Clarissa had a theory in those days . . . that since our apparitions, the part of us which appears, are so momentary compared with the other, the unseen part of us, which spreads wide, the unseen might survive, be recovered somehow attached to this person or that, or even haunting certain places after death . . . perhaps—perhaps.See Important Quotations Explained
Peter watches a child in Regent’s Park run into Rezia’s legs. Rezia helps the child to stand up and thinks that she cannot tolerate Septimus’s disturbing behavior anymore. Septimus says people are wicked. Once, by the river, he even suggested that he and Rezia kill themselves. He feels he knows the meaning of the world. A dog seems to become a man in front of his eyes. Rezia wishes she were back in Milan, making hats with her sisters. She tells Septimus it is time to go for his doctor’s appointment. Septimus believes his dead friend, Evans, is walking toward them in the park, but the man approaching is actually Peter Walsh.
To Peter, the Smiths are simply a young couple having a lovers’ quarrel. Peter marvels over the changes that have taken place in London since he was there five years ago, in 1918. Women are dressed well, and he likes their new habit of wearing makeup. He is impressed by the open-minded tone of newspapers and by the new sexually liberated generation.
Peter remembers Sally Seton flaring up at Hugh Whitbread in Bourton for his conservative views on women’s rights. Sally told Hugh he represented all that was detestable about the British middle class. Peter loathes Hugh and his pretentiousness but also envies Hugh’s success. He finds Richard Dalloway a dull but good man. Richard once said nobody should read Shakespeare’s sonnets, because doing so was like listening at a keyhole.
Constantly returning to thoughts of Clarissa, Peter tells himself he is not in love with her anymore and reflects on her worldliness and her love of rank and tradition. Peter laments Clarissa’s marriage, which forces her to quote Richard constantly, thus withholding her own thoughts. Peter feels that she has a genius for making her home a meeting place for young people and artists. He wonders if she gains insight from the philosophers she read as a girl, Huxley and Tyndall. When Clarissa was young, she saw a falling tree kill her sister, Sylvia. She did not become bitter, however, and continues to enjoy nearly everything.
Peter wonders if he is truly in love with Daisy, since he is not tortured over his relationship with her in the way he was with Clarissa. He is aware that he wants to marry her mainly because he doesn’t want her to marry anyone else. Peter hears someone opposite the Regent’s Park Tube station singing a song about love and death. The voice comes from a decrepit old woman, who at first seems sexless. She sings the line, “and if some one should see, what matter they?” Peter feels sorry for her and gives her a coin.
The point of view shifts to Rezia, who is also in the park. Initially, Rezia shares Peter’s pity for the old woman, but the more Rezia listens, the more the song comforts her. She becomes hopeful that the psychiatrist Sir William Bradshaw will cure Septimus.