete measure in the midst of Clarissa's somewhat vague and disjointed thoughts. Time seems rather open and free in the beginning of this passage, even as Clarissa has the sense that she is waiting for something as she perceives the city around her. Big Ben's strikes divide this wide-open time, giving Clarissa a way to situate her perceptions within a certain order.

In a certain way, then, Big Ben's marking of time is a way for Clarissa to order her own perceptions and her own psychological reality. But it also, of course, can be heard throughout the city - indeed, its strikes record the passing of time in the most public, regulated ways possible. Big Ben will thus serve as a way to unite the various plot strands of the novel through a guiding motif. But it will also join them in a different way, as an underlying reminder of how "irrevocable" the passing of time is, as each strike "dissolves" such that the hour cannot be taken back or relived, except in memory.


Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Mrs Dalloway quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

She had a perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day. Not that she thought herself clever, or much out of the ordinary.

Related Characters: Clarissa Dalloway (speaker)
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

Throughout Mrs. Dalloway, the humdrum errands and daily realities of London life, taxi cabs and all, will contrast but also coexist with deep metaphysical questions, as well as the constant, looming reality of death. The danger of living "even one day" serves to justify the span of the novel - just one day - as containing within it themes both great and small. Within all the minutia of daily existence, the novel suggests, death is never far off - which can make daily life momentous even while suggesting that death is part of the fabric of insignificant daily realities. 

At the same time, there is a suggestion that Clarissa's own deep thoughts do not necessarily stem from her extraordinary mind or profound ideas. These lines imply that thoughts of life as dangerous or death as ever-present are the proper terrain of a scholar or philosopher - but here, Clarissa's own preoccupation with these questions suggests once again that they can be and are part of ordinary life. It is the disconnect between the wide range of her thoughts and their seeming distance from what she says and how she acts that contributes to her sense of being alone and "out to sea": she treasures this privacy, but it can easily turn towards loneliness as well.

But every one remembered; what she loved was this, here, now, in front of her; the fat lady in the cab. Did it matter then, she asked herself, walking towards Bond Street, did it matter that she must inevitably cease completely; all this must go on without her; did she resent it; or did it not become consoling to believe that death ended absolutely?

Related Characters: Clarissa Dalloway (speaker)
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

As Clarissa moves throughout London's streets, she pays close attention to the sights and sounds around her. In many ways, Clarissa seems to treasure these details and treasure the life that she sees pulsing within them. Life, for her, is precious even or especially when it includes "the fat lady in the cab," and everything else around her. Death, then, is to be feared because it means the end of this possibility of close, acute perception - as well as the fact that everything will continue without her there to perceive it.

At the same time, however, Clarissa seems to acknowledge that there is often just as much pain as joy in the act of intense psychological perception. In this sense, death would be a relief, a refuge from the inevitable, exhausting need to observe and perceive everything around her. These two views are not reconciled: instead, they both coexist, or rather Clarissa moves from one to another and back again as thoughts of death continue to occupy her.

Section 2 Quotes

“Look, look, Septimus!” she cried. For Dr. Holmes had told her to make her husband (who had nothing whatever seriously the matter with him but was a little out of sorts) take an interest in things outside himself.
So, thought Septimus, looking up, they are signalling to me. Not indeed in actual words; that is, he could not read the language yet; but it was plain enough, this beauty, this exquisite beauty… Tears ran down his cheeks.
It was toffee; they were advertising toffee, a nursemaid told Rezia.

Related Characters: Septimus Warren Smith (speaker), Lucrezia Smith (Rezia) (speaker), Dr. Holmes
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

An airplane has spelled out an advertisement for "TOFFEE" in sky writing, and Lucrezia Smith is drawing Septimus's attention to it. The first part of this passage satirically underlines the shocking (to a modern audience) disregard that many at the time - even doctors - showed towards people suffering from PTSD, a severe condition rather than a mere sign that Septimus was "out of sorts." Still, Lucrezia's cry to her husband does touch Septimus, even if in an entirely different way - one that he cannot communicate to Lucrezia.

Immediately after Septimus's sense of beauty and near-mystical communication, however, we learn what exactly the airplane is communicating: rather than a powerful, symbolic message, it is simply a profit-driven stunt, part of a modern world where material progress and wealth are ruthlessly pursued. The juxtaposition of the advertisement for toffee and Septimus's silent meditation is not just ironic, then, but also a sign of the tragic difficulty of real, profound communication that also, at least in this novel, is a part of modern life.

