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Topic: Howard's End - Chapters 34-44

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Subject: Howard's End - Chapters 34-44
Date Posted: 10/10/2008 6:43 PM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
Posts: 576
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Please discuss the final chapters of the book here :)

Date Posted: 10/16/2008 12:29 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,928
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Ok, finished.  I think the last sections really elevated the book and the characters.  I would not have believed that Helen could become so responsible and mature, taking responsibility for her own actions.  Her conversation with Meg when her condition is discovered is the kind of real, believable change that human beings are capable of. 

Meg's speech to Henry was awesome.  She kept putting up with him and putting up with him throughout the book, and while I admire her for  not being so judgmental and expecting the perfect romantic hero, by the time they get to Howards End I was ready for her to cut him down a size. 

And ultimately Henry also undergoes the kind of real human change that Helen does but in a different way.  When he loses his son he doesn't try to make excuses or blame Leonard, he just accepts the situation and learns from what Margaret had said to him. 

Two characters I'm still not sure what to make of are Tibby and Leonard.  I'm glad that Leonard feels a sort of redemption for himself and equality to the Schlegels before he dies, I think his going to find Margaret to apologize and take responsibility show how he's come to value himself by his own standards and not to feel inferior any more.  But his death scene seems almost trivial, it happens so simply and Forster gives it so little description that I wonder what we're meant to interpret from his death? 

And I've never really known what to make of Tibby, how does he fit in with his sisters? He's almost like the perfect blend of Schlegel & Wilcox; detached like the Wilcoxes and bookish & artsy like the Schlegels.  But I can't tell if he really cares about his sisters or not.  He certainly doesn't seem to care about anyone other than his sisters.

These are just my initial thoughts on finishing HE, I'll be interested to see what others thought.

Date Posted: 10/17/2008 8:44 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2007
Posts: 702
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Actually, I didn't particularly like the ending.  I did like Margaret's finally standing up to Henry.  I'm sure that I cannot possibly understand the mind-set of an Englishman during this time period such as Henry was.  However, I could not believe that he wouldn't "let" Margaret and Helen spend one night at Howard's End, especially given the fact that it was actually supposed to go to Margaret.  I thought that it was a little dog-in-the-manger, since he had no plans to live there.

I didn't really want Margaret to go to Germany with Helen and was surprised that she would give up on Henry so easily.  Maybe this was the final straw for her.

I felt that the ending was too hurried--the intended apology of Leonard, his "manslaughter," the convicting of Charles, the "giving up" of Henry, and the happily ever after (if that's what it was) of the rest of them.  And, what became of Jackie? 

I did like the book, but, felt that the ending was a little contrived and rushed.

Date Posted: 10/25/2008 10:54 AM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2008
Posts: 310
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I agree with you both.

Here is how I saw the characters at the end of the book:

Margaret: I saw Margaret as the real "winner."  She married, kept her own family close, had a place of her own, and became more an an equal in her husband's eye. She does not have children of her own (even says she does not care for them) but helps Helen raise her nephew.  She still has her own money.  I believe she is content with her life and the choices she has made.

Helen: Grows up from a flirty girl with various marriage proposals to a young woman with responsibility.  Stays in England at Howard's End with Margaret and Henry. 

Henry: Is a much changed man.  His son is in prison for murdering the man who is not only Helen's lover, but the husband of his own mistress.  He went from a man who tells Margaret not to do things "for her own good" but to a man who relies on her judgement.  At the beginning he wants to leave the house to Charles, but in the end he leaves the house to Margaret, knowing she will leave it to the child.  He has been humbled, but does not appear bitter.

Dolly:  Without her husband for 4 years, will probably learn to take care of the children and herself a bit more.  I speculate that she will have trouble with Charles when he comes out of prison.

Again, some of this is speculation, because yes, the book does seem rushed at the end.  There is no dialogue of an inquest nor the thoughts of Charles as he goes to prison.  But the author did cover 4 years of their lives, from the beginning of the book to the end.  Of course, lots of details are not written down, but left to the reader to decide.  That is one of the things I loved about this book.  It gives you, the reader, a chance to draw your own ideas about certain events in their lives.  However, a chapter on the inquest would have been good.

And yes, I was cheering for Margaret as she stood up for Henry about spending one night in Howard's End.  I was glad to see she had reached her breaking point with him!

 

Deb

 

Date Posted: 10/25/2008 11:00 AM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2008
Posts: 310
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Oh....one more thing...

 

For all those who made it to the end of Howard's End... Are you interested in doing this again?  When did you want to start choosing another book? 

I have a few ideas, but don't want suggest them until more people are finished with this one...

 

Deb

Date Posted: 10/25/2008 5:36 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2007
Posts: 702
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Yes, yes, and yes.  At first, I was a little disappointed because it seemed that only two of us were reading.  But, that's picked up.  I belong to another online club (not classics).  We set a date to finish the book, send in questions to our "leader," and then we each answer them or most of them.  However, I also like this format, with the book divided into sections. 

