Howards End


E. M. Forster

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Howards End: Chapter 35 Summary & Analysis

Margaret and Henry lunch with Dolly before heading over to Howards End to ambush Helen. Margaret seems quite agitated before they leave, and Henry decides to try to go without her. His plan is foiled when Dolly’s young son unwittingly sits down in the middle of the driveway and sets off a commotion when Henry tries to back out. Margaret makes it into the car, after all, and thinks that now she knows how Helen will feel to be deceived and betrayed.
Henry feels no remorse over his deceptions whatsoever. He arrogantly does whatever he believes to be in his own or someone else’s best interest, without ever considering that he could be wrong. His wife and his sister-in-law’s gender only gives him more imagined license to deceive them at will.  Being the subject of Henry’s patronizing schemes herself gives Margaret an understanding of just how upset Helen will be.
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Henry picks up a doctor, and Margaret becomes more and more convinced that the men’s attitudes about Helen are all clinical and misconceived. She feels that she made a terrible mistake in betraying her sister’s trust. She remembers how suspiciously unimaginative people like Henry view independent-minded people like Helen and Margaret herself at heart. She thinks that she and her sister “would be mad together if the world chose to consider them so.” When they arrive at Howards End and see Helen sitting on the porch, Margaret jumps out of the car ahead of the men to reach Helen first. She realizes that her sister has merely been pregnant all this time, not mad. She hurries Helen inside the house and confronts the men outside.
Margaret comes to believe that conventional male wisdom will likely hurt rather than help Helen, and she wishes she had never involved her husband or the doctor. She finally admits to herself that Henry cannot see as she does—he can understand only the prose, not the passion. Her loyalty to him has been unwavering since their engagement, but now she vows to herself to take Helen’s side absolutely and be seen as mad along with her by the world—meaning, by incurably conventional minds like Henry’s—if she must. Once again, she leaps out of a car with a Wilcox behind the wheel in loyalty to her principles and to her besieged gender.
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