Chapters 3 and 4 Summary and Analysis
Felix returns to Boston following his meeting with his Wentworth cousins and reports to Eugenia on his encounter. Not trusting Felix’s judgment, Eugenia tries to get facts out of him, but all he will tell them his opinion, which is very high and effusive. He describes their homes as “primitive,” but patriarchal. In describing his female cousins, Felix calls Charlotte the pretty one; by this, Eugenia knows that her brother is in love with Gertrude. Felix describes the other inhabitants: Lizzy (their cousin, but on the other side of the family), a young girl; Clifford, Gertrude’s and Charlotte’s tipsy brother; Mr. Bran, a preacher, and Mr. Acton, their cousin and Lizzy’s brother. This give Eugenia enough to go on, and she decides to make a visit the following day.
On arriving at the Wentworth home, the European siblings are met by their uncle, Mr. Wentworth, who has an air of responsibility and solemnity. Eugenia greets him, hoping that it was right for her to come. Wentworth welcomes her, but is intimidated by the brashness of his German/American niece. Charlotte is overcome with shyness, but Gertrude is quick to see through Eugenia’s manner. She sees her as putting on an act for politeness’ sake. The meeting is awkward and each side unsure of how to address each other as relatives.
Felix and Gertrude remain in the garden, where Felix asks Gertrude his impression of his sister. She states that she cannot tell as yet, since Eugenia strikes her as a singer singing an air. In other words, the performance is not over yet. Clifford, the brother of Gertrude and Charlotte, at last comes to meet his new cousin, as do Mr. Brand and Mr. Acton. Mr. Acton is seemingly the only one who feels comfortable around the German Baroness. Mr. Brand remains on the sidelines, literally, and in Eugenia’s attentions. Charlotte impulsively invites Felix and Eugenia to live with them.
The matter is discussed among the Wentworth clan. Charlotte wants to offer them a corner room in the house, but the suggestion of the separate house nearby is offered and deemed more suitable. Gertrude thinks this will allow them (especially...
(The entire section is 890 words.)