We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Constance is Merricat’s sister, who is older by ten years. She more or less runs the household, as she does all of the cooking and takes care of Uncle Julian and the garden. She loves Merricat deeply and indulges her constantly. Six years before the novel begins, Constance was put on trial for poisoning her family. Though she was acquitted, the trial made her the object of much curiosity and anger, and most people seem to believe that she is, in fact, guilty. Though Merricat is actually the murderer, it seems that Constance isn’t entirely innocent—at the very least, she knew that Merricat was guilty, but remained loyal to her rather than turning her in. Ever since the murders, Constance has been frightened of the outside world and has remained in the house, isolated from almost everyone except for Helen Clarke. Near the opening of the book, though, Constance begins to consider returning to the outside world, and Charles intensifies this possibility by making her see their life through the eyes of an outsider. After the fire, however, Constance commits herself fully to being cut off from the world, and she and Merricat live happily together in isolation.

Constance Blackwood Quotes in We Have Always Lived in the Castle

The We Have Always Lived in the Castle quotes below are all either spoken by Constance Blackwood or refer to Constance Blackwood. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of We Have Always Lived in the Castle published in 2016.
Chapter 1 Quotes

...I wished they were dead. I would have liked to come into the grocery store some morning and see them all, even the Elberts and the children, lying there crying with the pain and dying. I would then help myself to groceries, I thought, stepping over their bodies, taking whatever I fancied from the shelves, and go home, with perhaps a kick for Mrs. Donell while she lay there. I was never sorry when I had thoughts like this; I only wished they would come true. “It’s wrong to hate them,” Constance said, “it only weakens you,” but I hated them anyway....

Related Characters: Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood (speaker), Constance Blackwood (speaker), Mr. Elbert, Mrs. Donell
Related Symbols: Food
Page Number: 8-9
Explanation and Analysis:

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Merricat, said Connie, would you like a cup of tea?
Oh no, said Merricat, you’ll poison me.
Merricat, said Connie, would you like to go to sleep?
Down in the boneyard ten feet deep!

Related Characters: Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood, Constance Blackwood
Related Symbols: Food
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 2 Quotes

She took the groceries carefully from the bags; food of any kind was precious to Constance, and she always touched foodstuffs with quiet respect. I was not allowed to help; I was not allowed to prepare food, nor was I allowed to gather mushrooms, although I sometimes carried vegetables in from the garden, or apples from the old trees.

Related Characters: Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood (speaker), Constance Blackwood
Related Symbols: Food
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

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I must have known what she was going to say, because I was chilled; all this day had been building up to what Helen Clarke was going to say right now. I sat low in my chair and looked hard at Constance, wanting her to get up and run away, wanting her not to hear what was just about to be said, but Helen Clarke went on, “It’s spring, you’re young, you’re lovely, you have a right to be happy. Come back into the world.”

Once, even a month ago when it was still winter, words like that would have made Constance draw back and run away; now, I saw that she was listening and smiling, although she shook her head.

Related Characters: Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood (speaker), Helen Clarke (speaker), Constance Blackwood
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Another child, my niece Mary Katherine, was not at table.”

“She was in her room,” Mrs. Wright said.

“A great child of twelve, sent to bed without her supper. But she need not concern us.”

I laughed, and Constance said to Helen Clarke, “Merricat was always in disgrace. I used to go up the back stairs with a tray of dinner for her after my father had left the dining room. She was a wicked, disobedient child,” and she smiled at me.

“An unhealthy environment,” Helen Clarke said. “A child should be punished for wrongdoing, but she should be made to feel that she is still loved.”

Related Characters: Constance Blackwood (speaker), Uncle Julian Blackwood (speaker), Helen Clarke (speaker), Mrs. Lucille Wright (speaker), Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood
Related Symbols: Food
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

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“First,” she said, “she bought the arsenic.”

“To kill rats,” Constance said to the teapot, and then turned and smiled at me.

