A Handful of Dust - Chapter Three, Hard Cheese on Tony: Part Two Summary & Analysis

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Chapter Three, Hard Cheese on Tony: Part Two Summary

Tony expects Brenda home on the weekend and invited Jock for a visit, and begins counting the days until Friday. Tony is disappointed when on Thursday he receives a note from Jock saying that he can't get away from London and hopes to travel to Hetton a few weeks later. Brenda also sends Tony a disheartening message, letting him know that she will arrive on Saturday rather than Friday and with an entourage of friends and servants. With his weekend plans altered, Tony tries to find a way to pass his day on Friday. He invites John Andrew with him to an area called Little Bayton; a trip the child had anticipated for weeks. However, John Andrew is stubborn and is still angry with Tony over their argument earlier in the week. He rudely turns down his father's invitation and is also counting the moments until Brenda arrives at Hetton.

Brenda brings her friends Polly and Veronica with her as well as Mrs. Beaver to offer suggestions on transforming a rarely-used room into a sitting room for Brenda. Tony is immediately annoyed as the four women criticize the style of his home, and in the end he leaves them to their plans. For the few moments that Brenda and Tony are alone he tries to find an ally in her against the other women and their outlandish ideas, but Brenda brushes him off sweetly. She spends the rest of the day with her friends while Tony sits apart from them, reading. Later in the night, he waits for the four women to leave Brenda's room before he tries to steal more time with her. Brenda is still uninterested and deters Tony with claims of fatigue.

On Sunday morning, Tony makes excuses for why Brenda has not joined him for service. Afterward he picks flowers for himself and the women from one of the greenhouses. Back at the house he walks in on the women's laughter after making a bet about what color his lapel would be. The women leave Hetton early enough to get to London before dinner. Brenda feels no remorse for her actions and spends the time berating the house at Hetton and plotting to match Tony up with another woman.

Chapter Three, Hard Cheese on Tony: Part Two Analysis

The language in the interaction between Tony and Brenda is used to highlight the changes that Brenda's behavior has brought into the main characters' lives. There are key words and phrases that the reader is meant to take note of in order to make a distinction between the old life, represented by Tony and the new life, changed by Brenda. For example, the word "economics" has subtly become a new word for Brenda's infidelity. Brenda's messages to Tony while she is away are long winded and cover all conversational grounds, making it easier for her to avoid having conversations with him. The messages even ask questions as if they are having a personal interaction. The usage of words directs where each character's solidarity lies. "'You see,' Brenda explained, not looking at Tony. 'What I thought was that I must have one habitable room downstairs'" (p. 105). Brenda's language has become belligerent toward Hetton, Tony's most prized possession, and she isn't even interested in his opinion enough to look him in the eye while she chooses her friends over him. This situation is repeated when they are in Brenda's room, dressing for dinner. Tony blocks Brenda's view of herself and she asks him to move before they can address her statement that she is now living in her flat. Again, when Tony visits Brenda's room before bed, it is dark and they can't see one another clearly, but it is obvious that Brenda is not interested in Tony's presence.

John Andrew's allegiance is partially defined in this chapter as well. He is willing to find an ally in anyone except Tony, following the title of the chapter 'Hard Cheese on Tony.' "He [Tony] watched John riding in paddock. The boy clearly bore him ill will for their quarrel on Wednesday; when he applauded a jump, John said 'When's mummy coming down?'" Later when Ben takes Tony's side, chastising John Andrew for his behavior toward his father, he chooses to even side with Nanny over any ally of Tony's. "You ought not to say bastard or lousy in front of me, nanny says not".

This section contains 753 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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