The Go-Between

by

L. P. Hartley

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The Go-Between: Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The following Sunday morning is utterly blissful for Leo. His triumphant role in both the cricket match and the singing afterwards make him feel that belongs to the celestial world, at one with his “dream life.” Furthermore, he is happy that Marian will marry Trimingham, whom he considers “his idol.”
This is Leo’s happiest moment in the book, basking in the glories of his catch and his singing. Further, he assumes that because Marian is now engaged, the affair will stop, and he won’t be tangled in the situation any longer.
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Leo assumes that he will no longer be required to take messages between Marian and Ted, due to her engagement to Trimingham. Although he likes Ted in a “half-admiring, half-hating way,” the “spell” of Ted’s physical presence intimidates him. Leo admires Ted’s manliness but feels he has defeated Ted twice (through the cricket match and the singing). Because he overshadowed Ted, he no longer finds him a “discordant” thought that he has to resolve.
Leo naively believes that everything has been brought to its logical conclusion. Weighing up Trimingham and Ted, Leo prefers Trimingham, as he represents a world he feels he has come to understand: the upper class. Ted is still mysterious, and his ability to cast a physical “spell” is a rival to Leo’s supernatural powers.
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Leo writes a letter to his mother, outlining his current happiness and asking to stay at Brandham Hall for longer. Leo remembers that Ted had said he would tell Leo about “spooning”, and Leo thinks that out of politeness he will visit Ted at some point in the next couple of weeks. Leo notices that, though it’s cloudy, the temperature is continuing to rise.
Leo wants to remain in paradise for as long as possible. The threat from Ted seems nullified, and the issue of “spooning” no longer as pressing. That’s because Marian’s engagement to Trimingham makes her virginal again—not necessarily in terms of sex, but because she is following the proper code of conduct of the upper class by marrying someone as prestigious as Trimingham.
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Later in the day, Leo attends church again. He is glad that the service doesn’t last too long, as he feels “impatient with Christianity” and that there isn’t a “flaw in the universe.” He notices that the Viscount memorials on the wall include their wives too, and imagines Marian’s name up there.
Leo’s zodiacal idea of the universe is made complete now that he feels he has made sense of romance and marriage. He likes the grandiosity of the names on the wall, and is happy that Marian will occupy such an important place in the world.
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After the service, Leo walks home with Trimingham. They talk about how well Marian plays the piano, and Leo asks Trimingham why there is no fifth Viscount on the wall. Trimingham tells him that the fifth Viscount died in a duel over his wife. Evidently, she had been “too friendly with another man”; after challenging this other man, the fifth Viscount was killed in the ensuing duel and buried in France. Leo asks whether the fifth Viscount would have minded so much if he had and his wife had not been married, to which Trimingham says he assumes so. Leo momentarily considers that there is a parallel between the fifth Viscount’s situation and Trimingham’s.
This is confusing to Leo, as he thought marriage came with a guarantee that two people will remain together. There are obvious parallels between the fifth Viscount’s situation and the current Lord Trimingham, planting a seed of worry in Leo’s psyche that a similar tragedy could take place. The story shows Leo that marriage is not a perfect, final act between two people, and that life can have more in store for them.
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Leo asks Trimingham whether the untimely death of the fifth Viscount was his wife’s fault. Trimingham insists “nothing is ever a lady’s fault.” Leo asks if men still shoot each other over ladies, to which Trimingham replies “sometimes.” They discuss the Boer war, which is where Trimingham sustained his facial injury. He says the Boers aren’t innately bad, and it’s a shame that so many of them had to be shot.
Trimingham’s advice to Leo makes it difficult for Leo to blame Marian hereon in for anything that goes wrong. Trimingham’s talk about the war conceives of the matter in a similarly essentialist way to Leo’s earlier thoughts—the Boers aren’t necessarily bad, it’s just in their nature to want to fight.
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