The Golden Bowl Book 4, Chapters 9-10 Summary

Henry James

Book 4, Chapters 9-10 Summary

Maggie spends an hour at the Museum under Mr. Crichton’s protection. When she returns home, she decides to confront Fanny with her knowledge concerning Charlotte and her husband. She had wanted to get something for her father for his birthday. She visits the shop where Charlotte and Amerigo had seen the golden bowl. Maggie buys the bowl and brings it home. Later the shopkeeper tells her that Charlotte and Amerigo had been to his shop a few days before her wedding and noticed the bowl. Maggie places it conspicuously on the mantelpiece for Amerigo to discover.

Maggie points the bowl out to Fanny and tells her about it. She sees it as in indication that, although she had known that her husband and her step-mother had known each other previously, she has now discovered that their relationship had not ended but continued past Maggie’s engagement. Fanny confesses that she had known that they had had a previous relationship, but she claims she did not know that it had been continued. Maggie berates Amerigo’s unfaithfulness, though Fanny confesses that she herself had said nothing. Maggie dismisses this because Fanny had not pretended anything, as Amerigo had done. Maggie points out the flaw in the bowl, recognizing it as symbolic both of the flawed marriage she has with Amerigo and of her fractured friendship with Charlotte. It is for her father only that she is concerned now. Fanny urges Maggie to leave both Charlotte and Amerigo alone. She tells Maggie that Amerigo has never been half so interested in her as he is at the moment. Fanny picks up the bowl and smashes it on the floor just as Amerigo enters, having overheard the last part of their conversation. Fanny leaves, leaving Maggie to confront her husband alone.

Maggie explains that Fanny, on learning of the flaw in the bowl, told her the only thing to do with it was to smash it, which she did before Maggie could stop her. Maggie told Amerigo that she learned the full story of the golden bowl when the shopkeeper came to the house that morning to confess that he overcharged her for the bowl because of the flaw. He saw pictures on the mantelpiece and told Maggie of Charlotte and Amerigo’s visit to the shop. Amerigo confesses that they had been there, but it was to buy a wedding present for Maggie. When Maggie asks what wedding present he and Charlotte had ended up buying, Amerigo cannot remember buying anything. Amerigo asks Charlotte what she intends to do. She tells him to find out for himself and walks out.