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Archived 2015 Group Reads > OHB Week 10 - Chapters Chapters 109-end

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message 1: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 885 comments We now come to the end of the book, so this topic is for discussion of both the last chapters and the book as a whole.

For those who finished the book earlier and were holding back for fear of spoilers, now is the time to come out of the woodwork and share your thoughts!

We start this section back with Mildred once more asking Philip for help. His first response is to tear the letter up and throw it out, but he has second thoughts and goes, only to find that she is seriously ill. He suspects that she is back on the streets and has developed a sexually transmitted disease. His feelings toward her continue to be ambivalent; he feels a “curious physical distaste” for her, but still goes out to dinner with her continues to care for her medically. He tries hard to get her to give up the life, and she claims she has, but he disbelieves her and follows her one night, finding that she is still prostituting herself. It’s the end for him: “"I can't do anything more," he said to himself. That was the end. He did not see her again.”

We also find out that the baby died. Mildred expects him to be sorry, but in fact he is glad.

He is still working in the shop, but goes to Blackstable for Christmas vacation, and finds his uncle dying, but hanging on. Philip even considers killing him by doubling his nighttime medicine does, but fortunately doesn’t. Instead, he goes back to the shop and waits and waits for his uncle to die. It is another six months in the shop before he gets word that his uncle is near death, so he goes, and this visit indeed Rev. Carey does take Communion and then dies.

Philip is indeed left everything, which amounts to something in excess of 500 pounds, which is riches to Philip’s mind. And as he goes thorough his uncle’s papers he finds a letter from his own mother.

He is now able to return, after two years away, to St. Luke’s Hospital, where he will return to finish his qualification. He also goes back to visit his old school, an experience many of us have had with the mixed emotions he feels.

He now is back in hospital work, and we get a good look at the life of a developing doctor in late Victorian times and of the lives of the poor, who are served not by Harley Street physicians but by these in-training doctors, though Philip seems to be doing very well for his patients. He has some good experiences, such as sitting down to dinner with ‘Erb, and some tragic ones, with the death of a mother barely sixteen years old.

(As an aside, how interesting that in his day mothers were expected to stay in the hospital for ten days after giving birth; my wife came home the afternoon of the morning she had given birth, and my daughters the same. How things have changed!)

We haven’t had mention of the Athelnys for awhile, but they are, naturally, delighted by his change in circumstances and his ability to return to finish his medical education. Sally, we find, has a suitor, which is hardly surprising for an intelligent, modest, and attractive young woman. Mr. Donaldson comes to dinner and is favorably received by the family, but her mother is put out when Sally says she won’t have him.

Philip gets the opportunity to go as a locum to a practice on the South Coast to work for a very difficult doctor whose assistant is on vacation. He accepts, and we find that he is able to break through the crusty old doctor’s guard to the extent that he is offered a partnership. But his dream is still to travel, and he turns it down.

The Athelnys go annually to Mrs Athelny’s native village of Ferne, near Dover, for a vacation hop picking, which is a pleasant way to get out of the city for some fairly easy work among old friends and family. Philip is very comfortable in the family, who quickly and easily incorporate him in the family activities, including early morning bathing in the English Channel. Brrrr!

And now, to please those who many, many chapters ago were thinking wouldn’t it be nice if Philip and Sally got together, we see Philip gradually become aware of Sally as a grown woman, no longer a child. For me, this period was one of the most enjoyable of the book; after all the travails and troubles Philip had endured, he gets this period of peace and happiness. Gradually Philip comes to realize that Sally has been waiting for him all along, which is why she kept turning off her other suitors.

What I found interesting was when that when Philip said “"If you were very nice you'd kiss me good-night like the rest of the family," her answer was "I don't mind." Gracious heavens, this is what Mildred used perpetually to say. The same phrase, but what a difference between the two women and what they mean by the identical phrase.

And the kiss turns into something more in the darker shadow of the hedge. Maugham is every bit as explicitly non-explicit as Hardy when Tess loses her virginity, but in both cases we know what is being said by not being said.

And the next morning, Sally is as though nothing had happened. Does this ring true? Could any woman non-respond this way? Or is it that she is simply confident in her future? But she does talk to him in a new manner “as though what had happened gave her a sort of right over him.”

But they go back to London with nothing settled, really nothing much more said, and Philip goes to a job as house-physician at St. Luke’s. He knows he doesn’t love Sally, but he is growing fond of her; not love, but like. They are still seeing each other regularly, when Sally is thinking perhaps their times behind the hedge have led to pregnancy. What a fool he had been; all his life plans of travel and being a ship’s doctor and seeing the world endangered. He would of course marry her, and take the partnership with Dr. South, and make the giving up of all his dreams his wedding present to her.