... “She cooked the dinner, she set the table.... It was Constance who saw them dying around her like flies—I do beg your pardon—and never called a doctor until it was too late. She washed the sugar bowl.”

“There was a spider in it,” Constance said.

“She told the police those people deserved to die.... She told the police that it was all her fault.”

Related Characters: Constance Blackwood (speaker), Mrs. Lucille Wright (speaker), Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood, Uncle Julian Blackwood
Related Symbols: Food
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 3 Quotes

All the Blackwood women had taken the food that came from the ground and preserved it, and the deeply colored rows of jellies and pickles and bottled vegetables and fruit, maroon and amber and dark rich green, stood side by side in our cellar and would stand there forever, a poem by the Blackwood women. Each year Constance and Uncle Julian and I had jam or preserve or pickle that Constance had made, but we never touched what belonged to the others; Constance said it would kill us if we ate it.

Related Characters: Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood (speaker), Constance Blackwood, Uncle Julian Blackwood
Related Symbols: Food
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

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I ate tiny sweet raw carrots while Constance washed the vegetables and put them away. “We will have a spring salad,” she said.

“We eat the year away. We eat the spring and the summer and the fall. We wait for something to grow and then we eat it.”

Related Characters: Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood (speaker), Constance Blackwood (speaker)
Related Symbols: Food
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes

“Merricat,” Constance said; she turned and looked at me, smiling. “It’s our cousin, our cousin Charles Blackwood. I knew him at once; he looks like Father.”

“Well, Mary,” he said. He stood up; he was taller now that he was inside, bigger and bigger as he came closer to me. “Got a kiss for your cousin Charles?”

Behind him the kitchen door was open wide; he was the first one who had ever gotten inside and Constance had let him in.... I was held tight, wound round with wire, I couldn’t breathe, and I had to run.

Related Characters: Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood (speaker), Constance Blackwood (speaker), Charles Blackwood (speaker)
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 6 Quotes

“In a tree,” he said, and his voice was shaking too. “I found it nailed to a tree, for God’s sake. What kind of a house is this?”

“It’s not important,” Constance said. “Really, Charles, it’s not important.”

“Not important? Connie, this thing’s made of gold.”

“But no one wants it.”

“One of the links is smashed.... what a hell of a way to treat a valuable thing. We could have sold it,” he said to Constance.

“But why?”

Related Characters: Constance Blackwood (speaker), Charles Blackwood (speaker), Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:

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“We should have faced the world and tried to live normal lives; Uncle Julian should have been in a hospital all these years, with good care and nurses to watch him. We should have been living like other people. You should...” She stopped, and waved her hands helplessly. “You should have boy friends,” she said finally, and then began to laugh because she sounded funny even to herself.

Related Characters: Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood (speaker), Constance Blackwood (speaker), Uncle Julian Blackwood, Charles Blackwood
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 7 Quotes

“My niece Mary Katherine has been a long time dead, young man. She did not survive the loss of her family; I supposed you knew that.”

“What?” Charles turned furiously to Constance.

“My niece Mary Katherine died in an orphanage, of neglect, during her sister’s trial for murder. But she is of very little consequence to my book, and so we will have done with her.”

Related Characters: Uncle Julian Blackwood (speaker), Charles Blackwood (speaker), Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood, Constance Blackwood
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Mary Katherine should have anything she wants, my dear. Our most loved daughter must have anything she likes.”

“Constance, your sister lacks butter. Pass it to her at once, please.”

“Mary Katherine, we love you.”

... “Mary Katherine must never be punished. Must never be sent to bed without her dinner. Mary Katherine will never allow herself to do anything inviting punishment.”

“Our beloved, our dearest Mary Katherine must be guarded and cherished. Thomas, give your sister your dinner; she would like more to eat.”

“Dorothy—Julian. Rise when our beloved daughter rises.”

“Bow all your heads to our adored Mary Katherine.”

