Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | Barron's Booknotes
Until she is thirteen years of age, Cathy never steps outside the grounds of Thrushcross Grange unaccompanied. She, therefore, knows nothing of Wuthering Heights and Heathcliff. One day Mr. Linton leaves home because Isabella is dying; she has requested that her brother visit her and take charge of her son, Linton. When he leaves for London, Cathy is left in Nelly's care. The young Cathy takes advantage of her father's absence. She sets out for Peniston Crag alone and without Nelly's knowledge. When Nelly finds her missing, she searches everywhere. She finally finds Cathy with Hareton, her cousin, in the kitchen of Wuthering Heights. Nelly makes Cathy promise not to tell her father of her adventure.
This chapter marks a turning point in the novel. The story of the love of Heathcliff and Catherine is past, and the love of the next generation of the Earnshaw family and the Linton family begins. Twelve years have passed. The younger Cathy, the daughter of Edgar and Catherine, is thirteen years old. She is different from her mother, for she can be "soft and mild as a dove." She has a gentle voice and a pensive expression. Her mind is sharp and inquisitive mind, and she learns rapidly and eagerly whatever her father teaches her. She does, however, have a tendency to be impertinent, defiant, and sometimes perverse. If a servant happens to annoy her, she always threatens to tell her father, who is devoted to her and overprotective of her.
The most important development of this chapter is the somewhat unpleasant meeting between the younger Catherine and Hareton, the son of Hindley. While her father is away in London, Catherine, without permission, ventures off the Grange property alone. In her rambling, she goes as far as Wuthering Heights, where she encounters Hareton. She first mistakes him for the son of the owner of Wuthering Heights and then for a servant; both these suggestions of his identity anger the boy.
For the first time in the novel, Hareton is fully described. He is a good-looking, healthy young man, but Heathcliff has prevented him from receiving any kind of education. He has not been taught to read and write. He has never been rebuked for any bad habits. In fact, he is as uncivilized as Heathcliff was when Mr. Earnshaw first found him in a Liverpool slum. This is just what Heathcliff has desired; it is part of his plan of revenge.
Heathcliff himself is now leading a secluded life. He is generally depressed and too gloomy to seek companionship. The tenants describe him as a cruel, hard landlord.