Part 13 Summary

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Last Updated April 5, 2023.

Doris Kilman stands on the landing, idly waiting for Elizabeth to ready herself for a shopping trip. Catching sight of Doris, Clarissa greets her kindly, but the severe woman replies frostily, so their exchange is brief and icily polite. As Elizabeth readies herself to leave, Clarissa calls out, reminding them of her party that evening. 

Internally, Doris expresses loathing for Clarissa, resenting her idleness, atheism, and beauty. She considers her own life of poverty, labor, and limited success, then espouses resentment for Clarissa’s casual wealth and the luxury that she seems not to have earned. Thinking of her life, Doris recalls that she has always been clumsy and unfortunate, which must be why her life has not been a success. She remembers being fired from her job as a school teacher during the height of the war, as she refused to speak poorly about Germany. Now, she has been reduced to charity, and she resents Clarissa for it, seeing her as an outlet for all her anger and unhappiness.

Doris makes no attempt to disguise her biases, and Clarissa can see right through her. It is apparent that the sentiment runs both ways: Clarissa does not like Doris and disapproves of her friendship with Elizabeth. The clock chimes, announcing the half-hour, and Clarissa's mind races to the next topic.

As the two women shop, Doris’s mind flits between the individuals she despises and the one person she cares deeply about, Elizabeth. Knowing her own unattractiveness, she ruminates on the paradox of body and soul. They go into the department store in search of petticoats for Doris, and the shopkeeper is surprised that such a severe woman might purchase such posh, feminine goods.

At this point, the story shifts to Elizabeth's point of view. She feels sorry for Doris but also has some sympathy for her. She appreciates Doris's faith and seriousness but is troubled by her animosity toward Clarissa. Doris’s feelings toward Elizabeth affect her ability to maintain her composure; however, she struggles to verbalize her feelings about the younger woman and becomes distraught at the prospect of being alone after Elizabeth returns home.

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Part 12 Summary


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