Washington Square

Washington Square Chapter 33 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Dr. Sloper eventually retires, and one day, to Catherine’s surprise, he asks her to promise that she won’t marry Morris—who has apparently been in New York, and has grown “fat and bald”—after he dies. Catherine seldom thinks of Morris anymore, but she explains that she can’t promise such a thing, to Dr. Sloper’s irritation. Catherine knew “that she was obstinate, and it gave her a certain joy.”
Dr. Sloper is still disproportionately obsessed with Morris, in contrast to Catherine herself, whose life has ceased to be defined by past heartbreak. She resists her father’s request not because of any lingering romantic feelings, but because she refuses to be ordered around as she was in her youth.
Themes
Gaining Independence Theme Icon
Loss and Idealization Theme Icon
Women’s Limited Freedoms Theme Icon
Dr. Sloper later catches a severe cold and dies of congestion of the lungs when he’s about 70 years old. After he dies, it’s discovered that his will consists of two parts—a first part leaving most of his wealth to Catherine, and a second, more recent addendum, reducing Catherine’s inheritance to one-fifth of what it had formerly been. The will explains that Catherine already has more than enough money to attract unscrupulous fortune-hunters. Catherine takes this final insult in stride and doesn’t dispute the will.
Dr. Sloper’s final will adds insult to injury, showing that he still sees Catherine in fundamentally the same position as she was in as a young woman, but Catherine is unperturbed. She has never used much of her substantial fortune and has already come to terms with her father’s feelings about her.
Themes
Gaining Independence Theme Icon
Loss and Idealization Theme Icon
Class, Wealth, and Social Status Theme Icon
Reason, Romanticism, and Blind Spots Theme Icon
Women’s Limited Freedoms Theme Icon