Related Characters: Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood (speaker), Constance Blackwood, Uncle Julian Blackwood
Related Symbols: Food
Page Number: 95-96
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 8 Quotes

One of our mother’s Dresden figurines is broken, I thought, and I said aloud to Constance, “I am going to put death in all their food and watch them die.”

Constance stirred, and the leaves rustled. “The way you did before?” she asked.

It had never been spoken of between us, not once in six years.

“Yes,” I said after a minute, “the way I did before.”

Related Characters: Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood (speaker), Constance Blackwood (speaker)
Related Symbols: Food
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 9 Quotes

“We are on the moon at last,” I told her, and she smiled.

“I thought I dreamed it all,” she said.

“It really happened,” I said.

“Poor Uncle Julian.”

“They came in the night and took him away, and we stayed here on the moon.”

“I’m glad to be here,” she said. “Thank you for bringing me.”

Related Characters: Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood (speaker), Constance Blackwood (speaker), Uncle Julian Blackwood
Related Symbols: The Moon
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:

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“She certainly wanted her tea,” I said to Constance when I came back to the kitchen.

“We have only two cups with handles,” Constance said. “She will never take tea here again.”

“It’s a good thing Uncle Julian’s gone, or one of us would have to use a broken cup.”

Related Characters: Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood (speaker), Constance Blackwood (speaker), Uncle Julian Blackwood, Helen Clarke
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Will you sleep in there? In Uncle Julian’s bed?”

“No, Merricat. I want you to sleep in there. It’s the only bed we have.”

“I am not allowed in Uncle Julian’s room.”

She was quiet for a minute, looking at me curiously, and then asked, “Even though Uncle Julian’s gone, Merricat?”

Related Characters: Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood (speaker), Constance Blackwood (speaker), Uncle Julian Blackwood
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:

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“I was very wicked,” she said. “I never should have reminded you of why they all died.”

“Then don’t remind me now.” I could not move my hand to reach over and take hers.

“I wanted you to forget about it. I never wanted to speak about it, ever, and I’m sorry I did.”

“I put it in the sugar.”

“I know. I knew then.”

“You never used sugar.”

“No.”

“So I put it in the sugar.”

Constance sighed. “Merricat,” she said, “we’ll never talk about it again. Never.”

I was chilled, but she smiled at me kindly and it was all right.

“I love you, Constance,” I said.

“And I love you, my Merricat.”

Related Characters: Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood (speaker), Constance Blackwood (speaker)
Related Symbols: Food
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 10 Quotes

“I believe the one you are wearing now was used for summer breakfasts on the lawn many years ago. Red and white check would never be used in the dining room, of course.”

“Some days I shall be a summer breakfast on the lawn, and some days I shall be a formal dinner by candlelight, and some days I shall be—”

Related Characters: Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood (speaker), Constance Blackwood (speaker)
Related Symbols: Food
Page Number: 137
Explanation and Analysis:

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“If you let me go this time, you’ll never see me again. I mean it, Connie.... Take a last look,” he said. “I’m going. One word could make me stay.”

I did not think he was going to go in time. I honestly did not know whether Constance was going to be able to contain herself until he got down the steps and safely into the car.... Charles looked back once more, raised his hand sadly, and got into the car. Then Constance laughed, and I laughed... and we held each other in the dark hall and laughed, with the tears running down our cheeks....

“I am so happy,” Constance said at last, gasping. “Merricat, I am so happy.”

“I told you that you would like it on the moon.”

Related Characters: Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood (speaker), Constance Blackwood (speaker), Charles Blackwood (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Moon
Page Number: 144-45
Explanation and Analysis:

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“I wonder if I could eat a child if I had the chance.”

“I doubt if I could cook one,” said Constance.

“Poor strangers,” I said. “They have so much to be afraid of.”

“Well,” Constance said, “I am afraid of spiders.”

“Jonas and I will see to it that no spider ever comes near you. Oh, Constance,” I said, “we are so happy.”

