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

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Chapter Three, Hard Cheese on Tony: Part Five Summary

Jock's date is an American named Mrs. Rattery. She arrives at Hetton by airplane that she pilots. Tony had pictured a busty showgirl type, completely different from the tall woman in helmet and overalls that emerges from the plane. Tony decides to write a letter to Brenda, as he has been doing often of late. He tells her how much he enjoyed the time they spent together and lets her know how the construction in the morning room is progressing. He ends the letter by telling her how excited John Andrew is about taking part in the hunting expedition.

The next day everyone gathers for the event. Three packs of hunters, including Hetton and Pigstanton take part in the annual event. Jock and Mrs. Rattery ride together, while a young woman name Miss Ripon fights clumsily with her horse. Once John Andrew gets accustomed to riding Thunderclap in the free hunting atmosphere, he starts enjoying himself. A horn blows from the woods indicating that there is no hunt there. On the way back, a bus passes and everyone slows down to give Miss Ripon's horse a chance to get by without trouble. Everything is going fine until Miss Tendril's niece stops and puts her bike in neutral, causing it to backfire. The sound alarms the wayward horse and he reacts violently. He kicks Thunderclap and John flies into a ditch. It is clear that he has been killed. The news spreads through the estate; everyone unsure of how Tony will handle it. The police and all who witnessed report it as an accident as no one is actually at fault. Tony's first thought is Brenda and how to tell her. Tony has to start making arrangements, so Jock offers to go to London to tell Brenda the news. At first Mrs. Rattery offers to take Jock in her plane, but in the end she decides it might be better if she stay with Tony.

Chapter Three, Hard Cheese on Tony: Part Five Analysis

Tony has been subject to another tragedy in his life, reinforcing once again the meaning of the heading of this chapter. The tone of this segment trails that of the previous, wherein Tony is in great spirits but something negative is looming. Brenda's absence is the first indication that things are not completely right at Hetton. The next sign is Tony's continued ignorance of Brenda's true nature even further highlighted by the closing of the last segment. Part four of the chapter closes with everyone talking about Brenda's affair, with Tony only feet away and still clueless. Part five opens with Tony writing Brenda essentially a love letter. The letter also serves as an indication of more change; Brenda has been the one sending all of the letters until this point. The finality of Brenda's actions is highlighted. She no longer has any care for what is important to Tony or even for her son, who is also excited about the upcoming event. The foreshadowing in this segment is hidden in plain view. It is not until the tragedy of the chapter unfolds that the reader can note that John Andrew's mortality is mentioned more than once. Writing in this manner gives the reader the impression that the idea is so absurd that it is impossible, until it becomes a plot point. The final foreshadowing that the reader is left to anticipate is Brenda's response to John Andrew's death. The final exchange between Jock and Tony implies that once again Tony may be wrong about his wife's personality. Tony says, "You see she's got nothing else, much, except John I've got her, and I love the house . . . but with Brenda John always came first . . . she's been in London such a lot. I'm afraid that's going to hurt her." Jock's response is "You can't ever tell what's going to hurt people." The likeness of the name John in both the Last son and Mr. Beaver is also played upon here; "she's got nothing else, much, except John".

This section contains 686 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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