And then she tells him it was a false alarm and the need to marry her is lifted, but he isn’t sure whether he’s happy about it. And now he realizes that he wants to marry her, if she will. And she will, because there’s nobody else she would marry, but why she asks would he because it would mean the end of all his dreams. But it appears that he has already made the decision that he should sacrifice those for her.

So he is happy, and she is (or is she?) in love, and “they stood for a moment at the balustrade and looked at Trafalgar Square. Cabs and omnibuses hurried to and fro, and crowds passed, hastening in every direction, and the sun was shining.”


message 2: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 885 comments For those who like a moderator to pose a few questions for discussion, here are a few I've been pondering.

* Exactly what is the bondage (or are the bondages) of the title?

* Does the ending seem like a reasonable organic development of the book, or is it tacked on to make a happy ending? Does it fit Philip's personality?

* Philip knows he isn't in love with Sally. Is that important? How important is romantic love to marriage? I like as good as, or perhaps even better than, love?

* Philip had such dreams for so many years of going to Spain, of seeing the land of El Greco (even to the point of learning Spanish), of shipping aboard some steamer to the South Seas (as Maugham himself did, where he wrote some of his best work), but those dreams seem to have evaporated so easily. Will Philip be happy settling down to the routine of a small town practice? Or will he regret the loss of his adventures and gradually come to resent Sally and, assuming they have them, the children who will tie him down for depriving him of his dreams?

And, what are YOUR questions about the book? What did you find most powerful, most persuasive, least persuasive? Were there aspects that didn't work for you, didn't ring true?


message 3: by Teanka (new)

Teanka Personally I loved the ending. So much happened in the last section, in the beginning Philip was still working in the shop, and he met Mildred for the last time, and in the end he was finally a doctor and going to be married. What I liked the most was that finally for the first time that I remember he admitted that he was happy.

For a moment there I thought it best for him to travel, he seemed so excited about it and depicted his future itinerary with such conviction. However, as you said, Everyman, these ideas evaporated easily when confronted with reality. I believe he's chosen the best path for himself. He realised that in the past he had always chosen what he thought he should do and not what he wanted to do. This rings true to me because we all noticed how he always wanted very much to get something (go to Germany, go to Paris) and yet when he got it all his own way, he always appeared disillusioned. This was the first time when he chose with his heart. I hope he will be happy with Sally.

At one point, when Philip still wanted to go abroad, I almost regretted that this novel was coming to an end. I thought there could be a sequel because the travels he depicted sounded so interesting. Ah well, I think I want to read Maugham's short stories collection now, from what I've seen there are stories describing exactly such journeys.


message 4: by Linda (last edited Aug 10, 2015 09:12AM) (new)

Linda | 1353 comments I also loved the ending. I felt like Philip's dreams of traveling the world would end up being similar to him going to Germany or then to Paris, that it would end up being something to do in order the escape the dissatisfaction of his life at the moment and look for something better. But when he chose to marry Sally, like Teanka, I believe he chose with his heart. The life that he really always dreamed of perhaps is a life that he didn't consciously think of - that being a comfortable settled life with a companion who would both take care of him, and accept and appreciate Philip taking care of her. Up until now, his relationships always were weighted heavily on one side or the other - Philip loving Mildred but Mildred not loving him back, or Norah loving Philip but Philip not loving her back. I know that Philip said that he doesn't love Sally, but I wonder if he actually does love her and just doesn't realize what love is? He's had very little experience in healthy relationships.

I would like to think that he will be happy in his marriage with Sally, while he is practicing medicine with Dr. South. The times in his life where I think he was the happiest were when he was with Sally and her family picking hops, and when he was taking care of patients. He will now be picking up these two threads of happiness and carrying them into his future.


message 5: by Jen (new)

Jen (jeninseattle) | 140 comments I also really liked the ending. For me, it wrapped up some of the big lose ends (Mildred, Rev. Carey, and Phillip's station as a doc for example) but also left enough things open (will he have a happy marriage with Sally) that I can still dwell on the characters. I don't personally like endings that tie everything up perfectly; likewise I don't like everything left undone.

