We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Uncle Julian Blackwood Character Analysis

Uncle Julian is the brother of Merricat and Constance’s father. He was present at the dinner when the rest of the family was poisoned, and though he did eat some of the poisoned sugar, it was a small enough quantity that he survived. However, the arsenic he ingested has made him an invalid and damaged his memory. He lives with Merricat and Constance, and Constance takes care of him. Even though he sees Merricat every day, he believes that she died in the orphanage where she was sent during Constance’s trial. Ever since the poisoning, Uncle Julian has been obsessed with the story of it. Whenever he feels well enough, he cheerfully busies himself with his notes about the murders. He’s writing a book concerning every detail of what happened. He feels very lucky to have been involved in such a sensational case, and loves nothing more than to talk about the poisoning. However, Julian’s faulty memory means that he sometimes doubts whether the murders even happened, throwing into doubt everything that he says about the family’s backstory. In fact, he seems notably unconcerned with telling the truth about the poisoning, and he sometimes makes up what he can’t find out for sure. Uncle Julian acts as the reader’s main source of the backstory that so heavily influences the current action of the plot, but his account can never be entirely trusted. Eventually, Uncle Julian’s heart fails when the house catches on fire, and he dies.

Uncle Julian 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 Uncle Julian Blackwood or refer to Uncle Julian 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 2 Quotes

“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 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 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 Symbols: Food
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 5 Quotes

“I really think I shall commence chapter forty-four,” he said, patting his hands together. “I shall commence, I think, with a slight exaggeration and go on from there into an outright lie.”

Related Characters: Uncle Julian Blackwood (speaker)
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 6 Quotes

“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.

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.”

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 Symbols: Food
Page Number: 95-96
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 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.”

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?”

Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:
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Uncle Julian Blackwood Character Timeline in We Have Always Lived in the Castle

