A Wagner Matinée

by

Willa Cather

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Howard Carpenter Character Analysis

Howard is Georgiana’s husband and Clark’s uncle by marriage. He does not appear directly in the story. Howard and Georgiana met when he was “an idle, shiftless boy of twenty-one,” and his “callow fancy” was kindled by Georgiana. Georgiana then eloped with him, over the objections of her family, and the two moved to a homestead in Nebraska. The story only hints at the couple’s marital dynamics; while there are suggestions that Howard still cares for Georgiana, she does not seem to be a priority for him, as it takes fifteen years for him to buy her a parlor organ and his letter to Clark announcing her visit is mailed at the last moment. He also seems to have been a stern taskmaster, demanding long workdays from Clark and sometimes speaking harshly to him.

Howard Carpenter Quotes in A Wagner Matinée

The A Wagner Matinée quotes below are all either spoken by Howard Carpenter or refer to Howard Carpenter. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Civilization vs. The Frontier Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of A Wagner Matinée published in 1992.
A Wagner Matinee Quotes

The name of my Aunt Georgiana opened before me a gulf of recollection so wide and deep that I felt suddenly a stranger to all the present conditions of my existence, wholly ill at ease and out of place amid the familiar surroundings of my study. I became, in short, the gangling farmer-boy my aunt had known, scourged with chilblains and bashfulness, my hands cracked and sore from the corn husking.

Related Characters: Clark (speaker), Georgiana Carpenter, Howard Carpenter
Page Number: 190
Explanation and Analysis:

Aunt Georgiana had been a music teacher at the Boston Conservatory, somewhere back in the latter sixties. One summer, while visiting in the little village among the Green Mountains where her ancestors had dwelt for generations, she had kindled the callow fancy of my uncle, Howard Carpenter, then an idle, shiftless boy of twenty-one. When she returned to her duties in Boston, Howard followed her, and the upshot of this infatuation was that she eloped with him, eluding the reproaches of her family and the criticism of her friends by going with him to the Nebraska frontier.

Related Characters: Clark (speaker), Georgiana Carpenter, Howard Carpenter
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:

During the years when I was riding herd for my uncle, my aunt, after cooking the three meals—the first of which was ready at six oclock in the morning—and putting the six children to bed, would often stand until midnight at her ironing-board, with me at the kitchen table beside her, hearing me recite Latin declensions and conjugations, gently shaking me when my drowsy head sank down over a page of irregular verbs. It was to her, at her ironing or mending, that I read my first Shakspere, and her old text-book on mythology was the first that ever came into my empty hands. She taught me my scales and exercises on the little parlour organ which her husband had bought her after fifteen years during which she had not so much as seen a musical instrument.

Related Characters: Clark (speaker), Georgiana Carpenter, Howard Carpenter
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:

She would sit beside me by the hour, darning and counting, while I struggled with the Joyous Farmer. She seldom talked to me about music, and I understood why. Once when I had been doggedly beating out some easy passages from an old score of Euryanthe I had found among her music books, she came up to me and, putting her hands over my eyes, gently drew my head back upon her shoulder, saying tremulously, Dont love it so well, Clark, or it may be taken from you.

Related Characters: Clark (speaker), Georgiana Carpenter (speaker), Howard Carpenter (speaker)
Page Number: 192
Explanation and Analysis:
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Howard Carpenter Character Timeline in A Wagner Matinée

The timeline below shows where the character Howard Carpenter appears in A Wagner Matinée. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
A Wagner Matinee
Civilization vs. The Frontier Theme Icon
...Nebraska village.” The letter, which looks “worn” and “none too clean,” is from his Uncle Howard, informing Clark that Howard’s wife, Clark’s Aunt Georgiana, must travel to Boston to attend to... (full context)
Civilization vs. The Frontier Theme Icon
Music and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Home and Estrangement Theme Icon
...ancestral village in Vermont one summer, she had attracted the attention of the “idle, shiftless” Howard Carpenter, who followed her back to Boston. Georgiana ultimately eloped with him to the Nebraska... (full context)
Civilization vs. The Frontier Theme Icon
...six children, his aunt would often iron until midnight while Clark, who rode herd for Howard, drowsily studied Latin, Shakespeare, or mythology at her side. (full context)
Civilization vs. The Frontier Theme Icon
Music and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Home and Estrangement Theme Icon
Georgiana also taught Clark to play the parlor organ, an instrument Howard had bought for her “after fifteen years during which she had not so much as... (full context)
Civilization vs. The Frontier Theme Icon
Music and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Home and Estrangement Theme Icon
...him about splendid musical performances in the cowshed while Clark was especially tired, or after Howard had spoken sharply to him. (full context)