Howards End Questions and Answers
by E. M. Forster

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Explain the following sentences from Howards End: Yes, the umbrella was the real trouble... There had always been something to worry him ever since he could remember, always something that distracted him in the pursuit of beauty. For he did pursue beauty, and, therefore, Margaret's speeches did flutter away from him like birds.

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This quote comes from Chapter 5 of the novel and concerns Leonard Bast as he is in the Schlegel household trying to reclaim his umbrella. As a member of the working class who is trying to desperately improve himself, he is trying to keep abreast with the conversation of the Schlegel sisters, but he finds that their words "flutter away from [him] like birds." As he tries to focus on what they say, he finds he can only think about his umbrella, and this to him becomes a symbol of what distracts him in his "pursuit of beauty." Of course, the reality is that his poverty dictates that his umbrella, and other physical objects, become...

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