Summary Book 3: Chapter 5

Before Bridey and Mrs. Muspratt take over Brideshead, Lord Marchmain announces his intention to spend his twilight years there. Julia and Charles return to Brideshead to greet him. Lord Marchmain looks ill. He cannot make it to his room upstairs and asks Wilcox to have the Chinese drawing room made up with an elaborate antique bed. Cara confirms that Lord Marchmain is dying. When Lord Marchmain met Mrs. Muspratt in Rome, he found her rude, and he now wants to leave Brideshead Castle to Julia and Charles. 

Bridey returns when Lord Marchmain’s condition deteriorates. He insists that his father should have a priest perform his last rites. Charles is appalled that the family wants to force religion on Lord Marchmain. A few days later, Bridey insists on calling Father McKay. Charles asks Julia to stop him, calling Catholicism “hypocrisy.” Julia doesn’t understand Charles' adamance. 

Cordelia brings Father McKay, but Lord Marchmain orders him out. Charles feels smug. He believes that being right about Lord Marchmain has averted the crisis he’d feared when Julia had her breakdown at the fountain. Furthermore, he believes Bridey’s insistence on bringing a priest will secure Charles and Julia’s inheritance. 

As Julia’s divorce draws nearer, she speaks of marrying Charles more “wistfully,” as if she believes it might not happen. War also grows closer, and both Julia and Charles sign up to aid the war effort. 

Lord Marchmain appears to be at death’s door, and Julia calls for Father McKay. Charles asks the doctor to stop her because the shock might kill Lord Marchmain, but the doctor refuses. When Father McKay arrives, Charles asks him if he thinks Lord Marchmain can really be saved. Father McKay believes grace makes anything possible. 

Father McKay asks Lord Marchmain to make a sign if he’s repented of his sins. Charles sees Julia praying and hopes, because he loves her, that Lord Marchmain will offer a sign. Finally, Lord Marchmain makes the sign of the cross. Charles feels his eyes have been opened.