Part 3 Summary

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Last Updated on April 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 415

Returning home from Mulberry’s, Clarissa finds the house bustling with activity and filled with the exciting hub of servants preparing for the evening’s festivities. However, her husband, Richard, is notably absent, and she learns that rather than waiting for her, he has gone to lunch at Lady Bruton’s home. Upset and feeling a keen sense of rejection, Clarissa continues about her day; Lucy seems to understand her unhappiness, and the pair share a moment of unspoken sympathy. 

Richard’s likely absentminded decision to lunch with Lady Bruton overwhelms Clarissa’s thoughts, and her disappointment leads her to catastrophize. She imagines that the lack of invitation to lunch is a cataclysmic moment that will ultimately lead her to a lonely future in which she is old and solitary, abandoned by Richard and their upper-class society. Continuing to prepare, Clarissa wonders if her social skills are to blame and attempts to gauge whether they are lacking in any way. 

As Clarissa ascends the stairs to the attic that has recently become her bedroom, where she spends her nights reading late into the wee hours, she thinks of the unexplained “illness” that she feels forced her to sleep alone. Because she and Richard do not share a bed, she feels that their physical distance may have alienated him and worries that he feels let down. Thinking about intimacy conjures a different aspect of Clarissa, allowing the innocent, virginal attitude that she clings to like a shield to bubble to the surface. Love and intimacy—both physical and emotional—are difficult subjects for her. 

The topic of love triggers memories of Bourton, and Clarissa slips back into the past, remembering her friendship with Sally Seton. As she traverses moments with Sally, Clarissa vividly recalls mundane happenings and casual remarks, but her mind lingers on a particularly pressing memory: the evening that Sally jokingly kissed her. Looking back, it is obvious that, though the kiss meant little to Sally, it holds a prominent place in Clarissa’s mind. 

Turning once more to the subject of Peter, Clarissa contemplates what he would think of her now. She considers herself in the mirror and reflects on her physical appearance, worried that she appears old and undesirable. However, she eventually dismisses these thoughts and chooses her outfit for the party that night but is annoyed to discover that it is torn. She decides to fix it later, then goes downstairs to continue discussing the details of the party with Lucy.

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Part 2 Summary


Part 4 Summary