The Good Soldier Part 4, Chapters 3-4 Summary

Ford Madox Hueffer

Part 4, Chapters 3-4 Summary

Dowell takes this time to provide more details about Nancy, apologizing for mixing up the chronology.

First, Dowell relates how sheltered Nancy's life has been. Raised in a convent, Nancy knows little about the secular world or romance and emotions. In her Catholic mind, once a couple is married, they will remain together for the rest of their lives. She has deduced from the people around her that after awhile, affection disappears. Even so, Nancy believes all married couples stay together.

However, after reading a story about a woman she knows, Nancy was confused when she heard the woman had won a court case and was legally divorced. Leonora explained the difference between secular law and Church law. The acquaintance was not Catholic and the woman had the legal right to leave her husband. Only Catholics were not allowed to divorce, according to Church law. Leonora asked if Nancy thought she might one day be married. Nancy responded that she knew no one who loved her enough to ask her. When Leonora mentioned Dowell, who had told Leonora of interest in Nancy, Nancy told Leonora that if told to marry Dowell, she would. However, if she were to choose, he would have to be exactly like Edward.

At this point, Nancy had thought of Edward as an uncle. The more she studied the captain and Leonora, though, the more she saw that they did not love one another. She also concluded, because her uncle began to look more and more forlorn, that it was very possible that the captain loved someone other than his wife. However, it was not until Leonora finally told Nancy about the reasons for the captain's depression that Nancy was fully aware that her uncle was in love with her. Nancy then realizes her own, mature emotions for the captain.

Leonora continues to insist Nancy stay and become Edward's mistress. Nancy will having nothing to do with this plan and wants to get away from Leonora. She does not want to become contaminated by Leonora's depression. Nancy has what she wants most, Edward's love. She will take that with her when she leaves.

When Edward hears of Nancy's plan to go to her mother, he calls a friend and makes arrangements to send Nancy's mother some money. This alleviates Nancy's need to go to her mother, thus leaving her free to go to her father in India.