Section 3 Quotes

But she could remember going cold with excitement, and doing her hair in a kind of ecstasy… and going downstairs, and feeling as she crossed the hall “if it were now to die ‘twere now to be most happy.” That was the feeling – Othello’s feeling, and she felt it, she was convinced, as strongly as Shakespeare meant Othello to feel it, all because she was coming down to dinner in a white frock to meet Sally Seton!

Related Characters: Clarissa Dalloway (speaker), Sally Seton
Page Number: 34-35
Explanation and Analysis:

Clarissa is remembering the summer she spent at Bourton when she was younger, and when she was passionately in love with Sally Seton - a feeling that is quite different from her relationship to her husband, Richard. Here she recalls descending the stairs in a white dress to meet Sally. Like elsewhere, Clarissa draws on her knowledge of Shakespeare in assigning meaning to the events of her life and to her memories. The citation from Othello underlines just how vividly Clarissa perceived everything around her that summer - a time during which she felt a kind of communion that she's struggled to find since then. In addition, the citation reflects how closely joy and death are connected, for her, in that death seems to lie on just the other side of acute joy.

Then came the most exquisite moment of her whole life passing a stone urn with flowers in it. Sally stopped; picked a flower; kissed her on the lips. The whole world might have turned upside down! The others disappeared; there she was alone with Sally.

Related Characters: Clarissa Dalloway, Sally Seton
Related Symbols: Flowers
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

As she pursues her set tasks through the streets of London, where she remains largely anonymous and alone, Mrs. Dalloway returns in her thoughts to moments in her past at which she sensed true communion and connection to another. One of those moments is described, here, in the memory of her kiss with Sally. "Alone" she may have been, but in this case, paradoxically, solitude and the disappearance of others only enabled greater connection between the two women.

The novel also uses this passage to explore the strange workings of time: a moment can fill up more space than many empty hours, and can even be as powerful as years. The way time passes - or the way it seems to pass - can depend more on an individual's perception than on time as measured by clocks, and that one can return to past moments in memory reinforces a suggestion of perceived time as cyclical rather than linear.

Section 6 Quotes

It was awful, he cried, awful, awful!
Still, the sun was hot. Still, one got over things. Still, life had a way of adding day to day.

Related Characters: Peter Walsh (speaker)
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:

Peter is thinking about his long-ago rejection by Clarissa: her sublime memory of her kiss with Sally at Bourton now has another layer with the addition of Peter's separate, painful perception of that time. Peter shuttles between feeling acutely the real pain of that moment, and consoling himself by keeping his senses alert to what is around him here, in the present. In a way, he believes, time does ease pain merely by the fact of adding new experiences and memories atop old ones. He has had an entire life since Clarissa rejected him, after all. But at the same time, the last few sentences of this passage seem not to be entirely honest. Coming as they do directly after his exclamation at the "awful" event, they suggest that time does not heal all wounds, that present perception and the reality of past experiences do not cancel each other out, but rather coexist and mingle with each other.

Section 7 Quotes

“So you’re in a funk,” he said agreeably, sitting down by his patient’s side. He had actually talked of killing himself to his wife, quite a girl, a foreigner, wasn’t she? Didn’t that give her a very odd idea of English husbands? Didn’t one owe perhaps a duty to one’s wife? Wouldn’t it be better to do something instead of lying in bed? For he had forty years’ experience behind him; and Septimus could take Dr. Holmes’s word for it – there was nothing whatever the matter with him.

Related Characters: Dr. Holmes (speaker), Septimus Warren Smith, Lucrezia Smith (Rezia)
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:

Septimus is recalling his conversations with Dr. Holmes after Rezia sent for him, growing upset and angry at Septimus's coldness and inability to feel after the war. Here, Dr. Holmes shows himself to be the epitome of the clueless, conventional Englishman stuck in the Victorian past. He may have 40 years of experience as a doctor, but he is cheerfully unaware of the massive crisis caused by World War I, and seems entirely uninterested in taking Septimus's PTSD seriously. Perception, this passage says, is not necessarily a matter of trial and error, time and experience, such that someone who has lived longer would be better able to see things as they are. Instead, this book understands the Great War as a violent tear in history that has changed the very ways of experiencing the world, even while many people continued to refuse to understand that things had changed so drastically.

Shredding and slicing, dividing and subdividing, the clocks of Harley Street nibbled at the June day, counselled submission, upheld authority, and pointed out in chorus the supreme advantages of a sense of proportion, until the mound of time was so far diminished that a commercial clock, suspended above a shop in Oxford Street, announced… that it was half-past one.

