What Built Their Friendship!?

Howards End – E. M. Forster

I’m still stumped … not quite seeing the connection here between 2 very different women. How did they forge a bond strong enough to gift a home in a will???

Margaret Schlegel is an out-spoken liberal women enjoying her independence in Urban London. Mrs. Wilcox is a timid old woman that quietly wandered fields in the country side with no individual thoughts on the world.

She was surprised by how liberal and outspoken the urban women were at lunch. It was clear that Mrs. Wilcox held no such opinions and had nothing to contribute to the conversations. She stumbled with “oh, I don’t know” and “I’m not sure” – leading the read to think either she was ignorant and not well-versed in the topics or she truly has no opinions on the world.

Mrs. Wilcox explains their family discussions typically revolve only around “sport and politics” with very similar opinions through out the family. While her children are younger, she emphasizes that they all have the same values/thoughts so discussions are not such debates in their home. Perhaps it is not needed to have an individual opinion or voice within a family that just easily flows along with an overall consensus.

As a reader, my interpretation can of course be wrong, the only explanation is Mrs. Wilcox did not trust in her family to appreciate Howards End. Margaret knew how to appreciate a house as a home and the life supported with memories in each room. I’m thinking that the Wilcox family would not appreciate the small moments in the meadows, pig’s teeth in tree bark, light filtering through rooms full of memories – instead being greedy about selling or renting the home.

This proved true as they immediately rented the home instead of preserving the memory of Mrs. Wilcox’s favorite place or moving into it themselves. Even the newly wed couple (Charles and Dolly) did not want to live in the cherished home.

This appreciation for a home probably could have been more emphasized in the novel – otherwise it is hard to see the connection between the drastically different personalities that would result in a large house as gift.

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