Part 15 Summary

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Last Updated on April 6, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 509

Alone with Lucrezia, Septimus sits on their sofa, staring at the light reflecting through the nearby window and onto the wall; staring at the contrast of light and dark as it plays out on the wall, Septimus feels strangely calm and at peace. 

Beside him, Lucrezia is working on a hat, and the pair chat briefly, laughing about current events and neighborhood gossip. Narratorial glimpses into Septimus’s mind show that he is barely clinging to sanity; conversely, these same momentary insights into Lucrezia’s thoughts reveal her excitement about Septimus’s engagement, feeling that things are finally returning to normal. 

A knock on the door disrupts their peace, but it is only a local girl bringing a newspaper, which they read together. Slipping into delusion once more, Septimus calls out for Evans, and Lucrezia, stricken by his cries, feels a rush of sympathy for the man beside her, hoping against hope that he can be helped. Septimus expresses his fear of Bradshaw to his wife, and she promises to accompany him throughout it all and never leave him alone. 

Septimus explains that he does not believe that anyone—psychiatrist or otherwise—has the authority to command his life, so he resents Bradshaw and Dr. Holmes’s efforts to do so. Moreover, he does not wish for these men to access his papers and writing, fearful that they will manipulate or misinterpret their meanings. In a moment of kindness and intimacy, Lucrezia collects Septimus’s work and promises to protect it. As they speak, voices echo from below, and they realize that Dr. Holmes is approaching their home. 

Lucrezia descends the stairs to stand in the doorway and prevent Dr. Holmes from reaching Septimus, filled with a fiercely protective urge borne of their recent conversation. Upstairs, Septimus paces, restless, anxious, and hesitant to surrender to Holmes and the conventional human behavior he embodies. Fearing the prospect of institutionalization, he considers various suicide methods; his eyes flicker from the nearby bread knife and gas stove, but he deems them inadequate tools and decides on the window that he so recently stared longingly through. 

Tragically, Septimus does not feel especially drawn to the idea of suicide; he merely sees it as a solution to his current circumstances, one which will keep him from falling into Dr. Holmes’s clutches and becoming a person he does not wish to be. His mind made up, he leaps from the iron railing surrounding his and Lucrezia’s home and plummets to the ground. 

Dr. Holmes and Lucrezia both perceive the situation similarly, seeing Septimus’s death as something of an inevitability, almost as if it was necessary. Dr. Holmes calls Septimus a coward, and the house slips into turmoil; only Lucrezia appears calm, certain that her husband has acted as best he saw fit. Staring out the window and recalling happy memories, Lucrezia notices their neighbor, Mrs. Filmer, waving what appears to be a flag. Mrs. Filmer eventually comes inside to check on Lucrezia, who tells her about the awful thing that has happened.

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Part 14 Summary


Part 16 Summary