The Way Up to Heaven

by

Roald Dahl

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Mr. Eugene Foster Character Analysis

Mr. Foster, whose first name is Eugene, is a domineering, cunning, and abrasive man who has retired from his “many enterprises,” which allowed him to afford a private six-story house in Manhattan with several servants. He is generally unkind to his wife, often ordering her around, calling her “foolish” or “stupid,” or speaking to her in a condescending tone. He is indifferent to his daughter and grandchildren, and to his wife’s obvious distress at potentially arriving late for things. He refuses to allow the servants to continue their upkeep of the house in the couple’s absence, because it would cost him more money, and he suspects they might get up to untoward things without them there, revealing his classist nature. The extent of his cruelty is clearest when Mrs. Foster finds that he hid the gift for their daughter in the seat of the car to purposely make her late for her flight to Paris, and his death, though gruesome, is justified.

Mr. Eugene Foster Quotes in The Way Up to Heaven

The The Way Up to Heaven quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Eugene Foster or refer to Mr. Eugene Foster. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Cruelty and Revenge Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Way Up to Heaven published in 1990.
The Way Up to Heaven Quotes

At least half an hour before it was time to leave the house for the station, Mrs. Foster would step out of the elevator all ready to go, with hat and coat and gloves, and then, being quite unable to sit down, she would flutter and fidget about from room to room until her husband, who must have been well aware of her state, finally emerged from his privacy and suggested in a cool dry voice that perhaps they had better be going now, had they not? …His timing was so accurate - just a minute or two late, you understand - and his manner so bland that it was hard to believe he wasn’t purposely inflicting a nasty private little torture of his own on the unhappy lady.

Related Characters: Mrs. Foster, Mr. Eugene Foster
Explanation and Analysis:

And now, lately, she had come more and more to feel that she did not really wish to live out her days in a place where she could not be near these children, and have them visit her, and take them out for walks, and buy them presents, and watch them grow. She knew, of course, that it was wrong and in a way disloyal to have thoughts like these while her husband was still alive.

Related Characters: Mrs. Foster, Mr. Eugene Foster
Explanation and Analysis:

“But don’t you really think Walker should stay there all the time to look after things?” she asked meekly.

“Nonsense. It’s quite unnecessary. And anyway, I’d have to pay him full wages.”

“Oh yes,” she said. “Of course.”

“What’s more, you never know what people get up to when they’re left alone in a house,” Mr. Foster announced, and with that he took out a cigar and, after snipping off the end with a silver cutter, lit it with a gold lighter.

Related Characters: Mrs. Foster (speaker), Mr. Eugene Foster (speaker)
Explanation and Analysis:

She couldn’t be sure, but it seemed to her that there was suddenly a new note in his voice, and she turned to look at him… She glanced at him again, and this time she noticed with a kind of horror that he was staring intently at the little place in the corner of her left eye where she could feel the muscle twitching.

Related Characters: Mrs. Foster, Mr. Eugene Foster
Explanation and Analysis:

“In that case, dear, I’ll just get myself a room somewhere for the night. And don’t you bother yourself about it at all.”

“That would be foolish,” he said. “You’ve got a large house here at your disposal. Use it.”

“But, dear, it’s empty.”

“Then I’ll stay with you myself.”

“There’s no food in the house. There’s nothing.”

“Then eat before you come in. Don’t be so stupid, woman. Everything you do, you seem to want to make a fuss about it.”

Related Characters: Mrs. Foster (speaker), Mr. Eugene Foster (speaker)
Explanation and Analysis:

“No,” he said slowly. “I don’t think I will. But there’s no reason why you shouldn’t drop me at the club on your way.”

She looked at him, and at that moment he seemed to be standing a long way off from her, beyond some borderline. He was suddenly so small and far away that she couldn’t be sure what he was doing, or what he was thinking, or even what he was.

Related Characters: Mr. Eugene Foster (speaker), Mrs. Foster
Explanation and Analysis:

At this point, Mrs. Foster suddenly spotted a corner of something white wedged down in the crack of the seat on the side where her husband had been sitting. She reached over and pulled out a small paper-wrapped box, and at the same time she couldn’t help noticing that it was wedged down firm and deep, as though with the help of a pushing hand.

Related Characters: Mrs. Foster, Mr. Eugene Foster
Explanation and Analysis:

Once a week, on Tuesdays, she wrote a letter to her husband, a nice, chatty letter—full of news and gossip, which always ended with the words “Now be sure to take your meals regularly, dear, although this is something I’m afraid you may not be doing when I’m not with you.”

