Chapters 1 and 2 Summary and Analysis


Kate Croy goes to visit her father one last time. As she waits in his rooms for him to appear, she observes the shabbiness and, above all, the vulgarity of the furnishings. She is dressed in black and impatient for her father to come down from his bedroom to see her. When at last he does, he is vague and bitter. He claims to be unwell.

Kate informs him that her aunt, Mrs. Maud Lowder, has invited her to come to live with her in her mansion, provided she give up all contact with her father. She is able to provide an upper-class life for her lower-middle-class niece, especially in providing avenues in which she might find a suitable husband. Kate’s mother has died, but has left her an annual income of two hundred pounds a year, half of which she intends to give to her sister, Marian, who is widowed with four children. She has come to say good-bye to her father, who is irresponsible and undependable to say the least. She also hopes that he will ask her to stay with him, and that the two of them will find some means to go on together. However, Lionel Croy is in favor of Kate’s going to live with her aunt, but thinks that she owes him something, since it is his irresponsibility and lack of dependability that have led to her being offered this opportunity. He wants her to give half of her inheritance to him instead of to Marian. With the hint that Kate has a romantic prospect among the middle class, Mr. Croy warns her that she must get a man who can adequately care for her. If Mrs. Lowder does not approve of a gentleman, neither will Mr. Croy. Giving up the attempt to maintain their family, Kate leaves.

Kate goes to her sister, Marian, to discuss her next course of action. Kate has felt very much the younger sister, whose sole purpose is to support her older sister. After their mother’s death, Kate went to live with her Aunt Maud, and now she feels that she is the only avenue that her father and sister have for gaining access to money, and she resents it. As for Aunt Maud, she has provided some provision for the family. The money is enough to tie them to her, but not enough to make them independent.

Marian is horrified that Kate offered to leave Aunt Maud and live with their father. She is worried about losing Aunt Maud. She is also concerned that Kate will...

(The entire section is 952 words.)