Part 12 Summary and Analysis

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 417

Richard decides to bring Clarissa flowers. Crossing London, he thinks intently about her. His thoughts center on her, and her importance to him. He yearns to come to her in just the right way, speaking words of love and showing that he appreciates her.

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Big Ben tolls thrice in Clarissa’s drawing room. She receives a note asking if she might invite Ellie Henderson to her party, and this nettles her. Clarissa had deliberately not invited Ellie, and dislikes feeling pressured to include her. Thoughts about Doris Kilman, who is praying with Elizabeth in another room, also make themselves felt.

Richard surprises her with flowers, but he cannot bring himself to say what he has been thinking. He wavers on the edge of saying what is in his heart. Yet Clarissa understands, for the
flowers and the unexpected visit are themselves enough. Richard mentions that Peter is back, and Clarissa tells him that Peter visited that morning. Richard describes Hugh at lunch and afterwards, while Clarissa still talks about Peter. Their words are at cross purposes, and neither side fully hears the other.

The Dalloways discuss the situation with Elizabeth and Kilman; neither of them is pleased. Richard leaves the room to take a nap. Clarissa remembers that he is following advice that a doctor gave a long time ago. She ponders what it is in the world that occupies her thoughts, that pleases and sustains her. Though she has few hobbies, it is life itself that pleases and engages her most.

This section provides still more insight into Richard’s personality. We see that once he focuses on Clarissa, on his way home to her, he becomes very sensitive and sympathetic. His ability to see the details of the world around him is a clear sign of both his intelligence and integrity.

Also, this is the reader’s first look at the Dalloways’ marriage. Instead of interpretations of one character, here they interact. In their speech and gestures, they are quite different. Richard’s practical and businesslike manner contrasts with Clarissa’s flighty

The conversation between husband and wife is very revealing. Notice how, soon after their joy at being together, the communication breaks down. It is difficult to be sure how this deterioration begins: with Clarissa’s comment that she might have married Peter? With the Kilman situation? With Richard’s thoughts about the party? Richard seems to stop indulging his wife, and he soon leaves the room to take a nap.

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