Washington Square


Henry James

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Washington Square: Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

The next day Dr. Sloper speaks with Aunt Penniman, saying that anything she does by way of “giving [Catherine] aid and comfort” in her efforts to see Morris will be “treasonable,” which is “a capital offense.” Aunt Penniman is offended by her brother’s autocratic air. She tries to convince Catherine to stay in bed for several days, knowing that Catherine laid awake grieving all night, but Catherine “[is] really too modest for consistent pathos,” even though she is heartbroken. She writes to Morris and asks to see him the next day.
Though Dr. Sloper tends to use language like “treason” ironically, there’s nevertheless a threat hovering in his words. However, Aunt Penniman isn’t cowed by her brother. She tries to get Catherine to play the part of the heartsick maiden, but that doesn’t fit Catherine’s personality, and she knows it won’t soften her father anyway, showing she’s more perceptive in these matters than her aunt. Despite her sleeplessness and heartbreak, she follows through on her resolution to see Morris again.
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