Related Characters: Mrs. Foster, Mr. Eugene Foster
Explanation and Analysis:

“Hello,” she said. “Listen - this is Nine East Sixty-second Street…Yes, that’s right. Could you send someone round as soon as possible, do you think? Yes, it seems to be stuck between the second and third floors. At least, that’s where the indicator’s pointing…Right away? Oh, that’s very kind of you. You see, my legs aren’t any too good for walking up a lot of stairs. Thank you so much. Good-bye.”

She replaced the receiver and sat there at her husband’s desk, patiently waiting for the man who would be coming soon to repair the lift.

Related Characters: Mrs. Foster (speaker), Mr. Eugene Foster
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Way Up to Heaven LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Way Up to Heaven PDF

Mr. Eugene Foster Character Timeline in The Way Up to Heaven

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Eugene Foster appears in The Way Up to Heaven. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Way Up to Heaven
Cruelty and Revenge Theme Icon
...half hour before leaving for anything, Mrs. Foster emerges fully ready and frets until her husband, Mr. Foster, (“who must have been well aware of her state”) is ready to go. (full context)
Cruelty and Revenge Theme Icon
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Deception and Disloyalty Theme Icon
While it’s reasonable that Mr. Foster might be irritated by Mrs. Foster’s nervousness, it’s not an excuse for deliberately making her... (full context)
Cruelty and Revenge Theme Icon
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Deception and Disloyalty Theme Icon
...such a good and modest woman that she hasn’t allowed herself to believe that her husband could be torturing her on purpose, but more recently, she has found herself beginning to... (full context)
Cruelty and Revenge Theme Icon
Propriety and Class Theme Icon
Mr. Foster and his wife live in a six-story house in Manhattan with four servants. Normally, the... (full context)
Cruelty and Revenge Theme Icon
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
...grandchildren of whom she has only seen pictures. It took her months to persuade her husband to “allow” her to go, and she fears that if she misses the plane he... (full context)
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Deception and Disloyalty Theme Icon
...them presents, and watch them grow. But this would involve living in Paris and her husband would never agree, so she dismisses this these thoughts as disloyal. (full context)
Cruelty and Revenge Theme Icon
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Deception and Disloyalty Theme Icon
Finally, Mr. Foster emerges and says casually that they should probably get going. Mrs. Foster replies that the... (full context)
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Propriety and Class Theme Icon
As they drive, Mr. Foster says that he arranged everything with the servants, giving them half-pay for six weeks, and... (full context)
Cruelty and Revenge Theme Icon
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Deception and Disloyalty Theme Icon
...resign herself to missing her flight, and Mrs. Foster notices to her horror that her husband is staring at the place where her eye twitches. (full context)
Cruelty and Revenge Theme Icon
...they keep driving, guided by the driver’s single yellow lamp, and then they finally stop. Mr. Foster cries that they must be stuck, but the driver tells them they are at the... (full context)
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Propriety and Class Theme Icon
Mrs. Foster runs back to tell her husband the news and they agree that there’s no point in him staying. He says goodbye... (full context)
Cruelty and Revenge Theme Icon
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Propriety and Class Theme Icon
Deception and Disloyalty Theme Icon
Mrs. Foster wants to get a hotel, presumably near the airport, but her husband tells her to use their house. He insists on staying with her, browbeating her for... (full context)
Cruelty and Revenge Theme Icon
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Propriety and Class Theme Icon
Deception and Disloyalty Theme Icon
Mrs. Foster arrives home, tells her husband of her new departure time, and that the weather is clearing. Mr. Foster says he... (full context)
Cruelty and Revenge Theme Icon
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Propriety and Class Theme Icon
Deception and Disloyalty Theme Icon
The next morning, Mrs. Foster is again ready long before nine, but her husband does not appear until just after the hour. He asks about coffee and her luggage,... (full context)
Cruelty and Revenge Theme Icon
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Propriety and Class Theme Icon
Deception and Disloyalty Theme Icon
...Mrs. Foster asks the driver to please hurry. Just as they are about to leave, Mr. Foster stops the driver. He claims he can’t find the small gift, a white paper box... (full context)
Cruelty and Revenge Theme Icon
Deception and Disloyalty Theme Icon
...down in the crack of the seat and realizes it is the gift that her husband was talking about, but it seems awfully deep in the crack of the seat to... (full context)
Cruelty and Revenge Theme Icon
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Deception and Disloyalty Theme Icon
...down the steps, telling the driver it’s too late and she has to go. Her husband will get a cab to the club. Her whole attitude seems to have changed, becoming... (full context)
Cruelty and Revenge Theme Icon
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Deception and Disloyalty Theme Icon
...buying them presents, telling them stories, and taking them for walks. She writes to her husband every Tuesday, reminding him to eat his meals regularly. After six weeks, she returns, but... (full context)