We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood Character Analysis

Merricat narrates the novel. Though she is eighteen during the events she describes, she often acts much younger, smashing things when she’s upset and getting lost in her reveries of living on the moon. At the same time, she has a cold-blooded violent streak; she poisoned most of her family when she was twelve by putting arsenic in the sugar bowl one night when they sent her to bed without her supper. In an attempt to exercise her will over the world, Merricat practices what can best be described as witchcraft. She buries objects all over the Blackwood property as safeguards, and she tries to force Charles to leave by wiping out all signs of his presence in the house and smashing mirrors. Furthermore, Merricat follows a number of rules concerning what she can touch and where she can go. Though the reader might initially assume that Constance has set these rules, it later becomes clear that Merricat has set them herself. Though Merricat shows almost no outward remorse for murdering her family, the nature of these rules suggests that she might feel more guilt than she lets on.

Mary Katherine “Merricat” 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 Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood or refer to Mary Katherine “Merricat” 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:
Female Power Theme Icon
). 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

I brushed the saucer and the pipe off the table into the wastebasket and they fell softly on to the newspapers he had brought into the house.

I was wondering about my eyes; one of my eyes—the left—saw everything golden and yellow and orange, and the other eye saw shades of blue and grey and green; perhaps one eye was for daylight and the other was for night. If everyone in the world saw different colors from different eyes there might be a great many colors still to be invented.

Related Characters: Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood (speaker), Charles Blackwood
Page Number: 99-100
Explanation and Analysis:

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Very carefully he put up his hands and took off his hat saying CHIEF and while everyone watched he walked slowly down the steps and over to the fire engine and set his hat down on the front seat. Then he bent down, searching thoughtfully, and finally, while everyone watched, he took up a rock. In complete silence he turned slowly and then raised his arm and smashed the rock through one of the tall windows of our mother’s drawing room. A wall of laughter rose and grew behind him and then, first the boys on the steps and then the other men and at last the women and the smaller children, they moved like a wave at our house.

Related Characters: Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood (speaker), Jim Donell
Page Number: 106-106
Explanation and Analysis:

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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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I could feel a breath of air on my cheek; it came from the sky I could see, but it smelled of smoke and ruin. Our house was a castle, turreted and open to the sky.

Related Characters: Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood (speaker)
Page Number: 120
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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Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood Character Timeline in We Have Always Lived in the Castle

