Washington Square Chapters 9 and 10 Summary and Analysis
by Henry James

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Chapters 9 and 10 Summary and Analysis

At the customary Sunday evening gathering at Mrs. Almond's, Morris arrives and devotes his time to Catherine. Dr. Sloper, seeing the two together, pities his daughter. Although she knows her father's disapproval of the courtship, she still insists on seeing Morris. Yet she cannot be as openly defiant as she might assume to be. She is not an adequate rebel, and it is that which Dr. Sloper pities. Considering how unattractive she herself is, he acknowledges that she must enjoy the attentions of an attractive young man. He also knows that she will defend him against Morris’s objections. He decides to give Morris another chance. The two men discuss Morris’s employment prospects, yet the subtext is the likelihood of Morris’s courtship of Catherine succeeding. Dr. Sloper says that Morris should not despair if he does succeed, but he must choose his line with discretion. He asks if there is the possibility of Morris leaving New York if the right job came along. Morris replies that he is bound to remain in New York due to his family duties. With this, Dr. Sloper resolves to visit Morris’s sister, Mrs. Montgomery, to delve deeper into this suitor of his daughter. Meanwhile, Morris returns to Catherine, stating that he can no longer come to her house, that her father has insulted him concerning his poverty. He tells Catherine that he has something to ask her and that they must meet in Washington Square. Catherine insists that he come to her house. Morris agrees, since this defiance of her father is exactly what he wanted.

When Morris comes to the house the next day, he professes his love to Catherine and kisses her. Catherine accepts his kisses, having wanted them but not expecting them. She tells Morris that they must approach Dr. Sloper. She will talk to him that evening, and Morris will speak to him the next day. Morris prepares her for her father’s objections, stating that he will most likely tell her that Morris wants her only for her money, that he is proposing to her for purely mercenary purposes. Catherine states that she will simply tell him that it is not true. When Catherine says that she is glad that they will be rich, Morris replies that it will be the source of their difficulty.

When Morris leaves, Catherine asks him again if he truly loves her. He simply asks her how she can doubt it. He also asks her to promise him that, should her father forbid their marriage, that she will choose him over her father. She is over twenty-one, so she is old enough to make her own choices legally. Catherine murmurs his name, which Morris takes as assurance.

Dr. Sloper continues to demonstrate that he has no thought for Catherine’s feelings. At the Sunday family gathering, he is able to look at her objectively and feel pity that she is not able to effectively defy him. He observes her pitiful attempts to go against his disapproval of Morris and marvels that she continues to speak to him. He knows that Catherine will defend him from Morris’s “abuses,” regardless of her own feelings for Morris. He knows he has Catherine effectively hooked and under his control. She may play the part of rebel, but she will not be able to pull it off.

In deciding to give Morris another chance, it is not out of compassion. Rather, it is out of a desire to see his evaluation of the man validated. He knows Morris is a cad and a mercenary. He plays with Morris like a fish on a line.

The conversation concerning Morris’s job search has two meanings, and both...

(The entire section is 934 words.)