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Chapters 45-46

We started our discussion on Maurice on the late May bank holiday. Today, on the August bank holiday, it's time to tackle the final two chapters of the novel.

At the end of Chapter 44, Maurice felt that love had failed: it wasn't enough to keep them together. At the beginning of Chapter 45, a few days later, he's making a final bid for it by going to Southampton to catch a final glimpse of Alec. He hasn't planned the details very carefully, so when he can't spot Alec straightaway, he's totally unprepared for having to engage in small talk with Alec's brother, father and mother. He's even more shaken by the sudden appearance by Mr Borenius, and feels even more exposed, having come without a good reason.


But when the time comes for non-passengers to leave the ship, Alec still hasn't arrived, and Maurice suddenly understands what it means: he's staying in England. And Maurice is confident he knows where he'll be: in the boathouse at Penge. It turns out Alec sent him a telegram but he missed it, having gone to Southampton.

Boathouse by karenwithak on Flickr, used under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No derivate works licence

'And now we shan't be parted no more, and that's finished.' could be the final words of the novel's happy ending, but they aren't. In fact, there's another whole chapter in which Maurice confides in Clive. Clive doesn't understand at all, struggles to take it all in and fights with his feelings of nausea in between, and in the end Maurice disappears into the night without a word.

A couple of questions for you:

  • When reading for the first time, were you surprised Alec missed his ship?

  • What do you make of the final chapter? Why do you think Forster chose to end the novel with Clive rather than Maurice and Alec in the boathouse?

  • What do you think of Clive's reaction to Maurice's confession?

Photo credits:
Boathouse by karenwithak on Flickr, used under Creative Commons Attribution-Non commercial-No derivate works licence

(no subject)

Date: 2009-09-01 08:44 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] into_the_greenwood
You know, I think I knew what happened before I read the book, so I don't know if I would be surprised at him missing his ship or not. It seems to me, though, that Maurice had moved to a different place with Alec, which could have been considered a positive place to leave him, even had Alec sailed. But the whole point of the book was the happy ending, so i think they had to end up together and i would have been surprised if maurice had been left alone at the end without Alec.

I think the last chapter of the book would have been better had it mirrored the film, where Maurice sees Clive first - to close the book - and then goes to Alec,never to leave him. however, i think he probably chose to have it the other way around because Maurice was acting on instinct when he went to the boathouse, he had no idea if Alec would be there, and by the time he arrived it was dusk,so I expect he had a sense of urgency about him...what if Alec thought he wasn't coming and left. So, I think Forster's intention was to get maurice to the boathouse as quickly as maurice could get there. And after his reunion with Alec, he could then consider closure with Clive, knowing that he (M) loved and was loved in return.

Clive's reaction? Couldn't expect anything else, really. Totally in keeping with his new persona of MP and country landowner. Elements of remembrance, of course, which mean that no matter how much he might try, he couldn't forget everything. But...his loss. I wonder, though, how much he had not understood Maurice all those years. His incomprehension that Maurice would or could love a gamekeeper seems to say to me that he never really 'got' Maurice....which means, of course, that I can finish the discussion full in the knowledge that Maurice and Clive were always doomed and that they weren't right for each other from the start! :D

I've loved this discussion, has really made me think about the book. :) And am so pleased you got a lovely pic of the boathouse - I had been hunting for one in every chapter it's mentioned, but to no avail. It's just the right pic. :)