The Go-Between

by

L. P. Hartley

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The Go-Between: Chapter 6  Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Now in the church, Leo looks at the memorial stones embedded in the walls and notices that each one is dedicated to the different Viscount Triminghams through the years. He counts seven of them, but wonders why he can’t see the fifth or the ninth Viscount.
The church environment allows Leo’s mind to wander. The Viscounts are clearly important to the church and the wider community, but Leo doesn’t yet conceive of them as real people.
Themes
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Leo suddenly realizes that, as the eighth Viscount died in 1894, the ninth is probably still alive. For him, this brings the whole family “to life”—they no longer seem like “things to be learnt about and forgotten.”
The idea that the ninth Viscount is still alive is enticing to Leo. He’s never met anyone with such a high social standing (and title).
Themes
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As sunlight fills the church, Leo thinks about the Zodiac. He then turns his thoughts to “being good,” which his mother often tells him to be. He doesn’t associate goodness with moral behavior but “abstraction”—“the perfection of the heavenly bodies.”
Leo inherits a rigid moral perspective on the world from his mother, but is starting to outgrow that, and beginning to question just what being “good” actually means. The zodiac is more appealing than morality or religion to him.
Themes
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Fate, Myth, and Magic Theme Icon
The clergyman begins to talk about “miserable sinners.” Leo makes a mental objection to this idea. Even his bullies at school weren’t sinners, he thinks, but just following their nature. Leo doesn’t see how the concept of sin can help anything. His spells would probably make him a sinner, he ponders.
Leo is starting to form an essentialist way of looking at the world: people and things just behave in the way that their nature makes them. This outlines the fundamental conflict of the novel: do the characters have control over what happens, or are they fated by their nature?
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Fate, Myth, and Magic Theme Icon
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But “goodness” as an idea does attract Leo: “I saw it as something bright and positive and sustaining, like the sunshine, something to be adored, but from afar.” He feels the Viscounts and, to a degree, the Maudsleys represent this goodness—“super-adults” who “are a race apart, not governed by the same laws of life as little boys.”
Leo’s idea of goodness is different from his mother’s—his is more aesthetic and less moral. He’s swept up in his new world because he’s never encountered people like the Brandham Hall inhabitants. That’s why they seem “super-human” and displace his old way of seeing the world.
Themes
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Related Quotes
The church service ends and Leo notices Trimingham receiving a lot of attention. On the walk home, Marian heads straight to the front of the group.
Trimingham is evidently of important social standing, though Leo stil doesn’t know why.
Themes
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Trimingham walks beside Leo and introduces himself. Leo calls him Mr. Trimingham, which Trimingham says is wrong—he tells Leo to call him Hugh. Leo asks him whether all men are misters, but Trimingham says that some people have titles like “Doctor or Professor.”
Leo tries to figure out who Trimingham is, and why everyone is treating him with such respect. Trimingham is honorable towards Leo and does not look down on him, even though Leo doesn’t realize who he is.
Themes
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Leo realizes that Trimingham is the ninth Viscount. He asks if he should call him “my Lord,” but Trimingham says there’s no need. Leo is amazed at Trimingham’s willingness to be on such familiar terms.
Leo has only just arrived in the world of the upper classes, so is surprised to be treated so equally by Trimingham. Leo is still learning the behaviors required of him by the class system.
Themes
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Coming of Age and Trauma Theme Icon
Trimingham ask Leo if he is on good terms with Marian. Hearing that he is, he asks if Leo would take a message to her now: she has left her prayer book in church and Trimingham has picked it up.
Trimingham senses an opportunity to get closer to Marian through Leo. The errand he sends Leo on is fairly innocuous, but it sets up the dynamic of Leo doing favors for the adults.
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Leo catches up with Marian and gives her the message. She thanks him and asks Leo to thank Trimingham for her. Trimingham seems a little disappointed at her response.
Trimingham was hoping for a more flirtatious response from Marian, or at least something slightly more affectionate. Marian maintains formality, though, suggesting she is not really interested in Trimingham romantically.
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Love, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
After lunch back at the Hall, Mrs. Maudsley informs Leo that he is to be moved to a new room due to Marcus’s measles. Leo heads to his new room in which all his stuff is already waiting, and changes into his new outfit—“Robin Hood in Lincoln green”—and leaves the house with a “tingling sense of imminent adventure.”
This is an important moment for Leo that confirms his newfound independence. His spirit of adventure makes him want to explore, but also makes him vulnerable to influence.
Themes
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