Chapters 9-11 Summary
In Chapter 9, Margaret has invited Mrs. Wilcox to come to tea and meet some of her friends. During the party, Mrs. Wilcox is very quiet. When Margaret tries to encourage Mrs. Wilcox to take part in some of the discussions, she shies away. It becomes clear that Mrs. Wilcox is not interested in any of the topics that fascinate Margaret and her friends.
The other people at Margaret’s house continue talking about art, German culture, and the difference between literature and journalism. Mrs. Wilcox listens to them all but without making any comment. It is not until they are on the topic of rights of women that Mrs. Wilcox offers her opinion: she admits she is glad she does not have to vote. Margaret amends the subject of women’s rights by making it much larger than just voting. But Mrs. Wilcox believes that discussions such as this one should be left to men. When Margaret pushes the subject further, asking if women should not at least have the right to progress rather than remain where they were at the dawn of creation, Mrs. Wilcox cannot answer. She has no thoughts on the topic.
At this, some of Margaret’s friends announce they have to leave. Mrs. Wilcox also rises, telling Margaret that she is not feeling very well. Margaret walks Mrs. Wilcox to the door and apologizes for sounding like talking monkeys, all gibberish. Mrs. Wilcox says she is used to being around young people, though her own children talk more about sports and politics. When Margaret returns to her friends, she hears them refer to Mrs. Wilcox as having a rather dull intellect.
Margaret does not hear from Mrs. Wilcox for several days, which leads her to believe that either she offended the older woman or that Mrs. Wilcox is teasing her with only brief moments of friendship. But then one day Margaret receives a note from Mrs. Wilcox, asking if she would help her do some Christmas shopping. Margaret is delighted and agrees to go.
During their conversations, Margaret recommends that they make a list of all the people for whom Mrs. Wilcox must buy gifts. Mrs. Wilcox finds this a wise suggestion and tells Margaret, who is about to write down the names, that she should put her own name at the top of the list. Margaret feels concerned about appearing a bit overbearing, and she tells Mrs. Wilcox that she thinks a gift for her is unnecessary. Margaret explains that she does not really believe in the commercialism of Christmas.
After their shopping is concluded, Margaret reflects on all the purchases they have bought as well as on the crowds of people they have seen in the stores. She wonders to herself where all the so-called goodwill of Christmas has gone. Later, when she is alone, she again considers goodwill and thinks that she has been short of...
(The entire section is 736 words.)