Three Men in a Boat

by

Jerome K. Jerome

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Three Men in a Boat can help.

Three Men in a Boat: Chapter 5  Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Mrs. Poppet, the housekeeper, wakes J. and Harris around nine o’clock, thinking they wanted to sleep in. At first, the men are annoyed with one another for letting them sleep late, before remembering it was George who said he’d wake everybody up. He’s still snoring away. J. tells the reader that it annoys him to see another man asleep, as it seems like a waste of life. He and Harris wake up George, who falls into the bath.
The men have ambitions to be early risers, but prove lazy and exhausted by their ineffective packing from the night before. George falling into the bathwater contributes to the feeling that what’s coming is not a relaxing return to nature, but more a comedy of errors.
Themes
Work and Leisure Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Once dressed, the three men sit down to breakfast. George reads the weather forecast from the newspaper and it doesn’t bode well for their trip, predicting rain. J. thinks forecasts are an inaccurate waste of time and is remind of an occasion when this proved especially true.
The forecast warns the men of rain, but they don’t take that as a sign that they should prepare accordingly. J. thinks the weather conspires against him, reinforcing the sense that he has a romantic ideal of nature that, unfortunately for him, all too often fails to manifest.
Themes
The Romanticization of Nature Theme Icon
In this anecdote, J. is on a holiday ruined by inaccurate weather reports. When they predict rain and holidaymakers accordingly stay inside, outdoors is all blazing sunshine. And vice versa: when the forecast says it’s going to be a beautiful day, the holidaymakers go outside in beach clothes only to be thoroughly soaked by rain.
This is further reinforcement that it’s the weather that conspires against J., rather than his own conceptualization of nature. The reader gets more evidence that being at leisure is not as easy as it might seem.
Themes
The Romanticization of Nature Theme Icon
J. goes on to talk about the inefficacy of barometers. In an Oxford hotel, the barometer reads “good weather” even though there is torrential rain outside. The shoe-shiner at the hotel says it just means good weather will come eventually.
For all the technological advances of the day, as far J. can tell it’s still impossible to predict the weather. The shoe-shiner’s response is a fairly hollow assertion—of course at some point the sun will shine again.
Themes
The Romanticization of Nature Theme Icon
Get the entire Three Men in a Boat LitChart as a printable PDF.
Three Men in a Boat PDF
Back in the present, none of the three men believes that the weather will be bad on this trip—it’s too bright and sunny this morning. With breakfast finished, they take their numerous bags to the door. George heads to work.
Going against all the evidence presented in the last two anecdotes, the men decide that just because the weather is good on this particular morning it is going be good throughout the trip.
Themes
The Romanticization of Nature Theme Icon
Harris and J. wait for a taxi to Waterloo station, but none of the taxi cabs seem to want to stop. The men and their bags attract the attention of the boys on the street. The boys mock the men for the amount of stuff they have with them, and the men try to ignore them. With a crowd gathering, a cab finally stops to pick them up.
Despite imploring the reader to reject the “lumber” of life, the men’s packing is excessive and not conducive to a restorative return to nature.The men don’t like being mocked—it creates more embarrassment—and are relieved when someone finally stops for them.
Themes
The Romanticization of Nature Theme Icon
Manners, Etiquette, and Appearances Theme Icon
Harris and J. arrive at Waterloo station, where no staff member seems to know where any of the trains are going. After trying and failing to find the right platform, they bribe a train driver to take them to Kingston where their boat is waiting for them. They arrive at their destination and get on board the vessel that will be their home for the next two weeks.
It’s interesting that the men start from Kingston and intend to head up the river (away from the sea) rather than towards London. By going away from their home town, they think it will be easier to feel a true sense of escape.
Themes
The Romanticization of Nature Theme Icon