Captain Charles Ryder of the British Army and his company move to a new billet in the neighborhood of Brideshead, an old estate he often visited during his student days at Oxford. Brideshead is the home of the Marchmains, an old Catholic family. Following World War I, the Marquis of Marchmain went to live in Italy. There he met Cara, who became his mistress for life. Lady Marchmain, an ardent Catholic, and her four children, Brideshead, Sebastian, Julia, and Cordelia, remained in England. They lived either at Brideshead or at Marchmain House in London.
When Charles Ryder met Sebastian at Oxford, they soon became close friends. Among Sebastian’s circle of friends were Boy Mulcaster and Anthony Blanche. With Charles’s entrance into that group, his tastes became more expensive, and he ended his year with an overdrawn account of 550.
Just after returning home from school for vacation, Charles received a telegram announcing that Sebastian was injured. He rushed off to Brideshead, where he found Sebastian with a cracked bone in his ankle. While at Brideshead, Charles met some of Sebastian’s family. Julia met him at the station and later Bridey, the eldest of the Marchmains, and Cordelia, the youngest, arrived. After a month, his ankle healed, Sebastian took Charles to Venice. There they spent the rest of their vacation with Lord Marchmain and Cara.
Early in the following school year, Charles met Lady Marchmain when she visited Sebastian at Oxford. Her famous charm immediately won Charles, and he promised to spend his Christmas vacation at Brideshead. During the first term, Sebastian, Charles, and Boy Mulcaster were invited to a London charity ball by Rex Mottram, a friend of Julia. Bored, they left early and were later arrested for drunkenness and disorderly conduct. Rex obtained their release.
As a consequence of the escapade, Charles, Sebastian, and Boy were sent back to Oxford, and Mr. Samgrass, who was doing some literary work for Lady Marchmain, kept close watch on them for the rest of the term. Christmas at Brideshead was spoiled for almost everyone by the presence of Samgrass. Back at Oxford, Charles began to realize that Sebastian drank to escape his family. During the Easter vacation at Brideshead, Sebastian became quite drunk. Later, when Lady Marchmain went to Oxford to see Sebastian, he again became hopelessly drunk. Shortly afterward, he left Oxford. After a visit with his father in Venice, he was induced to travel in Europe under the guidance of Samgrass.
The next Christmas, Charles was invited to Brideshead to see Sebastian, who returned from his tour. Sebastian told Charles that during their travels Samgrass had completely controlled their expense money so as to prevent Sebastian from using any for drink. Before...
(The entire section is 1139 words.)