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A Room with a View

E.M. Forster

Chapters 5-7

Chapters 1-4

Chapters 5-7, page 2

page 1 of 2

Summary

Lucy decides to accompany Charlotte for the day rather than go on an outing with Mr. Beebe and the Emersons, as she feels confused by the odd situation with George. In the Piazza Signoria (where the murder took place the day before), they find Miss Lavish, who as usual is exulting in her idea of the real Italy and making snide remarks about English tourists.

Lucy and Charlotte then come across the tiresome and snooty chaplain, Mr. Eager, who has connections with the expatriate English community in Florence. He invites Lucy and Charlotte to come out for a trip into the country of Fiesole the following day. Lucy finds she has lost her respect for both Miss Lavish and Mr. Eager. Mr. Eager discusses his distaste for Mr. Emerson, explaining that he once wrote for a Socialist paper, and revealing that he believes Mr. Emerson to have murdered his own wife, though he provides no substantiating evidence.

Charlotte accepts the invitation for a drive into the country, but realizes after Mr. Eager departs that they have also planned to drive with Mr. Beebe and Miss Lavish, who displeases Mr. Eager with her audacity. While Charlotte is planning who will sit with whom in the carriages, Lucy admits "I don't know what I think, or what I want." She has gotten a letter from her mother which informs her that some friends, the Vyses, are staying in Rome. Charlotte wants to do anything that will please her cousin, and Lucy expresses her desire to join these friends in Rome.

The outing to Fiesole takes place the next day, but to everyone's surprise, the group consists not only of Lucy, Charlotte, Miss Lavish, Mr. Beebe, and Mr. Eager, but also the Emersons, who were invited by Mr. Beebe. They are driven by a young Italian man who all the while courts his sweetheart (also Italian) at the front of the car. Lucy is envious of them, realizing that they are the only ones enjoying the trip at all, while the others deride the lower classes and admire the homes of wealthy ex-pats. Finally the Italians kiss, at which point Mr. Eager commands the girl to leave for such lack of decency. Mr. Emerson argues with this cold-hearted decision, declaring that the influences of "spring" are as admirable in man as in the nature they have come to appreciate.

Everyone roams around in the hills, admiring the somewhat hazy view. Lucy accompanies Charlotte and Miss Lavish, who are aghast that George's profession is "the railway." They ask Lucy to leave them alone to their criticisms, and she tries to discover the whereabouts of Mr. Beebe and Mr. Eager by communicating with the Italian driver in very rudimentary Italian. The driver leads her instead to a beautiful terrace covered with blue violets, where she encounters George. The driver cries out, "Courage! Courage and love!" George is standing at the terrace's brink, "like a swimmer who prepares." He turns around when she arrives, and, in an instant, overcome by the radiant beauty of the flowers and Lucy among them, kisses her. Suddenly Charlotte appears, calling for Lucy.

The party returns to Florence in the carriages, but a lightning storm soon begins. George walks home. They nearly drive into an exploded tram wire which had been hit by a lightning bolt. Everyone feels worried and then relieved, while Lucy tries to explain to Charlotte that she is blameless for the incident in the violets, remarking, "I want to be truthful...It is so hard to be absolutely truthful." Charlotte comforts her with the prospect of talking it over that night at bedtime. However, that night, the soul-bearing session of self-understanding that Lucy hoped for never occurs. Charlotte instead simply demands to know how Lucy intends to "silence" George, making insinuations against his character. Lucy wants to talk to George to settle the matter; Charlotte disapproves. Charlotte asks what would have happened if she had not appeared in the violet terrace, but Lucy cannot provide an answer. Charlotte announces that they will catch the morning train at eight for Rome. They begin to pack. Lucy tries to show warmth for Charlotte, who makes Lucy feel obligated toward her, until Lucy finally promises not to tell her mother about what has happened with George. George appears outside the window and rings the doorbell, but Lucy blows her lamp before he can see her. Charlotte appears in the hall and asks George to have a word in private. Lucy cries out, "It isn't true. It can't all be true." Charlotte silences her and they leave for Rome the next morning.

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