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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
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