I am left feeling maybe Phillip doesn't know what it is to be happy. By the descriptions of his interactions with the Athelny's and Sally I beleve that he's happy and content with them, in that familial situation. But then there is this business about him having to give up his dreams of travel to marry. And he does say that he doesn't love Sally - he says with words. But I believe she makes him happy - is that love? I guess I don't really know, but it certainly looks more like love than anything he ever had with Mildred. And would it be completely impossible for him to travel with Sally? Maybe he wouldn't be able to be the ship's doctor he planned, but could they not travel together? Sally seems like she would be game.

I am still struggling with the bondage question of the title. I suppose that at many times throughout the book Phillip was in bondage to many things - his anuth and uncle's expectations, his art, Mildred, his study, his work when he was broke. But then would it be fair to say he's out of it at the end of the book, or has it just changed. I'm really not sure.


message 6: by Renee (new)

Renee M I do have to wonder if Philip knows what love actually is. The only person he has said he loves us Mildred, but I think we've pretty much covered the fact that his "love" for her seems more like obsession. It's certainly not the first time I've seen people addicted to the drama of love rather than the loving. The work, the patience, the respect, the kindness, the support, the friendship, the compromise, the empathy, sacrifice, and selflessness that is the daily requisite of a loving relationship.

The "romantic" in me wanted to shout, "No! No settling! Go see the wide world!" But the realist in me (perhaps another kind of romantic) sees that he has hungered for love and family and place all his life. All his adventures have been a search for these things as he was being made as the person he had become.


message 7: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 885 comments Teanka wrote: "Ah well, I think I want to read Maugham's short stories collection now, from what I've seen there are stories describing exactly such journeys. "

Very much so.


message 8: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Newton | 52 comments I liked the ending. With so much of the book devoted to Philip's rash or foolish decisions, and his regrets, I would not have been surprised if the ending had been of that tenor, but was glad that we were left with a good decision on Philip's part. Like some of the other comments above, I feel that Philip does love Sally, despite his claim to the contrary. I think he has confused actual love with that mash-up of obsessive desire and loathing that he felt for Mildred. I think it was telling that, upon discovering that Sally is not pregnant and that he doesn't have to give up his dreams, "he felt no exhilaration, but only dismay. His heart sank. The future stretched out before him in desolate emptiness." I think this reaction is indicative of love. Telling himself he doesn't care about her is self-deceit; he's probably afraid to own it after the pain Mildred put him through!

I think the presentation of the ending fits Philip's personality. How many times did we see him fight for something he wanted, only to discover at the moment that he obtains it, that he didn't want it after all? I think he will be happy with Sally. I believe he does love her, and that he will eventually admit it; she will take good care of him and make him happy. He will pursue his career in a setting he enjoys, and will finally truly be a part of a large and happy family.

As far as the bondage of the title: I know he experiences bondage in many ways--to his uncle, to school, to Mildred, to need for money--but the one that spoke to me was his bondage to expectations and patterns of thought. I thought Philip's escape from enslavement to established concepts and beliefs, the realization that he was free to construct his own interpretation of abstract concepts such as faith, love, and success, was the pivotal moment in the book. That is just what I took away from it.


message 9: by Renee (new)

Renee M Another nice observation, Cindy.


message 10: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 885 comments Cindy wrote: " Like some of the other comments above, I feel that Philip does love Sally, despite his claim to the contrary."

That's a fascinating question, but I tend to think that he's right, at least in a way. It really depends, doesn't it, on what sort of love we're talking about. He certainly doesn't seem to feel for Sally the almost sick passion he felt for Mildred. Nor is it the non-love take advantage he had with Norah.

I think he genuinely likes Sally, and feels very comfortable with her, and realizes that life with her will be pleasant, but is that enough to constitute love? It seems to me that Sally quite deliberately seduces him that night, she wanted to give herself to him. But she does it so almost casually that it doesn't seem a romantic episode but more a purely carnal one.

All in all, I'm a bit mystified as to exactly how to characterize their final relationship.

But what I am quite sure of is that Sally's parents will be pleased, but that his aunt and uncle, had they lived, would most definitely NOT be.


message 11: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 885 comments Cindy wrote: "As far as the bondage of the title: I know he experiences bondage in many ways--to his uncle, to school, to Mildred, to need for money--but the one that spoke to me was his bondage to expectations and patterns of thought."

Very interesting observation.


message 12: by Nicola (last edited Aug 12, 2015 03:20AM) (new)

Nicola | 522 comments Everyman wrote: " It seems to me that Sally quite deliberately seduces him that night,..."

Again with the 'it's the woman who does the seducing'? Really?

