Part 2 Summary

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Last Updated on April 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 395

Looking out the florist’s window, Clarissa notes that the car that loudly backfired belongs to a person of high status. A whisper runs through the people crowding Bond Street, and they wonder about the owner of the car, debating whether or not it is a political figure or, perhaps, even a member of the Royal Family. The narrative takes up the feelings of those witnessing the car, providing insight into the minds and reactions of those standing along the street. There is an air of importance on Bond Street, and it has a tangible impact on all those who witness it. 

Overhead, an aircraft roars past, and the sound buzzes through the gathered crowd. Fear flits through their minds, as although World War One ended years earlier, the aircraft flying above reminded them of wartime. The anxiety is momentary, however, and life soon returns to its comfortable pace. Looking up, pedestrians notice that the plane is trailing hazy clouds of smoke that appear to spell something, perhaps for advertising, but the letter is too uncertain to be visible. 

In this scene, Septimus and Lucrezia Warren Smith appear for the first time. Septimus is in a gloomy mood and struggles to pay attention to his wife's attempts to distract him by pointing out various things in their surroundings. While Lucrezia tries to engage him in their surroundings, Septimus is preoccupied with strange voices that only he can hear, convinced that—like the plane’s trailing smoke—they hold hidden messages.

Septimus and Lucrezia’s relationship is visibly strained, and Maisie Johnson, a young woman who recently arrived in London from Edinburgh, notices the tension between them as she asks them for directions. Despite speaking with them only briefly, the painful but unquiet unhappiness of the Smiths strikes Masie to her core, and the tense pair makes a strong impact on her.

Looking out at these interactions, Mrs. Dempster notices that Maisie appears lost and bewildered. Mrs. Dempster characterizes Maisie as someone who lacks knowledge, bitterly claiming: "that girl don't know nothing." While reflecting on her life, Carrie Dempster concludes that, despite the hardships she has faced, she would not switch lives with any other woman she knows. However, she still yearns for some degree of understanding and compassion, such as a gentle touch on her cheek, and is unhappy that such comforts seem beyond her.

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Part 1 Summary


Part 3 Summary