Why is there tension between Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay in The Window?

Mrs. Ramsay is frustrated with Mr. Ramsay for crushing James’s hopes of going to the lighthouse the next day. Embedded in this trivial dispute exists a clash in the Ramsays’ worldviews. Mr. Ramsay believes that his children should learn about the harsh realities of the world as they are, offering no caveats because he believes the world has no cushion for them. Mrs. Ramsay would rather protect her children from harsh reality, allowing them to maintain their innocence for as long as possible. She hates seeing Mr. Ramsay crush James’s hope.

What is Lily painting?

Lily attempts to paint a picture of Mrs. Ramsay at the window with James, although her portrait is abstract, not a portrait. As she explains to William Banks, her goal has little to do with painting the archetypal subject of mother and child, but rather to notice things in their totality, including their shadows. She describes herself as trying to connect all the disparate elements, and when she attempts the painting again in The Lighthouse, she considers Mrs. Ramsay from multiple angles and perspectives, trying to capture a vision of everything she sees in her.

Why does Mrs. Ramsay want Paul and Minta to marry?

Mrs. Ramsay believes that marriage is the key to happiness and posterity, particularly for women. However, she later acknowledges a selfish part of her wishes their marriage so that she can interweave a part of herself in their lives, becoming part of their story and legacy. In a similar way to Mr. Ramsay wishing to make his mark on philosophy, Mrs. Ramsay attempts futurity not just through being a mother but through helping other people, whether it’s sending goods to the lighthouse keeper’s son or playing matchmaker.

Why do the Ramsays leave the summer house empty for so long?

The Ramsays leave the summer house abandoned on account of both personal and world events. First, Mrs. Ramsay dies suddenly, and later Prue, meaning the Ramsay family is dealing with unexpected and deep grief. In the midst of this loss, World War I begins, limiting travel around the country because of rationing and fuel shortages. Andrew’s death in the war compounds the family’s grief. Therefore, it takes many years before the family feels emotionally ready to return and is also logistically able to.

What does Mr. Ramsay expect from Lily in The Lighthouse?

Mr. Ramsay expects sympathy from Lily. As demonstrated multiple times in the novel’s gendered dynamics, men in To the Lighthouse expect the women around them to soothe their egos and smooth over difficult moments, helping them feel less insecure. Without Mrs. Ramsay, Mr. Ramsay is lost and adrift in sorrow, but Lily refuses to give him the comfort he expects. This refusal causes Mr. Ramsay to think less of Lily, mentally calling her a “stock” and a “stone.”