Following their marriage, Queenie and Bernard have an extremely lukewarm sexual relationship. Queenie is disgusted by the entire process, and wonders why she spends so much time waving her hair and putting on makeup when Bernard never seems to notice what she looks like. Queenie hopes she’ll at least have a baby, but she never conceives. When she consults a doctor, he tells her to take more pleasure in conjugal relations.
While Queenie has achieved the prosperous and secure life Aunt Dorothy hoped for, Queenie realizes that the romantic aspects of marriage are more important than she thought. Queenie’s inability to even have a baby represents the fundamental lack of cohesion in her marriage.
Bernard and his mentally ill father, Arthur, own a tall house in Earls Court, a nice neighborhood, but they only use a few rooms in the basement, letting the rest molder away. When Queenie arrives, she cleans the house and rearranges furniture, trying to convince Bernard to open it up; but he always shakes his head, rejecting her efforts without explaining his reasons.
Queenie’s initial status as an outsider in the house is a contrast to her later power as a single landlady; her relationship to her home represents her unhappiness within marriage and her calm independence outside it.