How about, 'It seems to be that because Sally liked him for years, she was more than willing to accept his advances'? That seems a lot more accurate to me. I'd even be happy with 'encouraged them'. 'Seduced him' though? Poor Philip, having no say real in the matter but being so cleverly seduced by the carnally obsessed Eve, I mean Sally.

Please excuse the somewhat snarky tone Everyman I mean no offence to you; the suggestion of 'blame the woman!' is probably not intentional but I read it too much in real life and so am perhaps overly sensitive to it in other fields. It seems to me to hearken back to a sexual standard of it being the womans responsibility to be perfect in her behaviour and men mostly getting a free pass in this area. It should have died out with the end of the religious stranglehold over our secular societies but unfortunately it still seems to be alive and well. And it gets right up my nose! (as I'm sure you've guessed :-))

P.S. What I actually find extremely refreshing about a lot of SMs work is how he doesn't put the blame on either party. He always seemed to have a good grasp on the complexities of human interaction and could convey them well, no heavy handed 'let's make a villain and indicate that it's mostly all their fault' or 'x happened solely because of y's actions; q was just a helpless bystander and wasn't capable of doing anything'.


message 13: by Nicola (last edited Aug 12, 2015 03:25AM) (new)

Nicola | 522 comments Jen wrote: I am still struggling with the bondage question of the title. I suppose that at many times throughout the book Phillip was in bondage to many things - his anuth and uncle's expectations, his art, Mildred, his study, his work when he was broke. But then would it be fair to say he's out of it at the end of the book, or has it just changed. I'm really not sure.

No I don't think so, to be human, to be alive, is to be in bondage, it is an inescapable fact of our existence. And, as we are thinking beings we can be aware of this. We can manipulate it to a certain degree but we can never be free.


message 14: by Nicola (new)

Nicola | 522 comments Linda wrote: I would like to think that he will be happy in his marriage with Sally, while he is practicing medicine with Dr. South. The times in his life where I think he was the happiest were when he was with Sally and her family picking hops, and when he was taking care of patients. He will now be picking up these two threads of happiness and carrying them into his future.

I think he'll be happy, especially since he had to actively choose it for himself. The thought that Sally was pregnant forced him to think of the future as decided for him and he found that it wasn't unpleasant. Then he realised that he wasn't bound by duty to marry, but that it was actually something he dearly wanted.

He probably would have been contented had the first scenario happened but the fact that he had to admit that it was worth actively giving up his dream of travelling the world was a nice touch. At the end of the book Philip gets to make a real choice, and, based on his character, I think he made the right one.


message 15: by Jen (new)

Jen (jeninseattle) | 140 comments I'm also a bit mystified by the Sally / Phillip relationship at the end. I do think he'll be happy, and she will be too but it just harkens back to his sick devotion to Mildred and how he calls that love. Then again, I had many, many moments where I wanted to shake him in this book and yell - get it together man! So, just add this one to this list.


message 16: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 885 comments Nicola wrote: "How about, 'It seems to be that because Sally liked him for years, she was more than willing to accept his advances'? That seems a lot more accurate to me. "

I'll accept that interpretation, though I'm not sure my original was necessarily incorrect.


message 17: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 885 comments Nicola wrote: "Then he realised that he wasn't bound by duty to marry, but that it was actually something he dearly wanted."

Hmmm. I agree with most of that, but I'm not sure I would go so far as "dearly wanted." In my mind, it might have been a bit more like he realized it might be pleasant after all.

I don't think Sally is guilty of forcing the issue by pretending to be pregnant, but when she thought that might be the case it certainly jolted Philip off of the path he was on and made him consider how he would feel about marrying her. And he found that it would be acceptable, and then further decided it would be acceptable even if he weren't forced by circumstances and his duty as a gentleman to marry her.

But here's a question: if Sally had never thought she was pregnant, and so the question of an obligation to marry her had never come up, would they have wound up married anyhow? Or would he have followed his dreams to Spain and sea and left Sally to either marry someone else or be a spinster?

(Or perhaps for Sally to do a Persuasion and wait five or ten years for him to go to Spain and to sea, realize those weren't all they were cracked up to be, and come home to England and realize that what had been waiting for him all along was what would truly make him happy after all?)


message 18: by Nicola (last edited Aug 13, 2015 12:18AM) (new)

Nicola | 522 comments Everyman wrote: "Hmmm. I agree with most of that, but I'm not sure I would go so far as "dearly wanted." In my mind, it might have been a bit more like he realized it might be pleasant after all. ..."

