Chapters 20-23 Summary
Mr. Wilcox arrives at Aunt Juley’s home. He has things to discuss with Margaret so they walk into town alone. It takes Margaret a while to realize that Wilcox wants to talk about money. She then becomes excited about the topic, but it is obvious that Wilcox does not really want her input—he merely wants to tell her what his ideas are. When he mentions that he wants to be fair with everyone as to how to distribute his money, Margaret asks him how much money he has. Wilcox is put off by this question; he feels that Margaret far too forward on the topic. There is no need for her to know how much he owns, he tells her, as long as she realizes that he needs to take care of his children and assure them that their inheritance will not be decreased by his marriage.
Margaret takes no offense to his wanting to keep his personal affairs to himself. However, she does complain a little when he insists on her taking precautions. She must not walk alone at night, he tells her. She informs him that she has taken long hikes on her own at night and that she intends to continue her independence in these matters.
Later, after he has escorted her home, Wilcox kisses her goodnight abruptly and without any previous show of emotion. Margaret is disappointed with the kiss. There was no affection before or after it. Because she is older than the typical bride, she hopes to have patience and a deeper understanding of as well as appreciation for Mr. Wilcox’s needs.
At Charles and Dolly’s home, Mr. Wilcox’s older son is very angry upon hearing the news that his father is to wed Margaret. Charles believes that Margaret has been scheming all along, wanting Howards End as her final prize. He tells Dolly that the whole affair is all her fault. It was Dolly who brought her uncle and Evie together. If Evie were not planning on getting married, Charles’s father would not need anyone else. Then Charles promises that if Margaret and her sister step out of line, put on airs, keep his father for themselves, or—worse yet—appear to steal his money, he will put his foot down.
Margaret decides that Mr. Wilcox, whom she now calls Henry, is unaware of his emotions. Something, possibly from childhood, has closed him off from his inner life. He can read neither his own emotions nor those of others around him. Margaret hopes to change this about him. However, the more she tries, the more frustrated she becomes. At one point, Henry insists that Margaret leave Swanage (Aunt Juley’s home) and travel with him to Howards End. Margaret tells him that she does not want to leave her aunt’s home until the ten-day visit has come to its end. Her aunt looks forward to the annual visit and has put a lot of effort into preparing for it. Although she would like to see Howards End, Margaret insists that she will stay at her aunt’s home for the entire ten days.
Henry disregards Margaret’s wishes and tells Aunt Juley that Margaret wants to go with him to see Howards End. When Margaret greets her aunt, she understands what Henry has done and makes no move to undo it. She acquiesces to him.
In another matter, Henry has no feelings toward the news Helen brings. Leonard Bast has...
(The entire section is 870 words.)