On the train, Mrs. Munt recalls when her sister Emily died after giving birth to Tibby. Margaret was only thirteen at the time, but she insisted that she didn’t need Juley to come and help raise Tibby and five-year-old Helen. When the children’s father died five years later, Margaret again refused her aunt’s offer to move in. But Mrs. Munt feels bound to intervene now and then, often giving bad advice. She mistrusts the tendency of her unmarried nieces to invite all types of people over—she is especially suspicious of foreigners, even the Schlegels’ German cousins on their father’s side—and is pleased to be on hand to help prevent one potential scandal.
Juley Munt gives the conventional English perspective on the Schlegel family. Forster portrays her as rather ridiculous and overbearing, if well-intentioned. She advises bad investments in the country’s railways based on blind faith in national institutions, and has a narrow view of acceptable social company. She disapproves of her nieces’ mixed acquaintances, looking down on the Wilcoxes as inferior social climbers. Meanwhile, Margaret appears quite competent and capable.
Mrs. Munt gets off the train, and Charles Wilcox happens to be there when she asks for Howards End. He offers to drive her back with him. Unfortunately, she mistakes him for Paul and begins to talk to him about Helen’s news. He is shocked to hear that Paul and Helen are in love and heatedly opposes the match. Although Mrs. Munt certainly agrees, she is offended for Helen’s sake, and the two quarrel until they arrive at Howards End. Helen runs out of the house to explain everything to her aunt, while Charles shouts at Paul. Ruth appears, carrying a wisp of hay, and calmly breaks up the scene. She reassures Charles that the engagement is over—“They do not love any longer.”
Charles Wilcox and Juley Munt share a common zeal for the status quo, but each accuses the other of disrupting it. Their misunderstanding and heated dispute is associated with the disorienting, headlong movement of trains and cars. Only when they arrive at the tranquil grounds of Howards End can harmonious understanding be restored, at the skillful hands of wise Ruth Wilcox.