Howards End

by

E. M. Forster

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Howards End: Chapter 42 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After visiting Tibby in London, Charles returns to his house in Hilton, where Henry tells him what happened with Helen and Margaret earlier. Henry entrusts his son with escorting Helen and Margaret from Howards End first thing in the morning. On his instructions, Charles goes to Howards End and is talking with the sisters when Leonard Bast arrives. Charles grabs a sword off the wall and strikes Leonard with the flat of the blade. Leonard grabs the bookcase in the hall as he collapses, and it falls down on top of him. Charles carries him into the garden and realizes that the boy is dead.
Charles was at Howards End when Leonard arrived to see Margaret because he was sent by his father to gently but firmly “evict” Margaret and Helen from the house. Leonard provides Charles with an excuse to vent his anger and powerlessness and prove himself the type of bold man his father could be proud of. Like Henry, reputation-conscious Charles believes it honorable to make Helen’s married lover “pay heavily.” But while Henry was all talk, Charles fulfills his “duty” literally.
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Margaret explains that Leonard had been in the final stages of heart disease. Charles is so confident that he is not to blame for Leonard’s death that he goes to the police station and tells them what happened. The police say that there will still be an inquest, but Charles is sure that the cause of death will be heart disease. Henry is not so sure after he hears that Charles used a sword upon the boy. He decides to walk over to the police station, declining Charles’ offer to drive him.
Leonard apparently had a fatal heart attack after Charles began to hit him, which Charles takes to mean he is not at fault for Leonard’s death. No one seems to think it strange that a young man in his early twenties, who regularly walked long distances, suddenly perished from heart disease. Only Henry seems to understand that Charles could be held accountable for his rash actions. He begins to realize the dangerous consequences of the thoughtless aggression he has encouraged in his children.
Themes
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