Related Characters: Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood (speaker), Constance Blackwood (speaker), Jonas
Related Symbols: Food
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:

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Get the entire Always Lived in the Castle LitChart as a printable PDF.
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Constance Blackwood Character Timeline in We Have Always Lived in the Castle

The timeline below shows where the character Constance Blackwood appears in We Have Always Lived in the Castle. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...introduces herself as Mary Katherine Blackwood (or Merricat) and says she lives with her sister, Constance. She wishes she had been born a werewolf. She doesn’t like washing herself, dogs, or... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
...one of the terrible days when she had to go to the village, since neither Constance nor Uncle Julian ever went. On the way home she always went into Stella’s café... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Merricat carefully chose library books for herself and Constance. In the evenings, Uncle Julian liked to see Constance reading, and would ask her about... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Constance has made Merricat a shopping list. The villagers hate the fact that the Blackwoods always... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
...insurance money after her husband’s death, but it’s almost the same as when Merricat and Constance used to come here after school. When Merricat enters, Stella greets her and asks after... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...harder. She imagines them crying in pain on the ground. They chant a rhyme about Constance poisoning Merricat with a cup of tea. As Merricat walks past, she hides inside herself... (full context)
Chapter 2
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...the gate behind her. The land is forested, and she knows it better than anyone. Constance never strays past the house and the garden. (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Constance meets Merricat at the end of the garden, teasing that before long she’ll be going... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Uncle Julian is sitting at his desk in the corner of the kitchen. Constance puts the groceries away, since Merricat isn’t allowed to deal with the food. Constance plans... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...on whether the girls’ father had a cigar on the morning he’s studying. Merricat watches Constance put the library books on the shelf, where they’ll stay forever, and prepare the food.... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
...that the sisters’ parents had a fight on the last night, though they rarely fought. Constance says it doesn’t seem like it’s been six years, and she wishes she could have... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
...Helen Clarke’s visits. Their mother always kept the room perfectly, and her portrait hangs there. Constance serves tea just where her mother did. Merricat isn’t allowed to pour the tea. Constance... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Merricat watches at the window. She asks whether Constance is frightened, which Constance denies. When Helen Clarke’s car arrives, there are two people in... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...forces Mrs. Wright to sit in a corner, while she herself sits too close to Constance. They chat about gardening, and only Merricat can see that Constance is nervous. Mrs. Wright... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Helen Clarke says she’s going to give Constance advice, as a friend. Merricat has a bad feeling about this advice. Helen Clarke says... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Merricat realizes that three times today, Constance has mentioned entering the outside world. She begins to panic. She smashes a pitcher on... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
...mother’s drawing room. She brings Mrs. Wright rum cakes to make her unhappy, mentioning that Constance made them. (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...then she imagines her sitting trapped in a tree and screaming. Helen Clarke suggests that Constance might have a dinner party. Merricat says she could ask the villagers, and Helen Clarke... (full context)
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Merricat thinks Constance is beginning to look tired. She hears Uncle Julian coming and opens the door. Helen... (full context)
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...it, but he mentions tasting arsenic and Mrs. Wright wants to know more. Merricat and Constance look somber, but are actually happy that Uncle Julian has an audience. Mrs. Wright can’t... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Constance and Uncle Julian begin to reminisce about what happened. The family was having dinner, and... (full context)
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...to him, because it’s so sensational. He begins to doubt whether it actually happened, but Constance assures him it did. He invites Helen Clarke to see the dining room where it... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...Merricat was not at the table because she had been sent to bed without dinner. Constance says that she would often bring her sister food in her room when she was... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Uncle Julian describes the food that night, much of which came from Constance’s garden. He points out that if Constance wanted to poison them, she could have used... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Uncle Julian says that Constance scrubbed the sugar bowl before the police or the doctor even arrived, which was strange.... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Uncle Julian reminds Mrs. Wright that she’s met Constance, which she’s forgotten. Mrs. Wright can’t reconcile the Constance she’s met with her image of... (full context)
