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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
Mr. Banks and Lily Briscoe are strolling together. He is telling her he had been in Amsterdam and had seen the Rembrandt's. He had been to Madrid, but it was on a Good Friday, and so the Prado was shut. He had been to Rome. He asks if she has and tells her she should when she says she has not. Lily Briscoe had been to Brussels and to Paris, but only on a short visit to see a sick aunt. She had been to Dresden, but knows there are masses of pictures she has not seen. She thinks it might be better not to have seen them since they made her feel so unhappy with her own work. Mr. Banks warns her against such a view, telling her we cannot all be Titian or Darwin. He says there would be not Darwin's or Titian's without humble people like them. She wishes she could compliment him and tell him he is not humble, but she knows he does not want compliments as most men do.
They turn and see the Ramseys and Lily Briscoe thinks, "so that is marriage." They seem to be symbolical or representative to her, but in a moment the symbolical outline falls and they become real to her again. Lily Briscoe hears Mrs. Ramsey's greeting and knows Mrs. Ramsey is thinking they will be getting married soon. Mrs. Ramsey thinks she has triumphed that night because Mr. Banks agreed to dine with the Ramseys.
All four of them watch Jasper and Prue playing ball. They are all caught up in a sort of trance as the ball flies high. Then when the Prue catches it, Mrs. Ramsey asks have Paul and the others still not come back. The spell is broken and Mr. Ramsey feels free to laugh out loud at the thought of Hume stuck in the bog and a woman rescuing him on condition that he said the Lord's prayer. He laughs to himself as he walks off to his study. Mrs. Ramsey asks Prue if Nancy went with Paul and the others.
This chapter brings to completion the stroll out on the lawn. The reader realizes that the two couples' conversations have been happening simultaneously.
Mrs. Ramsey thinks Nancy must have gone with the others since Minta Doyle had asked her to. Nancy had gone off to her attic to "escape the horrors of family life" and had reluctantly agreed to go with Minta. Minta kept taking her hand as they walked along the road to the cliff and then letting it go. Nacy kept asking herself what it was that Minta wanted.
Andrew notices that Minta is a good walker and wears sensible clothes. He likes her rashness but thinks "it would not do." She seems to be afraid of nothing except for bulls, at the sight of which she would run screaming. She is not ashamed of her fear, however, and does not seem to be self-conscious about herself. She sings a song with the refrain "Damn your eyes" and they all join in and shout it together. Andrew thinks it would be fatal to let the tide come in before they got to the beach.
Paul agrees and quotes the guidebook about the islands. Andrew thinks it "would not do altogether" this shouting out songs and Paul's slapping him on the back and calling him old boy. He does not like the fact that they brought women on the walk with them. When they get on the beach, Andrew lets them go off on their own.
Nancy wades out to her own rocks and searches her own pools. They both let the couple go off on their own. Nancy crouches low and touches the sea anemones. She imagines the pool is the sea and imagines the minnows are sharks and whales. She casts clouds over her newly made world by holding her hand over it against the sun. She imagines "some fantastic leviathan" stalking in her pool. She lets her eyes go to the horizon and sees both worlds at once, "that vastness and this tininess." It makes her feel that she is bound hand and foot by the immensity of her feeling that reduces her body, her life, and the lives of all the people in the world to nothingness. Andrew shouts that the sea is coming in, and Nancy jumps up and runs and right behind a rock she sees Minta and Paul in each other's arms. She is outraged.
She and Andrew put on their shoes in total silence. They think of it as a horrible nuisance. It irritates Andrew that Nancy is a woman and it irritates Nancy that Andrew is a man. When they climb to the top of the cliff, Minta realizes she has lost her brooch. It is her grandmother's brooch and her only piece of jewelry. Paul Rayley searches desperately for it. Andrew is bothered by all "this pother about a brooch." They realize they have no chance of finding it since the tide is in. Minta shouts out, "We shall be cut off!" Andrew is annoyed by her. He thinks she and all women have no control over their emotions. Andrew and Paul at once become manly and different from usual. They decide to plant a stick into the spot where she probably lost the brooch and return the next day. Nancy thinks Minta is not only crying for the loss of her brooch. Nancy thinks they all might sit down and cry, but she does not know what for.
Paul comforts Minta and tells her he is famous for finding things and will return the next day. She insists that he not go out at dawn to search and he secretly decides he will search alone for it and if he does not find it, go to Edinburgh and get her another one. He thinks of all that will happen to him--"his marriage, his children, his house," and he thinks of how they will enter into solitude together with him always leading her. Paul cannot wait to tell someone that he has asked Minta to marry him. He decides he will go straight to Mrs. Ramsey and tell her because he feels that she is somehow responsible since she made him think he could do anything. He suddenly stops himself and says, "But, good heavens, I must not make a fool of myself."
Nancy and Andrew dimly recognize that the relationship between Minta and Paul signals the end of childhood in some way. Marriage is the step out of childhood. Minta's loss of the brooch is also a symbolic indication of the end of her childhood. Nancy recognizes she is crying over more than the loss of the brooch, but is not aware of what yet. Virginia Woolf writes this scene on the beach with the four young people as one of those vivid moments of one's life that is never forgotten, which represents a turning point, or a threshold.
She shows the boys beginning to act in manly ways, deciding on a plan and carrying it out. She describes Paul envisioning his married life in the dominating and proprietary way reminiscent of Mr. Ramsey. Paul lists his future possessions: "his marriage, his children, his house." Woolf sets up in this scene the doubt in the reader's mind that the marriage will be as glorious as Paul imagines it will be.