Chapters 7-8 Summary
The news of the next day is that the Wilcoxes have moved into a flat across the street from where the Schlegel girls live. Aunt Juley is the first to notice the Wilcoxes as she is standing at the window arranging flowers. She is worried about their nearness, especially for Helen’s sake. Margaret tries to convince Aunt Juley that Helen no longer has feelings for Paul Wilcox. She is over him, Margaret says. However, when Helen comes into the room and Aunt Juley tells her about the Wilcoxes’ living so close by, Helen blushes.
After Helen leaves, Margaret changes the subject and discusses the differences between rich people and those who are poor. Rich people, Margaret tells her aunt, live on islands made of money. The poor live beneath them in the water. It is difficult for people who are rich to understand what the poor must endure because the rich are sheltered from most of the hardships that make up the lives of the poor. The rich float on their money, which takes the edge off most of their challenges. A rich person, for example, might lose an umbrella without any important effects. In comparison, if a poor person loses an umbrella, he or she might be forced to steal one because they cannot afford to buy another one. Although Margaret believes in a socialist philosophy, if she had to choose between being poor or rich, she would choose the latter.
When Helen returns, Margaret confronts her sister; she asks her directly if she still has feelings for Paul Wilcox and if his living across the street will cause her discomfort. Helen continues to insist that her feelings for Paul are dead. Besides, Helen announces, she is planning to travel with her cousin, Frieda Mosebach. Helen plans to be away in Germany until after the end of the year.
Later, Mrs. Wilcox calls when Margaret is not at home. When Margaret returns, she continues to worry about Helen and her feelings for Paul. Margaret wants Helen to have nothing to do with the Wilcoxes because she fears that Helen still harbors feelings. Should Helen and Paul meet, those emotions might become enflamed.
With this in mind, Margaret writes a note to Mrs. Wilcox, telling her that it would be best if the two families never kept company with one another. In response, Mrs. Wilcox writes back, telling Margaret that there was no need for...
(The entire section is 617 words.)