I based that on his reactions after hearing that she was pregnant (thought to be). He's bitterly disappointed, crushed, his dream, years in the planning, ripped out of his grasp by his stupidity. And then he starts to think about and he has a complete reversal. I don't think anybody could lose a plan of a lifetime and in five minutes start to dream pleasantly about a completely different future unless it was something that was pretty amazing. People console themselves, but Philip didn't do that, he jumped right in to a full and happy life.

And then, it was pointless. He didn't have to get married after all! He could still have his dream. And.... no thanks. It's been superseded. A lifetime ambition, nurtured since he was a child reading about far away places, thrown over because, why? What possible reason could there be other than the realization that life had shown him something he'd never dreamed. And that was what he really wanted.

But here's a question: if Sally had never thought she was pregnant, and so the question of an obligation to marry her had never come up, would they have wound up married anyhow? Or would he have followed his dreams to Spain and sea and left Sally to either marry someone else or be a spinster?

Probably not. But that would have been another book.


message 19: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Flynn | 73 comments I am sad that this book has come to an end.

* Exactly what is the bondage (or are the bondages) of the title?

Many many bondages. I read through all of the other comments and agree with what was said previously. The one area of bondage that I did not see mentioned was the bondage caused by his club foot. Whether he limits himself or society limited him because of this defect it was certainly a constraint to his life. I think in many respects his physical defect led directly to some of the other "bondages" he faced.....it caused him to lack confidence which led to strained relationships with peers and ultimately I believe fueled his relationship with Mildred.

* Does the ending seem like a reasonable organic development of the book, or is it tacked on to make a happy ending? Does it fit Philip's personality?

I loved the ending. I fully believe that Phillip doesn't know what love is. I think he loves Sally. He had the chance to back out of the marriage and moving to the seaside town when Sally said she was not pregnant. But he didn't and he seemed ok with this.

I think being a small town Dr is perfect for Phillip. I believe he will find happiness and he and Sally will raise a brood of children together.

In a way, giving up his "dreams" freed him from his human bondage. Perhaps now he will simply live rather than looking to the next day and the next day and the next day....never allowing himself pleasure in the present.

* Philip knows he isn't in love with Sally. Is that important? How important is romantic love to marriage? I like as good as, or perhaps even better than, love?

He might "know" that he is not in love with Sally but I know that he is :-) Enough said.

* Philip had such dreams for so many years of going to Spain, of seeing the land of El Greco (even to the point of learning Spanish), of shipping aboard some steamer to the South Seas (as Maugham himself did, where he wrote some of his best work), but those dreams seem to have evaporated so easily. Will Philip be happy settling down to the routine of a small town practice? Or will he regret the loss of his adventures and gradually come to resent Sally and, assuming they have them, the children who will tie him down for depriving him of his dreams?

I think I addressed this above. Did I mention I love the ending? And in the end I really like the man Phillip has become.

As an aside, I did snicker when Mildred got syphilis. And was so grateful Philip never had an intimate relationship with her. I believe this is before the advent of penicillin so there will be no cure and she will ultimately become crazy.

Great discussion Everyman. I look forward to a future book!


message 20: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 885 comments Stephanie wrote: "The one area of bondage that I did not see mentioned was the bondage caused by his club foot.."

That's a good point, particularly because many critics contend that Philip's club foot was intended to parallel Maugham's either homosexuality or serious stuttering problem, critics differ on which Maugham intended. But Maugham saw both those aspects of his life as forms of bondage, so it's a good point that their surrogate in the book should represent a form of bondage for Philip.

And in a way, it's a physical restriction as real bondage is, which adds to the case.


message 21: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 885 comments Stephanie wrote: "Great discussion Everyman. I look forward to a future book!
"


All due to all the great readers and posters here. It was a joy to share this book and to re-read it myself after so many decades from my first reading. I think it really did justify its selection as an emotional powerhouse.


message 22: by Ami (last edited Aug 20, 2015 01:25PM) (new)

Ami Well, I'll be damned, I didn't see foresee "OHB" ending in this manner. Please don't misunderstand, I'm elated for Philip and how far he has come since the beginning, but it wrapped up a little too nicely for me on the surface. I thought surely it would have concluded with Philip having to sacrifice his dreams and settling on another course in life, which he did, but I thought he would settle and continue to be miserable on some level, which he is not; or worse that he would commit suicide? Regardless, I'm glad to see hope and light cast upon Philip's future...Something good did come out of his being a permanent fixture on his personal crucifix.


