The Go-Between

by

L. P. Hartley

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The Go-Between: Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Leo goes down to breakfast the next morning and notices his letter has now gone. Neither Mrs. Maudsley nor Marian is there. During the morning prayer, Leo considers how he feels about Marian but can’t “answer it.” He feels that her vision of him as “the Green Huntsman” has been “intoxicating” and “like a rebirth.”
Because his letter is gone, Leo can now assume that he’ll be leaving Brandham Hall before too long. With Marian away, he has a bit of space to try and figure out how he feels. He still wants to maintain his new identity, though exactly what that means is becoming unclear.
Themes
Coming of Age and Trauma Theme Icon
Leo now resents Marian thinking of him as green, and he can’t bear to look at his green suit. He is relieved that she’s not there that morning, leaving him free from the threat of “emotional show-down.”
Leo flip-flops between different opinions of Marian, showing that his psyche is truly torn.
Themes
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Leo feels that the next two days are two of the best at Brandham Hall, as he recovers from the events with Ted and Marian. Leo fondly imagines the bicycle, and thinks that, if he hadn’t learnt of the reason for its green color, he would have loved to receive it.
Leo enjoys these two days because he is liberated from his role as go-between. Returning to his child-like state, Leo spends more time daydreaming about the bicycle.
Themes
Coming of Age and Trauma Theme Icon
On Tuesday, Leo receives a letter. He doesn’t recognize the handwriting—it’s from Ted. In the letter, Ted apologizes for treating Leo so harshly at their last meeting, especially given that he had just learned that Leo’s father was dead. He invites Leo to come the following Sunday so that Ted can tell him what he failed to before.
Ted clearly feels guilty about his harsh treatment of Leo, but it’s hard to tell how sincere he is being. His mention of Leo’s dad subtly hints at Ted’s position as a role model for Leo. The promise of more information about “spooning” is of course meant to entice Leo into returning to the farm.
Themes
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Masculinity Theme Icon
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Leo is partially charmed by the letter, but still suspects it is a “ruse” to make him take more messages. Leo thinks it doesn’t matter much either way, as soon he will be returning home. It doesn’t occur to Leo that he ought to reply to the letter.
Leo is so sure that he is going to be returning home soon that he is quite carefree about Ted’s letter. He feels like the drama is over and that it’s only a matter of time before the whole Brandham Hall experience is just a memory.
Themes
Coming of Age and Trauma Theme Icon
Later on, Leo seeks out Trimingham and finds him in the smoking room. He asks Trimingham if he knows anything about Ted Burgess. Trimingham says he is “quite a decent fellow,” but a bit “wild.” He calls Ted a “lady-killer,” which Leo doesn’t really understand.
Leo doesn’t understand when adults use understatements or euphemisms. He doesn’t know why anyone could so casually be described as a killer of ladies, because he isn’t aware that this means sexually promiscuous.
Themes
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Love, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Mr. Maudsley enters the room and tells Trimingham that he should show Leo the pictures on the wall. The pictures, by the painter Teniers, are bawdy and lusty, which make Leo feel uncomfortable. Mr. Maudsley says that Leo doesn’t like the pictures.
Though interested in “spooning,” Leo can’t stomach the visually suggestive images on display. His curiosity about sex is just that—curiosity—rather than a clear awakening of sexual desire.
Themes
Coming of Age and Trauma Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Trimingham tells Mr. Maudsley that he and Leo had just been talking about Ted. Trimingham says he has been talking to Ted about the latter joining the army to go and fight in the Boer War. Trimingham thinks he would make a good soldier, as he’s single and a good shot. According to Trimingham, Ted was quite tempted.
Earlier in the novel, Trimingham had said that he needed to talk to Ted about something. Now the reader knows that it was about Ted joining the army. It’s not clear whether this is Trimingham’s attempt to remove the sexual threat of Ted, or if it’s a genuinely patriotic attempt to help his country.
Themes
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Love, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Mr. Maudsley says that Ted wouldn’t “be altogether a loss to the district” because of his womanizing. Leo leaves the room; as he does so, he hears Mr. Maudsley say to Trimingham that he has heard that Ted has “a woman up this way.”
Mr. Maudsley wouldn’t mind if Ted gets sent to war. It’s a tense moment when he says that he’s heard Ted has a woman up this way—Leo is (presumably) the only one in the room who knows that it’s Marian.
Themes
Love, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon