Howards End

by

E. M. Forster

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Howards End: Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Margaret and Henry discuss their future. Henry mentions that he owns some shares in a currant-farm near Calamata, Greece, and Margaret asks if they might go there for their honeymoon. Henry responds that “it’s not the kind of place one could possibly go to with a lady,” having no hotels. Margaret reminds him that she and Helen “have walked alone over the Apennines, with our luggage on our backs,” and he replies that she will never do such a thing again if he can help it. They settle that Henry’s money must go to his children, Charles, Evie, and Paul, foremost, while Margaret continues to live off of her own generous means. “We’ve none too much, I assure you; you’re marrying a poor man,” Henry says absurdly. They agree to have their wedding immediately after Evie’s.
Henry expresses a strongly paternalistic opinion of what accommodations and activities are suitable for women. He denounces the idea of ladies traveling alone or on foot, which Margaret and Helen have always been keen on. Margaret raises no serious objections to his preposterous orders, evidently willing to give up her old ways of traveling—and more—for the sake of a happy marriage. Henry downplays his wealth despite privately calling himself a millionaire a few weeks earlier. It’s not quite clear if he reflexively hides his worth to avoid general scrutiny, or if he wants to protect his children’s inheritance from his fiancée.
Themes
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Capitalism Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
Next Henry and Margaret talk about where to live—Howards End has been rented out to a tenant, Oniton is too far from the city to be their primary home, and the house on Ducie Street has a foul-smelling stables behind it. Margaret notices that this is the first time Henry has mentioned the disagreeable mews to her—he didn’t allude to it at all when he was showing her the house to rent. The narrator calls this self-interested dishonesty “a flaw inherent in the business mind,” which Margaret would do well to forgive, given how much “the business mind has done for England.”
Margaret would be happy to live in Howards End, but Henry has already signed his wife’s home away for the next few years, preferring a grander home. Sadly, he has poor taste in properties himself, having chosen a building next to a horse stables and a manor home inconvenient to get to. Margaret catches him in a blatant deception regarding Ducie Street, but she indulgently laughs it off instead of calling him out.
Themes
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Capitalism Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Henry walks Margaret back to her aunt’s house and kisses her abruptly, without saying a word before or after. His behavior leaves her uneasy: “he had hurried away as if ashamed, and for an instant she was reminded of Helen and Paul.”
Margaret and Henry’s first kiss does not set the tone she would have wished for their marriage—he cannot own his emotions or passions.
Themes
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon