The war is over and peace declared. Lily falls asleep at the summerhouse listening to the sea. Through the window murmurs “the voice of the beauty of the world” calling sleepers to look at the beach, at the gentle, tender, soothing night. Closing his book, Mr. Carmichael notes that everything looks just like it used to. In the morning, Lily wakes up clutching the blanket as if it were the edge of a cliff. “Here she was again, she thought, sitting bolt upright…Awake.”
Back in peacetime, the sounds of the sea are soothing rather than threatening. Once again, humans can misread nature as a beautiful mirror for their own aesthetic inclinations. Mr. Carmichael does not perceive the vast transformations the summerhouse has undergone over the past decade. Lily’s terror suggests that there is something alarming about existence itself, even in a comfortable bed in peacetime.