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

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Chapter Four, English Gothic II: Part One Summary

The wake of Brenda's decision to end their marriage is a hard time for Tony. He stays with Jock for a few weeks while Mrs. Rattery is out of town. He is approached with many suggestions about the right way to proceed with things between him and Brenda. Tony has no interest in reconciling with Brenda, but at a weak moment calls Brenda and try to fix things. Of course Brenda hasn't changed her mind about loving Beaver, so the three of them go around London trying to avoid one another.

Tony starts the arrangements for the divorce with a group of somewhat seedy lawyers which specializes in divorces. They inform Tony that with Brenda as the plaintiff, he has to play out a charade to show off his infidelity to society. The only problem remaining is who will join Tony in the charade of an affair. After Jock and Tony run through all possibilities of names, they resort to finding someone at the Sixty-Four club on Sink Street. They find the club practically empty but the two women they met the night they were out drinking are there again. Tony tells Milly his problem and she agrees to play the role of his mistress. and arrangements are made for Milly to travel by train and meet at a place called Victoria on the coming Saturday.

Chapter Four, English Gothic II: Part One Analysis

The structural make up of this society is shown through the ceremony surrounding a divorce. In a more modern and flexible society setting, a divorce would be straightforward in this case. Brenda committed adultery, witnessed by family and friends, and she would have to accept the consequences of these actions. Following Brenda's request for a divorce, Tony changes his movements and routines to make sure he doesn't see her. He is bombarded with advice that all support the idea of him refusing the divorce and ignoring Brenda's behavior until she gets bored with it. Most absurdly, he now has to act as if he is the one who is unfaithful in the marriage because it doesn't appear well if Brenda, the wife, has behaved in this manner. The ironic thing is that of all of the couples mentioned so far, it is always the women who are running out finding men like Mr. Beaver while their husbands carry on with other matters. They are the "brats" in Brat's Club, pouting over half eaten meals, stood up by their wives, carrying on an imitation of married life. Sadly, Tony trusted Brenda so much that it never entered his mind that she was equally shallow as the women she left behind when they were married. This is the reason that in this chapter, when Tony reflects on the errors, he thinks back to the beginning of their marriage, investigating what in Brenda's nature went unnoticed.

This section contains 483 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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