Philip even considers killing him by doubling his nighttime medicine does, but fortunately doesn’t
I was rather moved at the compassion Philip shows the Vicar towards the end of his life despite the momentary thought of wanting to take his life. In fact, it's probably one of the reasons I enjoyed this novel...The juxtaposition of emotions seen and felt through Philip.

Exactly what is the bondage (or are the bondages) of the title?
This bondage is associated to many aspects, not just one, I think. It's about man's bondage to himself, religion and people, etc. Philip is a prisoner of his own convictions...He suffers from an early stage in life and is hurt by it, but it's become such a constant in his life that he begins to enjoy it...He seeks out others to hurt him by self sabotaging situations, and likewise he enjoys watching others suffer at his hands as well. Living briefly in the Vicar's home, Philip is first introduced to religious ideologies that carries with him throughout the novel. Although he is not held to any one belief, he understands the strength and power faith can have on people. Then there's the Philip Mildred dynamic, which is also a form of bondage for Philip because he can't shake her, but this too stems from his enjoyment for suffering...No?

It seems to me that Sally quite deliberately seduces him that night, she wanted to give herself to him.
Oh, absolutely she seduced him and it follows the trend of those who have preceded in doing the same like Miss. W and Norah.

There are some similarities between Mildred and Sally, as Everyman mentioned regarding Sally's reaction to being asked to kiss Philip, but I also noticed it during the marriage proposal...She seemed indifferent. In Sally's case, I think she reacts this way because she really likes Philip and wants him to stick around, she wants him to genuinely desire to be with her.

I think it really did justify its selection as an emotional powerhouse.
Cheers to that...I know, I'll never forget this book!

All due to all the great readers and posters here.
Thank you, Everyman! I wish I could have adhered to your schedule better, but I was hell bent on seeing it through even if I was a couple of weeks off. As always, I looked forward to reading your assessments and critiques while slowly catching up. I enjoyed it :) !


message 23: by Renee (new)

Renee M Nice comments, Ami. It feels great to finish a satisfying novel no matter what the timeframe. :)


message 24: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Flynn | 73 comments Just something I found interesting. I just started reading Jude the Obscure. I will overlook the similarities of the characters in Of Human Bondage and Jude. But one thing I found interesting is that the Phrase "I don't mind" was used by a girl in reference to a request by Jude. This is the same phrase that was used by both Mildred and Sally. I always felt the phrase was impertinent but I wonder if that was simply a common phrase used at the time?


message 25: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 885 comments Ami wrote: "I thought surely it would have concluded with Philip having to sacrifice his dreams and settling on another course in life, which he did, but I thought he would settle and continue to be miserable on some level, which he is not; "

Well, hmmmm. Miserable, no. But will he be happy? Sally is a very nice person, but I didn't see any evidence that she would bring the ability to discuss art or philosophy or literature or any of the things that activate his mind and interest. He'll be down in Farnley, working mostly for the lower classes who appreciate him as a doctor but have no conversation of the level he's been used to.

For awhile live with a Martha may be warm and comforting, but after awhile won't he miss the give an take of intelligent conversation, having someone who shares his intellectual interests? He's a well educated man, but isn't he going to a place and a life where there will be few as educated as he (and no Internet to find such people on at places like Goodreads).

Okay, he did address this and thought to himself "He realised that he had deceived himself; it was no self-sacrifice that had driven him to think of marrying, but the desire for a wife and a home and love; ... It seemed to him that all his life he had followed the ideals that other people, by their words or their writings, had instilled into him, and never the desires of his own heart. Always his course had been swayed by what he thought he should do and never by what he wanted with his whole soul to do. He put all that aside now with a gesture of impatience.... His ideals? He thought of his desire to make a design, intricate and beautiful, out of the myriad, meaningless facts of life: had he not seen also that the simplest pattern, that in which a man was born, worked, married, had children, and died, was likewise the most perfect? It might be that to surrender to happiness was to accept defeat, but it was a defeat better than many victories."

He can say that now. But will he still think that after ten years of life shut away in a small fishing village?

I do wonder.


message 26: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 885 comments Stephanie wrote: "But one thing I found interesting is that the Phrase "I don't mind" was used by a girl in reference to a request by Jude. This is the same phrase that was used by both Mildred and Sally. I always felt the phrase was impertinent but I wonder if that was simply a common phrase used at the time? "

I think it was part of the English reticence. You can't seem to be too eager or too excited. I don't mind is a way of saying "yes, definitely" without emoting.


message 27: by Ami (new)

Ami Everyman wrote: "Ami wrote: "I thought surely it would have concluded with Philip having to sacrifice his dreams and settling on another course in life, which he did, but I thought he would settle and continue to b..."

