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One Monday morning Cathy and Hareton uproot Joseph's favorite currant trees. Heathcliff promptly rebukes them for this act. Cathy retorts that Heathcliff has stolen all their land. He should not be angry with them for just a few yards of earth. Heathcliff is very angry with Cathy, but Hareton comes to her rescue. However, his respect for his guardian is still visible in his manners. After this unpleasant incident, Cathy tries to tell Hareton about what Heathcliff did to his father. Hareton refuses to listen to her.
Heathcliff confesses to Nelly that he has lost his desire to seek vengeance. He is governed by a single wish; he longs to die in order to be with his beloved Catherine.
It is obvious in this chapter that Cathy, now eighteen, and Hareton, now twenty-three, are closer than ever. Cathy, having become over-confident due to her intimacy with Hareton, speaks to Heathcliff in a very defiant manner. She tells her father-in-law, "If you strike me, Hareton will strike you." Heathcliff is furious at Cathy's boldness. He also knows that Hareton is not brave enough to strike him; the young man is absolutely tame in Heathcliff's presence, fearing him as always.
The second part of the chapter is truly significant for its psychological value. It is directly related to the central theme of the novel, the relationship between Heathcliff and the dead Catherine, his only true love in life. He reveals that all his past actions have been governed by his feelings for her. Day and night he is haunted by Catherine's vision; he sees her in every object around him, but especially in Cathy and Hareton. The boy is to him a reminder of his own lost youth -- his wild attempts to win Catherine for himself, his personal degradation, his pride, and his anguish. Hareton's love for the younger Cathy reflects Heathcliff's immortal love for the elder Catherine. Tired of his own anger and sense of vengeance, Heathcliff now longs for death so he can be united with the woman he has always loved.
Because he lost Catherine to Edgar, Heathcliff feels he is a failure. He explains that his entire world is "a dreadful collection of memoranda that she did exist, and that I lost her." He is so melancholic over the loss that he even loses his will to have his revenge on the children of his old enemies. Heathcliff says to Nelly, "I have lost the facility of enjoying their destruction, and I am too ideal to destroy for nothing."