To the Lighthouse

To the Lighthouse


Virginia Woolf

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To the Lighthouse: The Lighthouse, 10 Summary & Analysis

On the sailboat, Cam feels that Mr. Ramsay’s frustration at her bad sense of direction, James’s insistence on their pact of silence, and her own suffering have all “streamed away.” Cam is suddenly filled with joy. She thinks even the little island she sees from the boat has “a place in the universe,” and thinks Mr. Carmichael or Mr. Bankes could surely tell her for sure from where they sit in the studious, orderly world of the study. She thinks that any idea that can thrive in the study is right. She thinks of how she admires her father’s neat handwriting and wisdom and lovability in the study. She wants to point to her father reading now and show James his goodness, though she knows James would maintain still that Mr. Ramsay is just a brutish tyrant.
Cam’s sudden ecstasy demonstrates the unpredictably changeable nature of interior life. No discrete event has occurred to trigger her joy; it simply arrives. Through the perspective of her happiness, Cam sees the world full of meaning, with each thing occupying a rightful “place.” Cam associates such comfort and knowingness with men and the male environment of her father’s study.
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Cam feels as safe in the boat as she feels in the study with the men around her. She tells herself a story about shipwreck. She thinks, “about here…a ship had sunk…how we perished, each alone.”
The story Cam writes in her head is indirectly inspired by the piece of literature recited by Mr. Ramsay. She uses the same words “how we perished, each alone.”
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