Page Number: 102
Explanation and Analysis:

Rezia is thinking about how frustrating the consultation with Sir William has been, how annoyed she became at his unwillingness to listen and his insistence that Septimus conform to expected social categories and modes of being. Now, everything that Rezia perceives around her is filtered through this specific element of her consciousness. The "clocks of Harley street," in one sense, are the same for everyone - their chiming and striking divides the day equally in a standardized way, according to the modern social definition of time.  At the same time, though, this passage reminds us that the "mound of time" can feel entirely differently and mean very different things for different people. It may be "half past one" for everyone on Oxford Street, but for Rezia the equal divisions of clocks are at one with the submission and authority that she feels suffocated by, as a result of the consultation with Sir William. In such a way, time is shown to be not standardized at all, instead dependent on individual perception and affected by individual consciousness.

And there is a dignity in people; a solitude; even between husband and wife a gulf; and that one must respect, thought Clarissa, watching him open the door; for one would not part with it oneself, or take it, against his will, from one’s husband, without losing one’s independence, one’s self-respect – something, after all, priceless.

Related Characters: Clarissa Dalloway (speaker), Richard Dalloway
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

Richard has just returned home and has given Clarissa the flowers, although he was unable to say "I love you" - and yet he believed that Clarissa somehow understood. Here, we're reminded that such romantic, unspoken communication is largely an exception: Clarissa didn't, after all, understand what her husband meant. Yet at the same time, Clarissa seems to accept the "gulf" at the heart of even the intimate relationship between husband and wife. She even wonders if there's something positive in this lack of communication, since it suggests that there is something dignified and powerful about each person's precious, unbreakable solitude. 

Clarissa, after all, prizes her own independence and revels in being able to be alone in her thoughts. Nonetheless, it's never entirely clear in the novel to what extent Clarissa truly believes what she seems to think here, whether she's convincing herself that she does, or whether her real perception is entirely different than what we would expect from the prose. This inability to see into characters' consciousness fully is typical in the book, and it underlines the interest throughout the narrative about the complexity of communication, as well as the complexity of perception itself.

All the same, that one day should follow another; Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday; that one should wake up in the morning; see the sky; walk in the park; meet Hugh Whitbread; then suddenly in came Peter; then these roses; it was enough. After that, how unbelievable death was! – that it must end; and no one in the whole world would know how she had loved it all…

Related Characters: Clarissa Dalloway (speaker), Peter Walsh
Related Symbols: Flowers
Page Number: 122
Explanation and Analysis:

In her head, Clarissa runs over all the sensations and small happenings of the day thus far. She simultaneously marvels at the rich particularities of daily life and wonders at how easily they are all cut off. Here, we see a major difference between Clarissa and Septimus: although they are both preoccupied with death, Clarissa takes much greater joy in the small daily realities of her life. The events she mentioned are not important objectively - indeed, they're perhaps not important to anyone other than herself, as she acknowledges when she realizes that no one will be able, after her death, to witness and report how much she loved this life. But Clarissa is able to treasure them regardless.

Clarissa's thoughts here also linger on the strange nature of the passing of time. Indeed, one of the reasons she feels that her love of life will remain unremarked-upon is that she cannot manage to assign meaning to or profoundly conceptualize the way she experiences time as cut through with daily events. Clarissa usually is able to remark upon the daily happenings of her life without having to fit them into some greater meaning, but here she does think about this lack - although only in the vague sense of calling it strange and unbelievable.

The cruelest things in the world, she thought, seeing them clumsy, hot, domineering, hypocritical, eavesdropping, jealous, infinitely cruel and unscrupulous, dressed in a mackintosh coat, on the landing; love and religion. Had she ever tried to convert any one herself? Did she not wish everybody merely to be themselves? And she watched out of the window the old lady opposite climbing upstairs. Let her climb upstairs if she wanted to; let her stop; then let her, as Clarissa had often seen her, gain her bedroom, part her curtains, and disappear again into the background. Somehow one respected that – that old woman looking out of the window, quite unconscious that she was being watched. There was something solemn in it – but love and religion would destroy that, whatever it was, the privacy of the soul.

Related Characters: Clarissa Dalloway (speaker), The old woman across the way
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:

Clarissa is, first, thinking about how much she dislikes Doris Kilman and her earnest, aggressive Christianity. Then Clarissa watches an old woman in the house opposite her own climb up the stairs, and this scene, while seemingly totally separate from the previous one, ultimately fits in with Clarissa's frustration (especially given that so much of the novel's scenes are inflected by the consciousness of the person who experiences, perceives, and reflects upon them). In some ways, the old woman's solitude underlines how alone we all are in the world.

