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North & South - Chapter XXXV

This is a pivotal chapter in the novel; there is much going on and things are becoming apparent.

Margaret tries to rationalize her feelings & actions:

“She only understood two facts – that Frederick had been in danger of being pursue and detected in London, … and that she had lied to save him. There was one comfort; her lie had saved him, if only by gaining some additional time.” [page 271 – Chapter 35 – Expiation.]

The inspector talks to John (who is the magistrate), and John learns that Margaret denied being at the station. This information throws him into pain and a torment of feelings:

“The he indulged himself in the torture of thinking it all over, and realizing every detail. How could he have lulled himself into the unsuspicious calm…till he had weakly pitied her and yearned towards her, and forgotten the savage distrustful jealousy with which the sight of her – and that unknown to him – at such an hour – in such a place – had inspired him! How could one so pure have stooped from her decorous and noble manner of bearing! But was it decorous – was it? He hated himself for the idea that forced itself upon him, just for an instant – no more – and yet, while it was present, thrilled him with its old potency of attraction towards her image. And then this falsehood – how terrible must e some dread of shame to be revealed – for, after all, the provocation given by such a man as Leonards… How creeping and deadly that fear which could bow down the truthful Margaret to falsehood!” [pages 273-4 – Chapter 35 – Expiation]

He acts accordingly on his feelings for her yet …

“He might despise her, but the woman who he had once loved should be kept from shame…” [page 274 – Chapter 35 – Expiation].

He therefore decrees that there would be no inquest into Leonards death due to lack of medical evidence.

Margaret’s relief at this news is mingled with feelings of anxiety when she learns that this development is due to Mr. Thornton as she knows that he know she’s lied. This truly upsets her:

“What had Mr. Thornton done?” and “But the next conviction she came to was clear enough; - Mr. Thornton had seen her close to Outwood station on the fatal Thursday night and had been told of her denial that she was there. She stood as a liar in his eyes. …nothing but chaos and night surrounded the one lurid fact that, in Mr. Thornton’s eyes, she was degraded. … ‘Oh, Frederick! Frederick!’ she cried, ‘what have I not sacrificed for you!’” [page 277 – Chapter 35 – Expiation].

This last bit is particularly telling as it shows in what esteem Margaret truly holds John. Yet upon waking she denies this feelings even while realizing that John knew all and yet still spared her.

“But she pushed this notion on one side with the sick willfulness of a child. If it were so, she felt no gratitude to him, …” and “And under this idea she could feel grateful – not yet, if ever she should, if his interference had been prompted by contempt.” [page 278 – Chapter 35 – Expiation]

She’s becoming aware, slowly, of something in her feelings toward John, but keeps pushing them away – fighting them:

“She suddenly found herself at his feet, and was strangely distressed at her fall. She shrank from following out the premises to their conclusion, and so acknowledging to herself how much she valued his respect and good opinion. Whenever this idea present itself to her at the end of a long avenue of thoughts, she turned away from following that path – she would not believe in it.” [page 278 – Chapter 35 – Expiation]

She tries to fight her feelings & her understanding of her feelings for him:

“How was it that he haunted her imagination so persistently. … Why did she care for what he thought, in spite of all her pride; in spite of herself? … - why did she tremble, and hider her face in the pillow? What strong feeling had overtaken her at last?” [page 278 – Chapter 35 – Expiation]

Liz ♥ ♥

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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