Washington Square


Henry James

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Washington Square: Chapter 34 Summary & Analysis

One summer evening some years later, Aunt Penniman surprises Catherine with the news that she’s lately seen Morris at Marian’s house. She says that Morris is much changed and has not been successful in life; his “evil star was against him,” he claims. He had been briefly married to a European lady and is now a widower. He wishes to see Catherine again, calling her “the real romance of his life.” Catherine is shocked by this and weeps silently, surprised at the force of emotions she had thought were long buried.
Aunt Penniman stirs up the two ladies’ comfortable spinsterhood with news of Morris. Morris seems to avoid blaming himself for any misfortunes in his life. If Aunt Penniman reports his words accurately—though it’s possible she infuses them with extra romance and drama—he also still has some feelings for Catherine after all these years. Though Catherine has happily moved on, the stirred-up emotions take her by surprise.
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