The timeline below shows where the character Mary Katherine “Merricat” 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
The narrator introduces herself as Mary Katherine Blackwood (or Merricat) and says she lives with her sister, Constance. She wishes she had been born a... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Merricat recalls that she got the library books on one of the terrible days when she... (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... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Wealthy people like the Clarkes and the Carringtons live outside the village, and Merricat doesn’t understand why the villagers are friendly towards them but not towards the Blackwoods. Village... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
When Merricat does the shopping, she pretends she’s playing a board game in which various circumstances make... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
When Merricat crosses the street, local drivers always give her dirty looks. She imagines that if she... (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 have enough money,... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Merricat tells Mr. Elbert which food items she needs. When she mentions Uncle Julian and sugar,... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
As Merricat leaves the store, she hears the shoppers behind her preparing to go about their business... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
There’s a crack in the sidewalk in front of Stella’s café. Merricat remembers roller-skating and bicycling over it when the villagers didn’t yet express hatred of her... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
...with the 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... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Merricat only comes to the café for reasons of pride, so she orders black coffee even... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Stella tells Jim Donell to leave Merricat alone, but he continues wondering aloud why the villagers are saying that the Blackwoods are... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Jim Donell remarks on the Blackwoods’ isolated way of life. Merricat knows that he could go on talking for a while. She imagines she lives on... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Stella tells Merricat that she should go home. Jim Donell lets her get off her stool, saying they’ll... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Merricat realizes the Harris boys are in their yard, but she doesn’t want to have to... (full context)
Chapter 2
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Merricat goes through the gate to the path on her family’s property. Before her father closed... (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 all the... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
...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 their lunch, remarking how happy she... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...any information 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... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
Merricat teases that the Carringtons might bring her a horse if she asked, then says she... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
...room perfectly, and her portrait hangs there. Constance serves tea just where her mother did. Merricat isn’t allowed to pour the tea. Constance sets the table as usual for this visit,... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Merricat watches at the window. She asks whether Constance is frightened, which Constance denies. When Helen... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...corner, while she herself sits too close to Constance. They chat about gardening, and only Merricat can see that Constance is nervous. Mrs. Wright says she would love to meet Uncle... (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 that Constance should return to... (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... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
Merricat brings a cup of tea to Mrs. Wright, whose hand shakes when she takes it.... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Helen Clarke eats numerous sandwiches. Merricat believes that Helen Clarke thinks she can act however she likes because the sisters are... (full context)
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Merricat thinks Constance is beginning to look tired. She hears Uncle Julian coming and opens the... (full context)
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...talking about 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.... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...family, but they feel they must keep it. He says the family was generally happy. Merricat wonders what Mrs. Wright would do if she met her in the village. Uncle Julian... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...with her image of the murderer. Helen Clarke finally tells Mrs. Wright that she’s leaving. Merricat points out that Mrs. Wright hasn’t drunk any of her tea. The guests say their... (full context)
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Constance expresses exasperation with Helen Clarke and points out that Merricat was teasing Mrs. Wright. Merricat says she always wants to increase the terror of frightened... (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... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
When Merricat doesn’t have to go into the village, she does her work. On Wednesday mornings she... (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... (full context)
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...he dies, someone who isn’t too worried about truth must write his book for him. Merricat hopes that this morning he’ll be able to sit in the garden. She tells Constance... (full context)
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Constance brings Uncle Julian his tray, and Merricat hears him ask whether her father is home. At first, Uncle Julian thinks that Constance... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Later, Constance runs down to the garden to gather vegetables while Merricat listens for Uncle Julian to awaken. A little after eleven, Constance goes to her room.... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...since he has too many details to write down about the day of the poisoning. Merricat and Jonas follow them inside. Merricat asks whether Constance will take care of her when... (full context)
Chapter 4
Female Power Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
On Sunday morning, Merricat feels the change coming nearer, but she refuses to think her three magic words. It... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
Merricat and Jonas go to the long field, where the grass is moving like an ocean... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Merricat kills a nest of baby snakes because she doesn’t like them. On her way home,... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
As Merricat and Constance have lunch, the approaching man is trying to find a way in past... (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,... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Merricat knows that the man will look for a face in the upstairs windows, and then... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Merricat says that they were supposed to be safe until someone said her three magic words.... (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... (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... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
