A Handful of Dust - Chapter Two, English Gothic: Part One Summary & Analysis

This Study Guide consists of approximately 49 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of A Handful of Dust.
This section contains 594 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)

Chapter Two, English Gothic: Part One Summary

Tony and Brenda Last live on the Last family grounds in a house called Hetton Abbey. The house was at one point very notable in society but it was rebuilt in 1864 in a Gothic style that has now become outdated. Even remaining family members believe it to be designed in poor taste, but Tony has every intention of keeping it as it is. He has plans to upgrade certain amenities after he pays off the estate's debts left by his parents' deaths.

Tony's mind drifts into his own thoughts as Brenda reads the mail. Outside, the Lasts' son, John Andrew, learns how to jump with his pony ,Thunderclap. Right after lunch, Tony receives a telegram with John Beaver's arrival time and he is thoroughly annoyed. He didn't think that Beaver would take his offer to see the house seriously and had put it out of his mind. Brenda suggests putting up with him for the night, and letting him sleep in the worst room in the house so he won't be encouraged to stay longer or ever come back. She also offers to keep Beaver company so Tony will have minimal interaction with the young man.

Brenda entertains Beaver very cordially while Tony is out of the house. After lunch, Tony takes Beaver on a tour of the house. Knowing what was expected of him, Beaver shows that he is aware and impressed by Tony's home and the treasures it holds. At tea later, Tony learns that Brenda has encouraged Beaver to stay one more night. The two entertain themselves with games while Tony reads the paper. Finally, Brenda wishes Beaver goodnight and goodbye since he plans to catch an early train. Out of guilt, Tony wakes up the next morning to see Beaver off.

Chapter Two, English Gothic: Part One Analysis

Each member of the Last household is complex in their own way. Tony is the head member; it is his family's estate that the family lives on and their way of life that the family maintains. Tony is very class driven but at the same time is not very interested in the social pettiness that surrounds this upper class. He has a love for the preserving the classic ways of life, represented by the Hetton Estate. The sign of the times however, is driven by fad, flair, and appearances. There is a hint that Brenda is very drawn to the lifestyle of the new age rich around her. She was once a socialite among them until she married Tony and her life became Hetton as well. Tony and Brenda's son is spoiled and quick with his tongue. His father has begun to groom him in the proper ways of the upper class but he is still an individual unlike either of his parents. In this segment, the rooms at Hetton even become characters. Tony sleeps in the Morgan le Fay room, known as a magician and half sister of King Arthur and said to have been unhappily married. She is an adversary to Arthur until Morgan uncovers the famous affair between Guinevere, Arthur's wife and a knight, Lancelot. The event lead to reconciliation between the siblings. Guinevere is the name of Brenda's room and Beaver resides in the Sir Galahad room during his stay at Hetton. Sir Galahad is Sir Lancelot's son, conceived when another woman dupes him into believing she is Guinevere. The rooms are used for foreshadowing the plot, the reader now anticipating the connections.

This section contains 594 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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