While the "privacy of the soul" has previously been cast in a negative light at times, here the aloneness of the old woman is something that Clarissa finds powerful and meaningful. Her privacy is something that, at least in the confines of her room, cannot be touched, and it gives her a certain dignity that is challenged to a greater extent in the social world. Nonetheless, Clarissa acknowledges how fragile such privacy and solitude are. "Love and religion," for Clarissa, are two things that involve other people, and so necessarily involve sacrifice and claims on one's own independence. At least in this passage, Clarissa disapproves of such claims, prizing the old woman for representing the opposite. Of course, we should remember that Clarissa is watching the old woman - as are we readers - which should make us question to what extent true privacy and solitude are possible at all.

Mrs. Peters had a spiteful tongue. Mr. Peters was in Hull. Why then rage and prophesy? Why fly scourged and outcast? Why be made to tremble and sob by the clouds? Why seek truths and deliver messages when Rezia sat sticking pins into the front of her dress, and Mr. Peters was in Hull?

Related Characters: Septimus Warren Smith (speaker), Lucrezia Smith (Rezia)
Page Number: 142
Explanation and Analysis:

Rezia is sewing a hat for Mrs. Peters, and for the first time in weeks, Septimus begins to awaken to the mundane reality around him and to pay attention to his surroundings. Here, in a series of rhetorical questions, he chides himself for his moments of rage and grief, of desire for truth-telling and for grasping at the profound realities of life. Now, he repeats the information that Rezia gives him, about where Mr. Peters is, about what Mrs. Peters is like, and clings on to these pieces of information as anchors grounding him in daily life. Rather than consider these things as banal and unimportant, Septimus - at least momentarily - feels that they are an opportunity for real communication with Rezia, as well as being powerful reminders of the potential meaning to be found in everyday life. 

But he would wait till the very last moment. He did not want to die. Life was good. The sun hot. Only human beings – what did they want? Coming down the staircase opposite an old man stopped and stared at him. Holmes was at the door. “I’ll give it you!” he cried, and flung himself vigorously, violently down on to Mrs. Filmer’s area railings.

Related Characters: Septimus Warren Smith (speaker), Dr. Holmes, Mrs. Filmer
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:

Septimus has been told he must be sent away and institutionalized because he has threatened suicide. Here, he has decided to end his life on his own terms - even though he does not want to die. This expression seems to conflict with how Septimus has felt earlier, and yet can be understood in light of the immediately preceding moments of true, powerful reception and communication with his wife. (Whether those moments could have lasted is a question the book raises, but does not answer.)

This powerful passage mixes narrative development with Septimus's scattered but lucid and perceptive mind. On one level, we get his thoughts on the basic human instinct for survival, but mixed with a reference to Clarissa's oft-quoted line from Shakespeare about "fear no more the heat o' the sun." (Here it is "Life was good. The sun hot.") This turns the quote's meaning on its head (the heat of the sun is a positive, simple aspect of living, instead of a negative, simple aspect of living), and its appearance in Septimus's mind also provides an almost metaphysical connection between himself and Clarissa at the moment of his death.

Septimus ends his life with an unanswerable question - what do human beings want? - as well as with an attempt at communication, throwing himself out of a window in a way that suggests a violent desire to transcend the boundaries of one's own confinement. Septimus's death is not just metaphysical, however: it also has social implications, since it is so telling that Septimus considers death better than the institutional confinement that is the only way people at the time can imagine dealing with problems like his PTSD. But the last moments of Septimus's life also pay homage to the power of perception that coexists with the depths of loneliness and fear.

Section 9 Quotes

Lady Bradshaw (poor goose – one didn’t dislike her) murmured how, “just as we were starting, my husband was called up on the telephone, a very sad case. A young man (that is what Sir William is telling Mr. Dalloway) had killed himself. He had been in the army.” Oh! thought Clarissa, in the middle of my party, here’s death, she thought.

Related Characters: Clarissa Dalloway (speaker), Lady Bradshaw (speaker)
Page Number: 183
Explanation and Analysis:

Lady Bradshaw and her husband, Sir William, have just arrived late to the party, and Lady Bradshaw explains to Clarissa why this is the case. We see once more how the narrative strains involving Clarissa and Septimus intersect in brief, glancing ways. Here, however, Clarissa will be more deeply affected than in previous scenes, even if initially she seems to be simply surprised more than moved or distraught. Clarissa is fully in her social-hostess mode, and it takes her a moment to adapt to the news - and yet she is also not entirely surprised, given that death seems to intrude in the way she thinks about daily life every day. That is, once again Clarissa notices and remarks upon the strangeness of trying to live one's everyday life with the looming reality of death, and without an overarching meaning.