The timeline below shows where the character Uncle Julian 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
Isolation Theme Icon
...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 for coffee because,... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
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Merricat carefully chose library books for herself and Constance. In the evenings, Uncle Julian liked to see Constance reading, and would ask her about her book. The last morning... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
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Merricat tells Mr. Elbert which food items she needs. When she mentions Uncle Julian and sugar, the people in the store react with horror. Mrs. Donell mentions that the... (full context)
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...come here after school. When Merricat enters, Stella greets her and asks after Constance and Uncle Julian . Stella is slightly kinder than the other villagers. (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
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...Merricat tears apart a paper napkin and wishes death on him. She thinks of how Uncle Julian is dying, and she mentally promises to be kinder to him. (full context)
Chapter 2
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Uncle Julian is sitting at his desk in the corner of the kitchen. Constance puts the groceries... (full context)
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The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Uncle Julian says he doesn’t have any information on whether the girls’ father had a cigar on... (full context)
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Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
...she really only wants a winged horse, so that they could fly to the moon. Uncle Julian says that the sisters’ parents had a fight on the last night, though they rarely... (full context)
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The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...Merricat can see that Constance is nervous. Mrs. Wright says she would love to meet Uncle Julian , and Helen Clarke says he’s eccentric, though Merricat thinks Helen is far more eccentric. (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 Clarke asks whether people would be afraid to visit... (full context)
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Uncle Julian remarks on how fascinating the case is. Helen Clarke tries to stop him from talking... (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 there was arsenic... (full context)
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Uncle Julian says he feels lucky that the poisoning happened to him, because it’s so sensational. He... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Uncle Julian takes Mrs. Wright into the dining room. He remarks that the table is now far... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
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The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Uncle Julian describes the food that night, much of which came from Constance’s garden. He points out... (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,... (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... (full context)
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...Wright. Merricat says she always wants to increase the terror of frightened people. Constance applauds Uncle Julian ’s performance. He says he’ll rest until dinner. Merricat brings the tea tray to the... (full context)
Chapter 3
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
...it. Merricat watches Constance looking often down the driveway. The day after Helen Clarke’s visit, Uncle Julian stays in bed, and Jonas is restless, often running all over the house. That morning... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...clothes in the attic. On Mondays, the sisters neaten the house. Merricat isn’t allowed into Uncle Julian ’s room. (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... (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... (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. Merricat opens the front... (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... (full context)
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Uncle Julian recalls that he was still strong in those days and could dress himself. He lists... (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. Uncle Julian says... (full context)
Chapter 4
Female Power Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
...to think her 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... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...the steps and tells Constance to lock the kitchen door, but Constance has gone into Uncle Julian ’s room. Merricat leans against the front door while the man knocks and calls for... (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 she’s going... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
...already happy, and she feels better because she can drive him away. Constance explains that Uncle Julian hasn’t seen Charles yet, because he wasn’t well the night before. (full context)
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...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 he’s going to begin his next... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Constance greets Charles in the hall. He and Uncle Julian meet, and Charles reveals that, contrary to Uncle Julian’s expectations, his father left no money... (full context)
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...him. Charles says they’ll all be friends. He decides he’ll have pancakes for breakfast. When Uncle Julian ’s papers fall, Charles picks them up. (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.... (full context)
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The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Uncle Julian decides to return to an earlier chapter in which he discussed Charles’s family. Charles, however,... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...Merricat and Constance clean the house, Constance often goes to the window to check on Uncle Julian . She says they won’t clean their father’s room, since Charles is staying there, and... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
...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 wonders whether she knows how... (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... (full context)
Chapter 6
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
...put it there, like she always does. Charles looks closely at Merricat. When Constance helps Uncle Julian into bed for a nap, Charles asks Jonas what Merricat would do if Constance didn’t... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...this up, even though she was never cross with Merricat before. Merricat says Charles makes Uncle Julian sicker, and Constance says that Uncle Julian shouldn’t think about the gloomy past so much.... (full context)
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Merricat has been doing a better job of being kind to Uncle Julian . Charles hates watching Uncle Julian eat and says he should wear a bib. Charles... (full context)
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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 can’t touch them.... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
...Charles is restless while he listens, but doesn’t dare put his feet on the furniture. Uncle Julian says all the Blackwood women had a delicate touch. Charles takes a Dresden figurine off... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Constance goes inside to answer Uncle Julian ’s call, and Charles follows. When Charles goes to put the silver dollars in the... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...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 Charles say he’s fed up... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...and Constance tries to pacify him by saying she’ll clean his room. Charles goes to Uncle Julian , and Julian tells Charles to stay away from his papers and calls him a... (full context)
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Uncle Julian tells Charles to be quiet, and Charles says he has to deal with Merricat first.... (full context)
Chapter 8
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
...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 a napkin under his chin. Constance tells... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...with the prospect of a long talk, Merricat says the Latin name for deadly nightshade. Uncle Julian is eating more than usual and feeling much better, partly because he’s been so impolite... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
...screams from upstairs and tells them all to run because the house is on fire. Uncle Julian remains calm and goes to retrieve his papers. Charles flees to get help, telling Constance... (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 in her father’s... (full context)
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The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
Someone asks where the sisters and Uncle Julian are, but Charles says they’re fine. Merricat thinks Uncle Julian must have gotten out the... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
...inside. Dr. Levy gets out of the other car and follows him in, asking where Uncle Julian is. No one sees the sisters. (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
From the porch, Jim Clarke announces that the fun is over, because Uncle Julian is dead. The villagers fall silent. Charles asks whether Constance killed him, and the crowd... (full context)
Chapter 9
Female Power Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
During the night, Merricat hears an ambulance take Uncle Julian away. People call for the sisters, but no one comes into the woods. Because Uncle... (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 been wearing. Merricat has never touched the shawl before, and... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...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 kitchen, unwilling to go further... (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Family and Gender Theme Icon
...her a piece of the cord for the drapes, and she considers burying it for Uncle Julian . (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...tea there again, since they only have two cups with handles. Merricat is relieved that Uncle Julian isn’t there, or else someone would have to use a broken cup. (full context)
Female Power Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...they pull it out onto the lawn to dry. They look at the spot where Uncle Julian used to sit, and Constance says she’ll bury a flower there. There’s lots to do,... (full context)
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
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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, Merricat says she isn’t allowed in... (full context)
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Dr. Levy says that Uncle Julian ’s funeral is the next day. Jim Clarke says the sisters might feel differently about... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Constance cleans Uncle Julian ’s room. She keeps his papers in their box and puts it down in the... (full context)
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Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
Constance discovers two suits in Uncle Julian ’s room. She barely remembers him going to buy a suit once. Merricat asks what... (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 imagine him in... (full context)
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Merricat discovers that she’s not allowed to 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... (full context)
Family and Gender Theme Icon
Guilt and Punishment Theme Icon
The Relativity of Truth Theme Icon
...him in. Constance smiles unpleasantly up at the door. Charles says he put flowers on Uncle Julian ’s grave that morning, and compliments Julian. (full context)
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...is always afraid that one of the two cups with handles will break. They wear Uncle Julian ’s clothes and the tablecloths. There are always flowers on the table. Merricat is no... (full context)