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Constance expresses exasperation with Helen Clarke and points out that Merricat was teasing Mrs. Wright. Merricat... (full context)
Chapter 3
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
Merricat is the only one who can tell that a change is coming, though Constance might suspect it. Merricat watches Constance looking often down the driveway. The day after Helen... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...the past, she’s buried things to make the grass grow or the river run dry. Constance used to give Merricat pretty things to bury, and she also buried her baby teeth.... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
On Saturday mornings, Merricat helps Constance in the garden. Their cellar is filled with jars of food that have been stored... (full context)
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Uncle Julian sometimes has trouble getting up, so Constance always brings him a breakfast tray. On good days, he eats in the kitchen and... (full context)
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Constance brings Uncle Julian his tray, and Merricat hears him ask whether her father is home.... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Later, Constance runs down to the garden to gather vegetables while Merricat listens for Uncle Julian to... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
In the afternoon, Uncle Julian sits outside while Constance gardens. Uncle Julian describes the morning of the poisoning, remembering Constance and her father coming... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
...Uncle Julian sat in the garden with the women, and they talked about music while Constance weeded the vegetables. (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Constance reminds Uncle Julian that her brother was climbing a tree and dropping twigs on them.... (full context)
Chapter 4
Female Power Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
...three magic words. It seems like it might rain. Merricat asks after Uncle Julian, and Constance says that she’s worried he’s getting worse. He thought she was his wife and was... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
As Merricat and Constance have lunch, the approaching man is trying to find a way in past the fence.... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Merricat sees the man coming up the steps and tells Constance to lock the kitchen door, but Constance has gone into Uncle Julian’s room. Merricat leans... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...her away. She imagines him lying dead in the driveway. She goes upstairs to get Constance’s sweater, and when she goes back to the kitchen, Constance has let the man in. (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...says that they were supposed to be safe until someone said her three magic words. Constance introduces Merricat to their cousin, Charles Blackwood. He wants Merricat to greet him with a... (full context)
Chapter 5
Isolation Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Merricat returns to the kitchen to find Constance making Uncle Julian’s breakfast. She says that he’s feeling much better. Merricat says that today... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Merricat and Constance are talking about breakfast and planting leaves when Constance says that Charles is still asleep,... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Constance insists that Charles is in the house, and he’s their cousin. His father wouldn’t let... (full context)
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Constance says they’ll neaten the house after Charles wakes up. She sweeps up the broken glass... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Constance greets Charles in the hall. He and Uncle Julian meet, and Charles reveals that, contrary... (full context)
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...hides in a corner of the kitchen, and when he greets her she ignores him. Constance excuses her behavior, seeming almost as though she’s always expected Charles to appear. Charles asks... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Uncle Julian commends Charles’s chivalry and, finding out that he’s thirty-two, remarks that Constance is approximately twenty-eight. He thinks that Charles is brave for eating Constance’s cooking, but when... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...up if Charles refuses to talk to him, which Charles does. Uncle Julian suddenly needs Constance to confirm that the poisoning really did happen. Merricat is angry with Charles for being... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
...until a drop of water falls from the sink might make Charles go away. When Constance returns, Charles says he’s trying to get to know Merricat, and Constance says she’ll like... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
While Merricat and Constance clean the house, Constance often goes to the window to check on Uncle Julian. She... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...room and Merricat pretends that the ceiling is the floor as she dusts the trim. Constance remarks that she should have already shown Charles this room, and she insists that Merricat... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
The sisters return to the kitchen, where Charles is smoking. When Constance goes outside to get Uncle Julian, Charles tells Jonas that Merricat doesn’t like him and... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
At dinner, Charles watches Constance helping Uncle Julian eat. Merricat doesn’t eat because Constance put dressing on her salad and... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
...offers to fix the broken back step and go into the village for groceries, and Constance is grateful. Charles, however, is concerned to discover that she keeps their money in the... (full context)
Chapter 6
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Constance gives Charles the shopping list and a key to the gate. When she gives him... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