...he didn’t like them, but as soon as his father died, Charles came to them. Merricat says he can’t help them because they’re already happy, and she feels better because she... (full context)
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...they’ll neaten the house after Charles wakes up. She sweeps up the broken glass while Merricat eats breakfast. Constance brings Uncle Julian to his papers in the kitchen, and he says... (full context)
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Merricat can’t see Charles clearly, either because of his size or because he’s a ghost. She... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...Charles does. Uncle Julian suddenly needs Constance to confirm that the poisoning really did happen. Merricat is angry with Charles for being cruel to Uncle Julian. Constance takes Julian outside into... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Jonas sits in the doorway. Charles tells Jonas that Merricat doesn’t like him, and asks how he can make her like him. Merricat wonders if... (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... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Next, the sisters dust the drawing room and Merricat pretends that the ceiling is the floor as she dusts the trim. Constance remarks that... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
...Charles is smoking. When Constance goes outside to get Uncle Julian, Charles tells Jonas that Merricat doesn’t like him and wonders whether she knows how he gets back at people who... (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 because Charles is there. Charles... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
...that she keeps their money in the house, in their father’s safe. He says that Merricat will have to find another job, now that he’s going into town. Merricat begins to... (full context)
Chapter 6
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
...grocery money, he protests that it isn’t safe to keep the money in the house. Merricat waits till he’s gone, then tells Constance he forgot the library books because he doesn’t... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Merricat goes to her father’s room to look for a magic object to use against Charles.... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
...need to figure out how the chain got on the tree, Constance tells him that Merricat put it there, like she always does. Charles looks closely at Merricat. When Constance helps... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Merricat decides that the next step is to ask Charles politely to leave, before he leaves... (full context)
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Merricat goes outside to ask Charles to leave. She tries to be kind to him in... (full context)
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Merricat has been doing a better job of being kind to Uncle Julian. Charles hates watching... (full context)
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One afternoon, Merricat follows Charles to the edge of the village, where she sees him sit down with... (full context)
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Merricat goes to look for Jonas, and Charles returns with a scarf that Merricat had used... (full context)
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Later, Merricat goes into the kitchen, where Constance and Uncle Julian are. Uncle Julian demands a box... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Merricat decides that Thursday is the day to get rid of Charles. Constance makes spice cookies,... (full context)
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The night before, Merricat brought baskets of wood and leaves in from outside. Now she takes her father’s things... (full context)
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Merricat is lying in her room when she hears Charles shouting angrily to Constance outside. He... (full context)
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...call, and Charles follows. When Charles goes to put the silver dollars in the safe, Merricat runs outside. She considers turning Charles into a fly in a spider web or trapping... (full context)
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Merricat cleans out her shelter because Charles was so close to it. She returns home when... (full context)
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...sticks and dirt from his room and placed it on the kitchen table. He tells Merricat to listen, and Uncle Julian asks Constance to tell Charles to be quiet, which makes... (full context)
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Constance looks like she’s going to cry, and Merricat calls Charles evil. He says the house is crazy, and Constance tries to pacify him... (full context)
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Uncle Julian tells Charles to be quiet, and Charles says he has to deal with Merricat first. Julian, however, says that Merricat died in the orphanage during Constance’s trial, and she... (full context)
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Constance cleans the dirt off the table while Charles looks baffled, and Merricat thinks Charles is becoming trapped. Constance tells him to go rest, but he says Merricat... (full context)
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A while later, Merricat goes to the summerhouse her father had built, which she hasn’t visited for six years.... (full context)
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Merricat imagines her family’s conversation. They say she should have anything she wants. They all love... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Merricat can’t let the family eat dinner without her. When she returns, she and Jonas stand... (full context)
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Merricat goes upstairs and creeps into Charles’s room. Constance has cleaned the dirt out and now... (full context)
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Merricat brushes the pipe and the saucer into the wastebasket, and they fall onto newspaper. One... (full context)
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Suddenly Charles smells smoke. Constance checks the kitchen and Charles the hall. He suspects that Merricat is somehow the cause of the smoke, but then Constance reminds him of his pipe,... (full context)
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Constance helps Uncle Julian to his room while Merricat looks upstairs. She can see the fire in her father’s room. The fire doesn’t seem... (full context)
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Merricat guides Constance onto the porch just as fire engines roar into the driveway. Constance covers... (full context)
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Someone asks where the sisters and Uncle Julian are, but Charles says they’re fine. Merricat thinks Uncle Julian must have gotten out the back door, but in any case the... (full context)
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Merricat can’t distinguish any faces in the crowd in the yard. She thinks of the fire... (full context)
