Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Six characters feel enormous tension one Saturday evening between shortly after nine o’clock and midnight in a somber sitting room of an old château surrounded by gardens and a lake. Together with their father, uncle, and grandfather, three young women hopefully await the visit of the father’s and the uncle’s eldest sister, a nun who is the mother superior of her convent, and of the doctor who is to check on their sickly mother in the room on the left and the silent baby in the room on the right.
The family enters the sitting room, disagreeing. The father and the daughters want to sit outside while the uncle, because it rained for one week, prefers to remain inside. The grandfather resolves the dispute by saying that it is better to stay in since one never knows what might happen. The father declares that his wife, who was sick for several weeks, is out of danger from her illness. The grandfather disagrees, since he heard her voice. The uncle supports his brother and recommends that they all relax and enjoy the first pleasant evening they have had in a long time.
The uncle remarks that sickness is like a stranger in the family, and the father notes that one can count only on family members, not outsiders, for help. The men ask Ursula, the eldest daughter, if she can see anyone in the avenue. She sees no one yet, but reports that the avenue is moonlit and the weather fine, that the nightingales can be heard, and that the trees stir a...
(The entire section is 984 words.)
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