The way Lady Bradshaw describes Septimus's death also underlines the British upper-class cluelessness regarding the true state of veterans suffering from PTSD. "He had been in the army" is a straightforward reason that Lady Bradshaw gives for Septimus's suicide, suggesting an awareness that one led to another, and yet this causal connection is neat and pat, allowing other characters to avoid responsibility or full awareness for Septimus's complex mental situation.

She had once thrown a shilling into the Serpentine, never anything more. But he had flung it away… A thing there was that mattered; a thing, wreathed about with chatter, defaced, obscured in her own life, let drop every day in corruption, lies, chatter. This he had preserved. Death was defiance. Death was an attempt to communicate; people feeling the impossibility of reaching the centre which, mystically, evaded them; closeness drew apart; rapture faded, one was alone. There was an embrace in death.

Related Characters: Clarissa Dalloway (speaker), Septimus Warren Smith
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, at the climax of the novel, Clarissa withdraws from the party and is able to see the connections to her double - the character through whom, though they never met, similar possibilities and limitations of perception and solitude are explored throughout the book. Here Clarissa contrasts her own frivolous, superficial life with the profound and meaningful act of communication that Septimus embraced - even if, paradoxically, this great moment of his life is what ended it. While Clarissa throws things away every day - a shilling into the Serpentine, for instance - she has never thought to fling away her life, even if she does treat it as something unimportant and expendable. 

Clarissa attempts to locate a center of life, of existence, though it is only vague for her - a "thing" that can be "defaced" or "obscured," or in Septimus's case "preserved" - but which ultimately moves away and "evades" all people. And once again, Clarissa considers the paradox of solitude and communication in death. On the one hand, Septimus's death is a kind of communication, but on the other it definitively cuts one off from everyone else. He has perhaps communicated something powerful to the world, but he can now receive no answering communication in return. Still, Clarissa considers even this act of isolation as a potentially powerful one, creating a kind of "closeness" if only because it becomes mutually clear how impossible true communication is.

…and the words came to her, Fear no more the heat of the sun. She must go back to them. But what an extraordinary night! She felt somehow very like him – the young man who had killed himself. She felt glad that he had done it; thrown it away. The clock was striking. The leaden circles dissolved in the air. He made her feel the beauty; made her feel the fun. But she must go back. She must assemble. She must find Sally and Peter. And she came in from the little room.

Related Characters: Clarissa Dalloway (speaker), Septimus Warren Smith, Peter Walsh, Sally Seton
Related Symbols: Big Ben
Page Number: 186
Explanation and Analysis:

Clarissa repeats again the phrase from Shakespeare's Cymbeline, another common thread between herself and Septimus. After a moment of darkness and despair, she once again is able to conceive of Septimus's suicide as a powerful and even positive act of communication and independence - even if, given Clarissa's shifting and contradictory opinions, we cannot be sure that this will be her final word on the subject. Still, in this scene she does feel a kinship with Septimus, suggesting that he has managed, through his death, to create a kind of communion with another person.

Once again the clock strikes, here reminding Clarissa of her duties at the party, but also serving as a reminder of the inevitable passing of time. Septimus's death has also reminded Clarissa of the "fun" and the "beauty" that she still has the time to experience in her own life. Rather than throwing away the everyday realities that have come to characterize her own existence, then, Clarissa feels once again able to return to what she has just recently labeled superficial and unimportant, feeling a renewed interest in her daily life.

“I will come,” said Peter, but he sat on for a moment. What is this terror? what is this ecstasy? he thought to himself. What is it that fills me with extraordinary excitement?
It is Clarissa, he said.
For there she was.

Related Characters: Peter Walsh (speaker), Clarissa Dalloway
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:

Peter and Clarissa have both changed profoundly over the course of what one might think is a random, insignificant dinner party. Clarissa has been deeply affected by Septimus's death, which has triggered a number of thoughts concerning her own life. Peter, meanwhile, through his conversation with Sally, has a renewed commitment to being honest, to communicating as best he can rather than remaining frustrated with the inevitable failure of such communication. Now, he pays close attention to what he's feeling, determined to identify his feelings for Clarissa as he truly experiences them, rather than denying them to himself. Peter is thus committed to an integrity of perception, one that would not hide or deny what is experienced but would pay renewed attention to the same. At the same time, however, the book ends with this scene, leaving the resolution off-stage: we never know what the scene of true communication between Peter, Clarissa, and Sally would look like - or even if it happens at all.