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Merricat is tired and hungry and wonders how long the firemen will make the fire last,... (full context)
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...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 run, but... (full context)
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Merricat and Constance have to run through the headlights of the cars to get to the... (full context)
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Merricat helps Constance down the steps. Someone sees them and shouts, and then the villagers surround... (full context)
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...Uncle Julian’s heart failed. Jim Clarke pushes the villagers towards their cars, and they go. Merricat pulls Constance into the trees. No one sees them. When they reach the path Merricat... (full context)
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As Merricat leads Constance to her shelter by the stream, she thinks how glad she is that... (full context)
Chapter 9
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During the night, Merricat hears an ambulance take Uncle Julian away. People call for the sisters, but no one... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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Constance washes her face in the stream while Merricat folds Uncle Julian’s shawl, which Constance has been wearing. Merricat has never touched the shawl... (full context)
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The ground floor seems unharmed, so Constance opens the kitchen door. Merricat fears this will make the house collapse, but it doesn’t. Constance can hardly bear the... (full context)
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Constance prepares to make breakfast while Merricat begins to look for items that are still intact. Constance brings food up from the... (full context)
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Merricat puts three unbroken chairs around the table and drinks chicken soup. Time and orderly days... (full context)
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The library books are still sitting on their shelf, and Merricat thinks this is because anyone who destroyed them would be fined. Constance sits still, staring... (full context)
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Constance takes up the figurine and says that everything was her fault. Merricat says she loves her and requests a cake for herself and Jonas. Constance says she’s... (full context)
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...opened it. They close the drawing room door, and no one ever goes in again. Merricat closes the shutters over the dining room windows, and then they lock the front door... (full context)
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Merricat and Constance go through the trash on the kitchen floor to find everything that’s still... (full context)
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...door, and they run into the cellar. Helen Clarke begins to call their names outside. Merricat wonders if she has come for tea. She comes around to knock on the kitchen... (full context)
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Merricat thinks they’ll have to cover the kitchen window so Helen Clarke won’t be able 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 dirty mattress on the stairs, and they pull it out onto... (full context)
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Constance makes an onion pie while Merricat covers the kitchen windows with cardboard so that no one can see in. She says... (full context)
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Merricat makes sure the front door is locked. Constance says that tomorrow she’ll clean Uncle Julian’s... (full context)
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A car stops in front of the house. Merricat makes sure the kitchen door is locked. There’s a knocking at the front door, but... (full context)
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...feel differently about their friends if they saw all the flowers that have been sent. Merricat doesn’t understand why flowers would make them feel differently. Constance takes a bite of her... (full context)
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Constance apologizes for being wicked the night before and reminding Merricat of why their family died. Merricat is chilled and tells her not to remind her... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...the sisters develop a pattern for their days and create a happy life. Every morning Merricat makes sure the front door is locked. Now that the gates to the path are... (full context)
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One night Merricat barricades the sides of the house with pieces of junk. If anyone tries to get... (full context)
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During breakfast one morning, Merricat laughs that they’re on the moon, but it’s not as she imagined. Constance thinks it’s... (full context)
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...and puts it down in the cellar for safekeeping, as she thinks he would want. Merricat goes to check the front door. Whenever she does this, the children are playing on... (full context)
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...suits in Uncle Julian’s room. She barely remembers him going to buy a suit once. Merricat asks what he would have been wearing on the night of the poisoning, because he... (full context)
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Constance laughs and gets tablecloths out of the pantry. She says Merricat can wear those, and Merricat is pleased. However, Constance has no sewing materials, so Merricat... (full context)
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Merricat convinces Constance to wheel Uncle Julian’s chair out to add to the barricade. Merricat can... (full context)
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...the food. 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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Merricat discovers that she’s not allowed to go to the creek anymore because Uncle Julian is... (full context)
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...Charles arrives in a car with another man. They walk up to the steps, and Merricat remembers the first time Charles came, thinking that this time he won’t get in. Constance... (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 wants... (full context)
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...man wants to leave, and Charles tells Constance that he’s never going to come back. Merricat is afraid he’s not going to leave quickly enough for Constance to contain herself. He... (full context)
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...They wear Uncle Julian’s clothes and the tablecloths. There are always flowers on the table. Merricat is no longer allowed to go to the field, and she feels that the safeguards... (full context)
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...a dare, someone leaves a basket of food with a note of apology that night. Merricat wonders if she could eat a child, but Constance said she probably couldn’t cook one.... (full context)