Vivian

 

Date Posted: 10/27/2008 8:50 AM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2008
Posts: 310
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I think setting a finish date is a good idea.  That way, we can decide what to do next in a reasonable amount of time.  Some people may not have wanted to read Howard's End, and are waiting to see what the next book is. 

What other online book club do you belong to?

 

Deb

Date Posted: 10/27/2008 7:44 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2007
Posts: 702
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Deb, it's one that actually started from a book thread on QVC.  April saw me mention it on a pbs forum and joined it.  We choose from a variety of books, mostly current and older best-sellers.  It's somewhat of a personable club, in that we've introduced ourselves and share a little from some of our other activities besides reading, although mostly we discuss what we're reading (not just the selected books).

Date Posted: 11/1/2008 9:44 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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Well, I finally finished the book. Children and work consumed more of my time than usual this month. I would love to participate in another group reading but I cannot commit to it right now. I am coaching my son's Battle of the Books team and I foresee that reading the 12 books selected will be all I can handle til Battle Day in February. Whatever book is chosen I will probably try to read :-)

Back to Howards End. I had similar feelings that the ending was hurried, Margaret finally came into her own and stood up to Henry, and I was happy to see Margaret and Helen installed at Howards End. I figured Margaret would end up with Howards End in the end anyway :-)

Did anybody else feel a little sorry for Charles? He was not a likable character but it didn't really seem liked he committed manslaughter in the death of Leonard. Forster likes to leave some ambiguity in these types of scenes and , like Deb mentioned, also gives the reader the opportunity to draw their own conclusions.

Here I thought Helen was being a flake and she was really trying to be responsible with her departure from London. Of course, as a sister, I would have thought she would confide in her sister. On the one hand she doesn't want to worry Margaret but she only ended up worrying her more by not letting her know what was going on. I have three sisters - I would have dumped my troubles on one of them!

I thought this line, spoken by Margaret, perfectly summed up Henry, "He has worked very hard all his life, and noticed nothing. Those are the people who collapse when they do notice a thing." He noticed his son being sent to prison and it's like he deflated. Paul's returned to manage his affairs now, seems he has grown up quite a bit since his botched encounter with Helen.

Has anyone seen the movie? I am going to try and get a copy and watch it.

Date Posted: 11/3/2008 11:37 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,928
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I got the movie from the library and just watched it.  It was good, and very true to the book.  I thought it was perfectly cast, especially Helena Bonham Carter as Helen.  Her performance made Helen seem more human and made her actions more understandable.

Date Posted: 11/5/2008 2:04 PM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
Posts: 576
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Well I haven't quite finished this yet...but I also haven't read anyone's comments. I just wanted to say that I really can't picture Helena Bonham Carter as being Helen....(I looked up the movie online and saw she was in it...)...okay, I just peaked at the last post...Vanessa....I'm going to have to rent this this weekend or something to see if you're right :) for some reason I just can't picture her!  But then again, when I think of her I think of Fight Club and Sweeney Todd...that might be why...lol

Date Posted: 11/12/2008 1:37 PM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
Posts: 576
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So I realized I never left my "closing remarks" :)

Here's what I thought of the ending:

Margaret - I'm not so sure about her. I'm glad she stood up to Henry, but at the same time I felt like we were missing something since it didn't explain really how they ended up together at Howards End...I guess that wasn't important and what was important was that what Margaret was trying to do the whole book (connect their two worlds) finally happened.

Helen - I'm glad she didn't run off to Germany again. And I was waiting for them to end up at Howards End since earlier in the book the narrator hinted that they would be there. And it was nice to see how she settled down.  I guess it took for her having someone entirely dependent on her that she could love to make the change happen

Leonard - His death totally confused me the first time I read it. It was just so quick and then done with. Like it wasn't his death that was important but how the other characters reacted/affected that was important. And I kinda wonder what happened to Jacky.

Charles - I never liked him, and I'm glad he was held accountable...I would like to think that prison would change him and he would come out a better man..but I'm not sure.

Henry - It was interesting that to get him to "connect" and be a better person his entire world had to be crashing down around him. But I also felt a bit sorry for him too.

I thought this quote was also interesting: "Unmarried, Leonard would never have begged; he would have flickered out and died.  But the whole of life is mixed.  He had to provide for Jacky, and went down dirty paths that she might have a few feathers and dishes of food that suited her".  I just thought it was kind of sweet and I got the feeling for the first time that he felt more than just obligated to her. It would have been one thing if Forster had just said "He had to provide for Jacky so he begged" but the fact that it wasn't just to provide but to give her a few pretty things that she liked as well. I just got kind of a warm silly feeling thinking of a man being willing to do things for his wife's happiness that he wouldn't do for himself or anyone else.

Overall I really liked this book. I would be interested to read more by Forster.