The Go-Between


L. P. Hartley

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The Go-Between: Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Leo writes his mother another letter, asking to come back home early. He tells her that his reasons for wanting to return involve the messages, but he doesn’t give her much detail of the situation, just saying that what he is being made to do is “Rather Wrong and perhaps Very Wrong.” He also tells her of the hot weather—he knows she is often concerned about Leo overheating. Privately, Leo fears that Ted will shoot Trimingham because of Marian.
Leo reverts to being more like a young boy, calling on his mother to rescue him. But he’s also bound by his vow of secrecy, and afraid of what will happen if he tells her too much of the truth. He tries to use the heat, which until now has intoxicated him, as a means of escape.
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Leo fears that Marian will have told everyone at Brandham that he is a “swollen-headed brat” and a “stupid little boy,” but when he gets back to the Hall everyone is very receptive to his arrival. Marian is pouring out tea for the guests, playing the role of animated host. Mrs. Maudsley, for once, hasn’t joined for tea. Marian pours tea for Leo, and quietly tells him to wait behind for her afterwards. Instead, Leo locks himself away in his room.
Marian won’t have told anyone about her fallout with Leo because that would arouse suspicion. Leo naively thinks that if he can avoid being in her presence he can avoid getting further involved. As Mrs. Maudsley is away, Marian is quite happy to perform the role of host, free from her mother’s watchful eye.
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Later on, Trimingham stops Leo in the hallway. Leo thinks that if he returns home, Ted and Marian’s relationship will cease. Trimingham asks Leo to find Marian for him. He tells Leo that Marian is going to London tomorrow, and that he needs to speak with her before she goes. Leo remembers that Marian said she was going to her grandmother’s, meaning Leo will be unable to find her. Trimingham lets slip that Mrs. Maudsley is not well.
Leo’s belief that his departure from the Hall will put a stop to the relationship is naïve and misguided. This also represents the first misstep in the generally guarded behavior of Trimingham. Preoccupied with thoughts about Marian’s whereabouts, he accidentally lets slip that Mrs. Maudsley is unwell.
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