Though Anne is happy at Uppercross, it bothers her deeply that the Crofts have now moved into Kellynch. She thinks sadly of her home being inhabited by other people. She and Mary go to pay a visit to the Crofts. The Crofts are amiable people, and Mrs. Croft has a weather-beaten complexion from spending much time at sea with her husband. Mrs. Croft mentions that her other brother, Mr. Wentworth is married, and Anne briefly fears that it is her Captain Wentworth to which Mrs. Croft refers. But Captain Wentworth is soon expected to be visiting. This news excites and unnerves Anne.
The name of Captain Wentworth sparks a recollection in Mrs. Musgrove. She remembers that her son Dick served under Captain Wentworth in the Navy and wrote of him fondly. Dick was a "troublesome, hopeless" son who had been sent to sea at the age of twenty because he was unmanageable on land. Though his family had never been very attached to him, Dick's death affected his mother deeply. To hear Captain Wentworth's name, a man whom her son respected and described as "dashing," made Mrs. Musgrove remember her son and grieve his loss again.
Austen continues to explore the complex English class system. Comparing her own household to that of the Musgroves allows Anne to make important observations about class divisions in England. Although the Musgroves are a wealthy, landowning family, second in the parish only to the Elliots, they are not titled. They do not have as high birth and family connections as the Elliots do. Though the Elliots are perfectly happy to interact and even to intermarry with them, there are distinct differences in their ways of life. Anne notices that the Musgroves discuss sport, dress, and daily activities; they are not nearly as concerned with appearances, social standing, and the affairs of other families. This difference is at first refreshing to Anne, but at the same time, slightly disconcerting. The narrator describes the Musgroves as "not much educated and not at all elegant." Anne enjoys the Musgroves' company, but does not wish to emulate them; her taste seeks more education and more elegance. Though Anne finds both of these qualities in her own family, she dislikes their close-minded elitism.
These chapters touch upon the social positions of women within the class system. In the late nineteenth-century, a woman's social rank was extremely tenuous. Women were unique in the class society for their ability to rise or fall in social station easily. After marriage, a woman's rank was entirely dependent upon her husband's birth and social standing. In contrast, although a man might increase his fortune, he could not improve his rank by marrying a well-born woman; his wife would only fall to his level. Choosing a marriage partner well, then, was of the utmost importance for a woman. Her friends and family would seek to guide her in finding the very best man available.
In these chapters, the theme of social mobility for women is illustrated by the "dangerous" prospect of a match between Mrs. Clay and Sir Walter. Anne thinks taking Mrs. Clay to Bath is entirely imprudent and unwise, and she considers it her duty to warn Elizabeth that such a match might be a possibility. The "danger" of such a marriage is twofold. First, a marriage like this is a way for a woman of obscure birth to be brought into "undue distinction" and though Anne does not specifically say this, she is not liberal enough in her views to avoid being offended by such a presumptuous move on Mrs. Clay's part. Second, such a marriage would turn Mrs. Clay into Lady Elliot, thereby allowing her to take precedence over both Elizabeth and Anne at family functions. When the narrator refers to the specific "danger" to Elizabeth, she means that if a marriage were to happen, Elizabeth would be ousted from her position as first lady of Kellynch Hall.