The Go-Between

by

L. P. Hartley

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The Go-Between: Chapter 5  Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Breakfast at Brandham Hall is an orderly affair, announced by the ringing of a gong and beginning with prayers read by Mr. Maudsley. Marcus and Leo always attend breakfast, but Marian is frequently absent or arrives halfway through.
There is a rigid structure to proceedings in the upper classes, and a stiff morality suggested by the daily prayers. Even at this early stage, the reader can tell that Marian is rebellious—something else is calling her.
Themes
Social Class and Hierarchy Theme Icon
This particular Sunday morning, Marcus isn’t feeling well and stays in bed. He asks Leo to give Trimingham his regards. Leo feels Trimingham to be a “weight” on his thoughts, and considers whether to cast a spell on him.
Leo continues to conceptualize his world in supernatural terms. He hasn’t met Trimingham yet, but he seems like some kind of threat to Leo’s position.
Themes
Fate, Myth, and Magic Theme Icon
Trimingham sits next to Leo at breakfast. Leo can’t help noticing the bad scarring on one side of his face—its damaged eye doesn’t look able to close and is watering.
Trimingham’s injury was sustained in the Boer War, a war fought in present-day South Africa between two sets of colonists: the British and a Dutch group called the Boer. The war was known for its brutality. Trimingham’s damaged eye symbolizes his inability to see emotional truths like Marian and Ted can. Trimingham's injury also implies a certain amount of war heroism, typically idealized masculine traits. At the same time, the injury makes him notably unattractive.
Themes
Coming of Age and Trauma Theme Icon
Masculinity Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Leo wonders why the Maudsleys are making such a fuss about Trimingham’s arrival. To Leo, he seems to be of a social position “below that of a gentleman but above that of, well, such a person as Ted Burgess.” Marian sits next to Trimingham, giving him her full attention.
Leo tries to figure out Trimingham’s position in the social hierarchy. He doesn’t seem especially refined, though he does appear to be above working class. Leo has yet to learn the importance of Trimingham to the Maudsleys.
Themes
Social Class and Hierarchy Theme Icon
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After eating his porridge, Leo returns to his room. Marcus has the symptoms of measles and jokingly complains that if Leo gets it too they’ll miss the cricket match and the ball. These are both annual occasions when the Brandham Hall inhabitants mix with the rest of the villagers, which, Marcus says, “helps to keep them quiet.”
Marcus shows a class-based disdain for the villagers. As he’s so young, it’s safe to assume he’s learnt it from the adults in his life. The working classes are seen as a nuisance that must be appeased—that’s why the Hall organizes the cricket match and ball each year.
Themes
Social Class and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Leo retrieves his prayer book and heads to the front of the house, where some of the others are assembling to go to church. Mrs. Maudsley gives Leo some money so that he can make a donation to the church collection.
Christianity offers Leo an alternative worldview to his zodiac, but there’s no evidence so far that it particularly interests him. But as it’s Sunday and it’s 1900 Britain, going to church is almost compulsory.
Themes
Social Class and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Fate, Myth, and Magic Theme Icon
After waiting for Trimingham, the group starts walking to church. Leo walks with Marian, who asks him if he has any sisters. He reminds her that he already told her about his family when they went to Norwich.
Marian’s forgetfulness shows that her mind wasn’t entirely on Leo during their trip to Norwich—there was something else going on. Leo doesn’t suspect Marian of being dishonest yet.
Themes
Coming of Age and Trauma Theme Icon
Leo notices Trimingham catching up with them and tells Marian. She responds disinterestedly. When Trimingham does catch up, to Leo’s relief he carries on past them.
Marian no longer gives Trimingham her full attention like she did at breakfast—on the walk to church, she’s not under the watchful eye of Mrs. Maudsley.
Themes
Love, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon