Part 2 Summary and Analysis
Septimus Warren Smith: a man who fought in the recent World War, and has not been the same since; acts in a disturbed, disoriented fashion Lucrezia Warren Smith: Septimus’ wife, whom he met in Italy; she makes hats, and worries about Septimus and their marriage
Maisie Johnson: a young woman recently arrived in London from Edinburgh, Scotland; asks the Smiths for directions, and is bewildered by her glimpse into their unhappiness
Mrs. Dempster (Carrie): an older woman who observes Maisie Johnson; she thinks about her life, and believes herself lucky
The loud backfire that startles Clarissa comes from the car of an important personage. The people on Bond Street speculate about whose car they see, wondering whether it belongs to an important politician or even a member of the Royal Family. In a philosophical tone, the narrative describes the emotions that the car evokes from those who see it. People perceive that great-
ness is among them, and that knowledge has a physical effect on them all.
An airplane is heard. Just as with the car backfire, fear is the automatic reaction, even if only momentary, for they think of the war. People then observe puffs of smoke that seem to form words. It seems to be an attempt to sell something, but no one can quite make out the letters.
Septimus and Lucrezia Warren Smith are introduced. Septimus is morose and not listening to his wife, who tries to divert him by pointing out details from their surroundings. Instead of paying attention to the scenery around him, Septimus focuses on mysterious voices, believing that he is receiving secret messages.
Septimus’ condition causes great stress in his marriage with Lucrezia, and this tension is observed by Maisie Johnson. A young woman just arrived in London from Edinburgh, Maisie is lost and asks the Smiths for directions. Although she spends just a moment in their vicinity, their unhappiness makes a great impression on her.
Just as Maisie Johnson sees the Smiths, Mrs. Dempster observes Maisie’s confusion. She sums up Maisie with the phrase “that girl don’t know nothing.” Carrie Dempster appraises her life and decides that though she has had a hard life, she would not change lives with any woman she knew. Even so, she longs for a measure of sympathy and even pity, such as a kiss upon her face.
The examinations of the car and the airplane are examples of the narrative voice, which is not identified or personified in the novel. Many people’s thoughts are stirred by the plane. Its freedom contrasts with the...
(The entire section is 655 words.)