Summary and Analysis: Chapter 7
When William Ashby comes to call on Kit, she does not know what she should say to him, and William does not make it any better by seeming to be content to sit silently in her presence. When Kit finally does start a conversation, it goes nowhere, and Kit is relieved when her aunt invites them to join the family and John Holbrook, who has just arrived for a visit. They have popcorn, and over the snack, William talks about the house he is planning to build. This slides into a discussion of the right to own property, and William surprises Kit by standing up to Matthew on the subject of politics. This again leads to a brief argument over what the colony should do in response to the current political situation, with William taking a pragmatic position (don’t anger the King), John arguing Dr. Bulkeley’s position (that Connecticut doesn’t interpret the charter correctly), and Matthew Wood arguing the strong position for freedom (and that the young men don’t understand).
This puts an end to the evening. After the young men leave, Kit is relieved that she will never have to deal with William again, but Judith and Mercy quickly correct her misunderstanding. William only mentioned the house because he is planning to build it for his new wife: Kit. The Wood sisters prove to be right, and William returns every Saturday. As much as Kit does not understand what he sees in her, or in their evenings together, she still looks forward to them as a break in her routine in Wethersfield, which seems to be nothing but work—work that she’s not very good at.
This chapter introduces one new plot twist that manages to develop four already established thematic concerns. As promised, William Ashby comes to court Kit, with the hopes of marrying her. The lack of connection between the two young people is so extreme that it verges on comedy, and it is made funnier—and sadder—by the fact that William seems content with their interaction, or lack thereof. He does not expect to talk to or connect with the woman he plans to marry. Instead, he is content to sit silently.
The dinner conversation develops the themes of gender division (the women and men experience a very different world), Kit’s role in this new world (with William she again feels how out of place she is), and the clash between loyalty and rights. Each of the men stakes out a different position: the conservative position (John, speaking for Dr. Bulkeley), the pragmatic position (William), and the radical position (Matthew), which in 100 years will lead to the American Revolution.