Well, hmmmm. Miserable, no. But will he be happy?
It's little moments like the potential marriage to Sally, or Philip finding solace and contentment in the company of the Athelny's, doing well in his work, coming into a fortune, etc., that give me hope for Philip...But these are bandaids in the big spectrum of his life. As far as being "truly" happy in the end...I don't think so, but I hope he is.

He will only be happy as far as his understanding of happiness; similar to how he will love and will allow himself to be loved having according to what he has derived as to it's meaning up until this point. In all honesty, taking into consideration the time period and minimal advancements in medical knowledge regarding the psyche, I do think Philip's contentment will be short lived, Everyman. This is a character who is emotionally unsound and to his detriment, his tortures are deeply engrained and cannot be pacified for the long term with the intermittent application of a band aid, which is what I think he does. Philip's wounds cannot have healed in their entirety, and because of this, much of his negative behavior has become inherent; and nobody can hide from what is our true nature...It may lay dormant, but will always surface in some shape or form.

Man has to be content with himself; he has to love himself before allowing somebody else to facilitate those emotions within himself, and Philip does not fulfill this. Sally may not be the epitome of what Philip needs for a long lasting meaningful relationship, but who has? She's good for now, which is how Philip operates given his trend. In the end, Philip always gets around in life; so I don't see him straying from his original course (wanting to travel) for too long, he makes his way back...With, or without Sally.


message 28: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 885 comments Ami wrote: "Man has to be content with himself; he has to love himself before allowing somebody else to facilitate those emotions within himself, and Philip does not fulfill this. "

No, he doesn't. He still hasn't developed a life philosophy that will carry him through the inevitable hard times we all face. He thinks he has, but it's a completely untested new philosophy, and I don't give it any more hope of sticking than his previous ones.


message 29: by Renee (new)

Renee M Bleak, Guys. Realistic, but bleak.


message 30: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 885 comments Renee wrote: "Bleak, Guys. Realistic, but bleak."

Yep.


message 31: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 885 comments Everyman wrote: "Renee wrote: "Bleak, Guys. Realistic, but bleak."

Yep."


Is he one of those Thoreau said lived lives of quiet desperation?


message 32: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary Yes, I don't think Philip is the type of person who would ever be content. Happy perhaps in isolated moments, but generally, not.

I am sorry for ducking out of this discussion. I meant to read along, but I read a few sections then had to put it aside for a while and completely forgot about it - which is perhaps a comment in itself, but only on the section I was reading at the time, probably about 40% in. Then when I found the book again, I read all of the rest in a few days. By which time you guys had all finished...


message 33: by Bonnie (new)

Bonnie I wonder if Maugham meant it to be a Happy Ending, or meant it to be an ambiguous in the way we are debating ?

I agree that Philip does really "Love" Sally and there are all her positive traits and goodness of her family but... after all those years of living in intellectual capitals and dreaming of faraway places, I personally am worried about giving up on dreams so abruptly.

To me it would be a happier ending to have a compromise or combining of the domestic + adventurous lifestyles: Sally happily agrees to live in Spain for two years, her father's been teaching her Spanish; or together they plan a three-month honeymoon in Spain; or he gets a ship position where you can bring a wife; or Sally confesses she would like get nursing training and they will work together in a practice... I can dream too!

The fishing town seems too quiet after nine years of Heidelberg Paris and London. Also, Mr. Athelny was made out to be such a flake during the hops holiday. Philip & Sally may soon be stuck parenting seven children.


message 34: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 885 comments Bonnie wrote: "I wonder if Maugham meant it to be a Happy Ending, or meant it to be an ambiguous in the way we are debating ?."

I like to think that most great novels are at least a bit ambiguous in their endings. Because great novels are about life, and life itself is ambiguous.


message 35: by Alana (new)

Alana (alanasbooks) | 456 comments I liked that it was rather ambiguous. The whole conversation when they are deciding to get married left me scratching my head. I couldn't decide if Sally is being coy and fun, as she has shown she can be, or if she is indifferent, or if she's hiding her true, passionate feelings behind a facade of calmness. I think Phillip DOES love her, or rather, is in the process of growing to love her. He thinks love is passionate obsession, but I think he shows evidence of a deep friendship and a care for her that he's never shown before, which is far more important to a marriage than a brief period of passion in the beginning.

