Chapters 5-6 Summary
Helen, Margaret, Tibby, and their Aunt Juley attend a classical music concert featuring Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. As they listen to the composition, each has a different response. Helen relates the variations in the symphony to what has recently happened to her at the Wilcox home at Howards End. As Beethoven works through passages between major and minor keys, Helen thinks Beethoven had in mind an encounter between reality and imagination. She sees the Wilcoxes as people who deal with life on a very rational basis. She, in contrast, is one of the imaginative people who sees life differently. The meaning behind Beethoven’s music, Helen concludes, is that the world is not ruled merely by logic.
Having been so moved and filled with Beethoven’s music, Helen leaves the concert hall before the music program is completed. On her way out, Helen absentmindedly takes the umbrella that belongs to the man sitting next to Margaret. By the time the man and Margaret notice this, it is too late to go after Helen because the next performance is about to begin. At the conclusion of the concert, Margaret invites the young man to come home with her and Tibby and Aunt Juley to retrieve his umbrella, and the young man reluctantly agrees.
Aunt Juley is slightly offended by Margaret’s invitation to the young man because he is a stranger. They know nothing about him, not even his name. She asks, what if he steals something from the house? However, Margaret has no concern whatsoever. A few knick-knacks will make no difference. Margaret is obviously more interested in meeting people—of all different types and social levels—than in guarding her possessions. It is better to be duped, her grandfather used to say, than to be suspicious.
The man is somewhat embarrassed about going home with Margaret. It is obvious that Margaret and the rest of her family are much more educated and cultured than he is. He shares their interests in art, music, and literature, but he is a working man who has little time in which to educate himself. If he had been raised in leisure, as Margaret, Tibby, and Helen obviously were, then he would recognize all the names of authors, philosophers, and composers as easily as they do. But he needs his umbrella and cannot afford to purchase a new one, so he follows them to their home at Wickham Place, which is a short walk from the concert hall.
Although he goes with them to their home and steps inside the front door, he does not linger long even though the women ask him to stay for tea. When Helen...
(The entire section is 682 words.)