...the tree. He’s enraged that something so valuable would be damaged in such a way. Constance doesn’t think it’s important, and he tries to impress its monetary worth on her. When... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...pipe and tobacco and newspapers lying around. After he’s been there three days, Merricat asks Constance whether he’s mentioned leaving. Constance gets cross when Merricat brings this up, even though she... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
...huge breakfasts in the kitchen, and if Uncle Julian calls from his room, Charles tells Constance she shouldn’t wait on him. Merricat avoids eating breakfast with Charles. She looks in Uncle... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...village, where she sees him sit down with the village men. When she returns home, Constance asks where she’s been and tells her she’s no longer allowed to wander. Constance says... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Later, Merricat goes into the kitchen, where Constance and Uncle Julian are. Uncle Julian demands a box for his papers so that Charles... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
That evening, Constance plays songs that their mother played on the harp in the drawing room. Charles is... (full context)
Chapter 7
Family and Gender Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Merricat decides that Thursday is the day to get rid of Charles. Constance makes spice cookies, which is a shame because they’ll go to waste since it’s the... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Merricat is lying in her room when she hears Charles shouting angrily to Constance outside. He hasn’t managed to mend the step. He’s carrying the silver dollars that Merricat... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Constance goes inside to answer Uncle Julian’s call, and Charles follows. When Charles goes to put... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
...the kitchen. Merricat wonders whether he’ll start squeaking if he shouts long enough, and whether Constance would laugh if he did. He stops shouting when he sees Merricat and says that... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...placed it on the kitchen table. He tells Merricat to listen, and Uncle Julian asks Constance to tell Charles to be quiet, which makes Charles say he’s fed up with Uncle... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Constance looks like she’s going to cry, and Merricat calls Charles evil. He says the house... (full context)
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...to deal with Merricat first. Julian, however, says that Merricat died in the orphanage during Constance’s trial, and she hardly matters to his book. Charles is outraged and points out that... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Constance cleans the dirt off the table while Charles looks baffled, and Merricat thinks Charles is... (full context)
Chapter 8
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
...influence. He’s still angry at her when she goes in, and Merricat can tell that Constance is tired of his anger. Uncle Julian is mashing his food up and eating with... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Merricat goes upstairs and creeps into Charles’s room. Constance has cleaned the dirt out and now it looks very empty, because Merricat moved everything... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...almost forgets to tidy herself before she returns to the dinner table. She requests that Constance make her a cake. When Charles threatens her with the prospect of a long talk,... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
Suddenly Charles smells smoke. Constance checks the kitchen and Charles the hall. He suspects that Merricat is somehow the cause... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Constance helps Uncle Julian to his room while Merricat looks upstairs. She can see the fire... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Merricat guides Constance onto the porch just as fire engines roar into the driveway. Constance covers her face.... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...the back door, but in any case the fire seems confined to the bedrooms upstairs. Constance says that Uncle Julian was more annoyed than frightened, as was Jonas, who went out... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
...someone to help him with the safe. The villagers begin to chant the rhyme about Constance poisoning Merricat. As they approach the sisters’ hiding place, Merricat tells Constance they need to... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
Merricat and Constance have to run through the headlights of the cars to get to the woods. While... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Merricat helps Constance down the steps. Someone sees them and shouts, and then the villagers surround them, pushing... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
...fun is over, because Uncle Julian is dead. The villagers fall silent. Charles asks whether Constance killed him, and the crowd moves away from the sisters. Dr. Levy says that Uncle... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
As Merricat leads Constance to her shelter by the stream, she thinks how glad she is that she can... (full context)
Chapter 9
Female Power Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...burned away the last six years and her family might have returned. Maybe she and Constance will be living in an entirely different house, or maybe she could persuade the fire... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
It’s Helen Clarke’s day to come to tea, but Merricat and Constance will have to straighten the house instead. Merricat decides that in the future she won’t... (full context)
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Constance washes her face in the stream while Merricat folds Uncle Julian’s shawl, which Constance has... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