Frankly, I think Philip will end up more happy in the situation than Sally. I think he has learned to respect and appreciate her, perhaps even seeing the relationship between her parents, one of which is completely silly and lazy, the other who is almost all business and keeps the family together, and realizing that they are quite happy together despite their differences. I don't think he's really giving up a lifelong dream...I think he liked the IDEA of travelling all over, but honestly, he's been running from one thing to another that has never made him happy his whole life, and maybe he's realizing that happiness is not to be found "out there" but rather is what you choose to make of it. That's just plain growing up, which is a good sign from him. Sally, on the other hand, I think just wants the security of a home and some money coming in, but doesn't feel the need for the intellectual stimulation the same way Phillip does. I'm not sure she's capable of feeling the extreme emotions that Phillip has.

I for one am glad the pregnancy turned out not to be real, because if Sally DOES have strong feelings for Phillip, isn't it better to know someone WANTS to marry you, not just because they HAVE to? I think that puts them on a much better foundation in the long run.

The throwaway comment about Mildred's baby dying saddened me. Mildred seems not to care in the least. And I don't think Phillip was happy that the baby died, but rather was happy that it wasn't stuck with such a mother to grow up with, which is understandable.

"That was the end. He did not see her again." And there was great rejoicing among all the people! Hallelujah!

The entire time the vicar is dying, we got to see so much about the characters of the two men. Phillip scared me for awhile, with his thoughts about killing his uncle, but as was pointed out, he never gave in. The vicar seems to be so utterly trusting (until very near the end), even asking Phillip to advise him on treatment. Phillip could have advised things that made him worse, or adjusted prescriptions. The vicar seems to trust that he won't. Interesting dynamic. The fears he has of death actually struck home to me quite a bit. I believe in heaven and in my relationship with God, but as a human, there are moments when I have the same fears, the "what if it's all a sham? What if there's really nothing?" That's such a raw, human fear, and in a way it's comforting that others experience the same fears and emotions.

"He found it very comfortable to be heart-free and to have enough money for his needs. He had heard people speak contemptuously of money; he wondered if they had ever tried to do without it. He knew that the lack made a man petty, mean, grasping; it distorted his character and caused him to view the world from a vulgar angle; when you had to consider every penny, money became of grotesque importance: you needed a competency to rate it at its proper value." Oh, so many true statements and astute thoughts here!

He also thinks about his leg and deformity near the end and expresses gladness that he's had it because it's caused him to look at art and loveliness and to experience the world in a different way than he would have otherwise. He seems to have grown to accept it, also a sign of his growing up and maturing.

Anyway, I liked it as a whole. Maugham managed to make me horridly angry at some characters and to feel deep compassion for others (or sometimes the same person!) and I felt like I have known someone like every single person in this book. That's true-to-life writing, and he did an excellent job of it. Feeling a strong emotion about a character means that they felt real to me, which means they were drawn well, whether I liked them or not. Character development seems to be at the heart of this novel, which is about the bondage the world and society place on us, but also the bounds we give ourselves. Phillip bound himself in this idea that the better, real life was somewhere "out there," but I think he is looking for the freedom in being happy in one's circumstances as they are right now, not in some "someday."


message 36: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 885 comments Alana wrote: "Frankly, I think Philip will end up more happy in the situation than Sally. "

Interesting. I hadn't seen her that way, but rather as the sort of person who makes her own happiness out of almost any situation. She is a rock in the midst of a chaotic family; I had the idea that she will be the same with Philip being the one who needs more external stimulation to think he's happy. But you've made me question that now.


message 37: by Alana (new)

Alana (alanasbooks) | 456 comments I think Phillip KNOWS he won't have as much of that stimulation going into marriage, and he can be resigned to that. Sally may want him to be more into the more domestic things than he's capable of being and she may be disappointed that he doesn't find as much fulfillment in them as she does.


message 38: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (agapoyesoun) And still he appears to have an obvious club foot. Was all that pain and expense for nothing?!

I'm thankful that there is a reasonable reconciliation between Philip and his uncle. He still is not a believer but he still questions. He seems to be surprised and a little touched by his mother's wish for him in the letter.

During the hopping the intensity of feelings between Philip and Sally is palpable. Now when she agrees to marry him there does not seem to be any great spark of attraction. They don't appear to be in love, but then look where loving Mildred got him! Perhaps with their feet firmly on the ground they have a chance at making this marriage work. This 'love' thing may be overestimated. After all, in the wisdom of The Prince of Wales when answering the reporter's question on his engagement to Diana: Reporter, "Are you in love?" Charles, "Whatever love means." Whadda guy!!


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