After Lord Marchmain dies, Julia tells Charles she cannot marry him. Charles, by this point, has known this was coming. Julia says she needs God in her life, and she believes marrying Charles would shut her away from God forever. She thinks Charles doesn’t understand, but he does.

Summary: Epilogue

The quartering commandant shows Charles around Brideshead, which has taken some damage from its use as a barracks. To protect the fountain, the commandant had to shut off the water and put a fence around it. Nevertheless, the men throw trash in it. 

Nanny Hawkins still lives in the house, and she updates Charles on the lives of the Marchmain family. Rex’s career has soared thanks to his anti-Hitler speeches. Bridey has joined the Yeomen. Julia and Cordelia are both with the women’s service in Palestine. 

Charles finds Hooper. Hooper doesn’t understand why a single family would need such a large house. Charles counters that the Army has made use of it. Hooper insists that doesn’t matter because that’s not why the house was built. Charles says that part of building is not knowing the edifice’s ultimate use. 

Finally, Charles visits the reopened chapel. He prays devoutly. At first, he’s upset that the likes of Hooper now overrun Brideshead. However, he realizes that the Army’s presence has led to the chapel’s reopening. He leaves with a newfound cheer. 

Analysis: Book 3: Chapter 5 and Epilogue

Charles becomes vehemently antagonistic toward religion for the first time in this chapter because he sees Catholicism as taking Julia away from him. The previous chapter set up Julia as having to choose between her passion for Charles and God. Her desire for Lord Marchmain to take the last rites threatens Charles because if Lord Marchmain acquiesces, Catholicism triumphs. Charles’s sudden anti-theism also coincides with him actively coveting Brideshead Castle for the first time. This development represents the worldly nature of his relationship with Julia, connecting his encouragement of her to choose passion with his desire for material gain. This shift also highlights Charles’s misunderstanding of what connects his loves of Julia and Sebastian. As we have seen, Charles always portrays Catholicism as being at the heart of Brideshead. If Charles loves Julia and Sebastian in part for what their heritage represents, then Catholicism is an intrinsic part of that heritage. Notably, when Lord Marchmain’s repentance vindicates Catholicism, Charles isn’t angry anymore because he sees a larger purpose. Charles thought that losing Julia and Brideshead would erase meaning from his life, but awakened to grace, he finds a deeper meaning.