Chapters 12-14 Summary
Margaret knows nothing about Mrs. Wilcox’s intention to leave Howards End to her. She had suffered through Mrs. Wilcox’s illness as a compassionate friend, not as someone who wanted anything in return. Through the past few weeks of attending to Mrs. Wilcox in her declining health, Margaret grew fonder of the Wilcoxes, even the abrasive son, Charles. She now recognizes that her family and theirs are very different and will never be on the same social status—but each family has its own strength. Sometimes Margaret found that some of things the Wilcoxes would say or believe in were very stupid. But they did have all the right connections and always seemed to know whom to call or what to do whenever they were presented with a challenge. Margaret hoped to learn from them in this area. She also felt somewhat protected in their presence.
Helen writes from Germany and then soon returns. She has received a proposal. Frieda had hoped to marry Helen to a German man and thereby convince the Schlegels to leave London and live in Germany. Helen was not impressed with the man and laughed when receiving his proposal from Frieda.
Once home, Helen learns of the strange changes that have taken place in Margaret. Before she had left for Germany, Helen had thought Margaret detested the Wilcoxes. Upon returning, she listens to Margaret praising the Wilcox family and insinuating that she would like to pursue relationships with them. Meanwhile, Tibby has applied for a scholarship to attend Oxford. The sisters encourage him because they feel his education needs to be improved.
Two years pass, and Tibby has come home from Oxford for a visit. While Helen prepares a speech she plans to give at a lecture that night, Margaret asks Tibby about what he wants to do in life. Tibby responds that he wants nothing to do with a profession. He wants to be a man of leisure. Margaret is neither annoyed nor surprised by Tibby’s answer. However, she feels she must provide Tibby some direction. She asks her brother to name some men he knows whom he admires. Then she suggests some men whom neither of them like. The difference, Margaret points out, is that the men they admire have jobs. The men they do not like do not work. It is the work, Margaret emphasizes, that makes a man well rounded and interesting. Employment is the new concept of the century, she says. Some day, she continues, both men and women will feel the same about professions. They will not be able to conceive of a life of unemployment.
Then Margaret reminds Tibby about their having to move. The lease on the house in which they have lived all their lives is about to run out. Their landlord wants to renovate the building, and then their home will cost more than they can afford. They need to settle on a location they all like. After discussing several towns, they agree that they would like to continue living in London. Margaret will focus on finding another house in the city.
At about this time, Helen runs upstairs and bursts into the room with a very strange story. A woman has just paid a visit with the sole purpose of finding her missing husband. Helen was astonished by such an unusual request and told the woman to look around the house, being sure the...
(The entire section is 882 words.)