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Clarissa exits the flower shop and walks down the street
to go visit Richard. She pauses near the trailer and watches two
girls argue about which movie star they saw. Though the girls will
get older and die, Clarissa considers the fact that the movie star
will be remembered. On her way to Richard’s apartment, she passes
the corner where they once stood when they were nineteen. On that
corner the two argued and broke off their love affair because Clarissa
wanted more freedom. She wonders what would have happened if they
had remained lovers.
At Richard’s building, she goes in through the door and
thinks about the dirty, squalid state of the tenement apartment
building. The elevator doesn’t work, but Clarissa feels relief about
this, since she was afraid it might break down and trap her inside.
She climbs the stairs to Richard’s apartment and knocks on the door.
He greets her by calling her “Mrs. D.,” a shorter version of his
pet name for her, “Mrs. Dalloway.” When she comes in, Richard talks
to himself in another room. She thinks about how sad she is that
Richard didn’t get the new kinds of HIV drugs in time to avoid being
mentally damaged by the virus.
Richard’s apartment is cluttered and stuffy, and Clarissa
raises one of the shades. The expensive coffee machine she bought
him sits unused and covered in dust on his counter. Since she has
to prepare for the party, she tells Richard that she can only stay
for a second. She mentions that she saw a movie star on the way
to his house, and he expresses his disinterest in movie stars. He
thinks his friends are so interesting that he doesn’t care about
Clarissa reminds Richard about the party and the awarding
of the prize. Richard says that he thought the party had already
happened. He doesn’t want to go to the party or get the prize, because
he doesn’t want anybody to pity him. He thinks the prize is being
given to him out of pity, not out of genuine admiration for his
work. Clarissa feels frustrated, because she feels he is finally
getting recognition for his writing and that he should enjoy the
acclaim. Despite this vote of confidence, Richard expresses his
embarrassment over how much he feels as if he’s failed to capture
life on paper, particularly Clarissa’s life. His statement reminds
Clarissa that he once wrote a whole book about her. Before she leaves,
she tells him to take a nap and that she’ll be back at three-thirty
to help him get ready.
Clarissa views recognition by the literary establishment
and the reading public as a way of escaping mortality. Her interest
in the movie star and her desire for Richard to receive the recognition
he deserves show Clarissa’s need to hold onto the idea of immortality. First,
she reflects on the mortality of the two girls: they will be forgotten,
while the movie star they see will be remembered. In Richard’s apartment,
she explains that the recognition he will receive through his writing
awards will allow him to have immortality in the face of his impending
death. For Clarissa, these public validations allow the movie star
and Richard to escape from the realities of mortality and memory.
Richard views his own impending mortality as a threat
to his desire to write more. Clarissa misunderstands Richard and
reassures him that the work he has done is enough. Richard feels
cheated by not having time to write and accomplish more, and he
sees his previous work as relative failures compared to what he
could potentially do if he had more time. Like Virginia Woolf, Richard
sees time as his enemy, closing in around him and preventing him
from accomplishing all that he wishes to in his art and his life.
Clarissa’s care for Richard’s apartment shows her nurturing
side, even though the squalor reveals that Richard has given up
on the small comforts of day-to-day living. Although Clarissa literally
tries to brighten the apartment up by opening the shade, Richard
seems determined to live in a squalid state. He no longer bothers
to enjoy the simple pleasures of the coffee machine she bought him,
and it rests on the counter covered with dirt and dust. Clarissa
fears that his indifferent attitude toward his living situation
may indicate that he is closer to death than she thinks, and she
actively tries to counteract this reality by making his apartment
more pleasant and livable.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Hours!