The ground floor seems unharmed, so Constance opens the kitchen door. Merricat fears this will make the house collapse, but it doesn’t.... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Constance prepares to make breakfast while Merricat begins to look for items that are still intact.... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...have disappeared, so it’s impossible for Merricat to say in what order she does things. Constance thinks she hears Uncle Julian waking, then realizes this is impossible. They sit in the... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
...their shelf, and Merricat thinks this is because anyone who destroyed them would be fined. Constance sits still, staring into the distance, but Merricat says they need to clean up. The... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Constance takes up the figurine and says that everything was her fault. Merricat says she loves... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...air come in from outside. She thinks of the house as a castle with turrets. Constance tells her to come back to the kitchen. (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Merricat and Constance go through the trash on the kitchen floor to find everything that’s still intact, including... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
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...misunderstood the villagers the night before—no one meant them any harm. She wants Merricat and Constance to come to the Clarke house where she can take care of them, but Jim... (full context)
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...be able to see in if she returns. Helen continues to call to them, and Constance gets impatient because her soup is going to boil over. The Clarkes finally return to... (full context)
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Constance asks how they’re going to live a normal life, but Merricat isn’t worried. There’s a... (full context)
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Constance makes an onion pie while Merricat covers the kitchen windows with cardboard so that no... (full context)
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Merricat makes sure the front door is locked. Constance says that tomorrow she’ll clean Uncle Julian’s room so that Merricat can sleep there. However,... (full context)
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...just to know whether they’re safe. He just wants them to say they’re all right. Constance and Merricat are glad to see their safeguards are working. (full context)
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...flowers that have been sent. Merricat doesn’t understand why flowers would make them feel differently. Constance takes a bite of her biscuit, and Merricat has to keep herself from laughing. Jim... (full context)
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Constance apologizes for being wicked the night before and reminding Merricat of why their family died.... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...uneasy, and Merricat wonders if they’ve actually been sent to look for the sisters. When Constance comes to look out at them, Merricat says to pretend they’re just birds, because they’ll... (full context)
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...one morning, Merricat laughs that they’re on the moon, but it’s not as she imagined. Constance thinks it’s a happy place and says they should preserve as much food from the... (full context)
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Constance cleans Uncle Julian’s room. She keeps his papers in their box and puts it down... (full context)
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Constance discovers two suits in Uncle Julian’s room. She barely remembers him going to buy a... (full context)
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Constance laughs and gets tablecloths out of the pantry. She says Merricat can wear those, and... (full context)
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Merricat convinces Constance to wheel Uncle Julian’s chair out to add to the barricade. Merricat can no longer... (full context)
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...when they finish dinner, they bring the basket inside. The food is still warm, and Constance imagines the woman making it. She says she must wash the napkins before they put... (full context)
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...Sometimes there are notes in the baskets apologizing for breaking different household items. Merricat and Constance never retrieve the baskets until they can be sure no one is around. (full context)
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...go to the creek anymore because Uncle Julian is there and it’s too far from Constance. She’s also not allowed to bury anything or touch stone. She repairs the boards over... (full context)
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...Merricat remembers the first time Charles came, thinking that this time he won’t get in. Constance knows it too. The strange man asks whether the sisters are inside, and Charles says... (full context)
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The man hides behind the car and Charles calls out to Constance. Merricat can tell that she now sees Charles for what he is. Charles says he... (full context)
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...the sisters shut themselves up in the house. He really does want to talk to Constance. He says the man could get pictures of him with the house, but the man... (full context)
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...dining room are shut up, different parts of the house become important to the sisters. Constance is always afraid that one of the two cups with handles will break. They wear... (full context)
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...The sisters think that people will start calling the path Lover’s Lane, perhaps after Charles. Constance says Charles should have shot himself in the head in the driveway. They learn that... (full context)