Mrs. Dalloway Questions and Answers
by Virginia Woolf

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What is the significance of Peter Walsh to Mrs. Dalloway in Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway?

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Peter Walsh reappears in London from India after an absence of about six years. He is a youthful suitor of Clarissa Dalloway from many years ago and is still in love with her after all these years. Clarissa is startled by his sudden reappearance, which also awakens memories in her as she accomplishes tasks for a party she is giving that evening. He is a wilder alternative to Richard, Clarissa's kind, respectable, conformist husband with a high-status political job (the prime minister comes to the party). Peter, a socialist and would-be writer, was always more edgy and daring—or wanted to be.

Peter critiques Clarissa and her conformist life, feeling she could have found greater use for her talents than raising a daughter and throwing parties. Yet he loves her, which throws into question his supposed reason for being in London, which is to arrange to marry a much younger Indian woman. Peter tends to lie to himself, for instance, thinking of himself as

an adventurer, reckless, he thought,...

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