A Handful of Dust - Study Guide Chapter Two, English Gothic: Part Three Summary & Analysis

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Chapter Two, English Gothic: Part Three Summary

Brenda is staying at Marjorie's while in London. The two are getting dressed for separate dinners followed by Polly's party where they plan to meet up. All of the women who don't have escorts for the evening are looking for Beaver, but he has already committed to an evening with Brenda. As they make their way to dinner, Beaver tries to kiss Brenda, but she turns down his advances. It is clear that she wants his advances but she wants to keep the upper hand in the situation. She allows him the lead from time to time, and in the end when they do kiss, he has been conned into thinking he is in command.

At Polly Cockpurse's party, Brenda merges back into her social circle with ease. Beaver is annoyed when Brenda leaves him alone because no one actually likes him. At the same time he wants to make his way into the circle, and at Brenda's side, he's accepted. The two take an early leave from the party and share a taxi. Brenda notes that she cannot ask him in that late but asks that he call her in the morning.

The next day Brenda tells Marjorie that her and Beaver's early departure was innocent, and she is unsure if he even likes her. Brenda returns to Hetton without hearing from Beaver.

Mrs. Beaver also wants to hear what is going on between Brenda and her son. He tells her that he can't pursue a relationship with Brenda because she is too costly. His mother, seeing it from a more lucrative point of view, encourages him to see her again. Beaver plans to lunch at the home of someone named Margot and he runs into Brenda there. He tries to use an excuse that he couldn't get through to her on the phone. She sees right through the lie and tells him, but she is still interested enough to send a message to Tony that she will stay in London for a few more days.

Chapter Two, English Gothic: Part Three Analysis

The reader has the perspective of Tony, John Andrew, Brenda, and Beaver in this chapter. This is a turning point for these characters because a change in each of their lives is indicated here. The chapter opens with John Andrew wondering where his mother is. It is clear that he is unaccustomed to having his mother away from Hetton. Tony is a little annoyed that Brenda is socializing with people he doesn't care for, but other than that he isn't bothered by Brenda's absence. Brenda is at Marjorie's house acting like a silly child over Beaver. It is a direct contrast for how everyone else clearly feels about him. The reader is even left without any reason to find him charming or likeable. Nonetheless, Brenda tries playing cat and mouse with him even when it is clear that he isn't interested. She avoids his affections, only to make advances later. She tells him to call and can't help but call him anyway. She tries to keep the power of the relationship balanced in her favor, but Beaver's indifference tips the balance considerably. Brenda is much more intrigued by the idea of carrying on with a young man than Beaver is at the idea of scrambling to afford a rich woman. He is however; drawn by the fact that Brenda may represent a permanent ticket to the upper class social circle. It appears that this thought is what wins out in the end, "From Beaver's point of view, these old friends of hers were quite the most desirable people at the party, and he was delighted to be seen at their table."

This section contains 618 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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