The Rainbow: Chapter 9 - Summary and Analysis

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The Marsh and the Flood


      Tom Brangwen. The action now once again moves to the Marsh Farm. The two boys Tom and Fred had grown up into fine young men. Tom was rather a short, good-looking youth with crisp black hair and soft, dark, possessed eyes. He was intelligent and from High School went to London for study there. He became the favorite pupil of an engineer. He went to America and then to Germany, where he took up service. But he was a regular visitor to the Marsh Farm. He also became the representation of the Superior foreign element in the Marsh, he was curiously attractive, well-dressed, reserved, having by nature a subtle, refined manner.

      Fred Brangwen. Fred, the younger brother was a true Brangwen, large boned, blue-eyed English. He was his father’s very son, a successor to him on the farm. The brothers loved each other passionately. The boys were gentlemen. Fred was sensitive and fond of reading.

      Tom - the Father. With the passing time Tom had matured and grown old. He was now fairly well off and drank in the hotels and inns with better class farmers and. proprietors. He became indolent and ease-loving and confined himself to the transactions. His wife Lydia was there with him, a different being from himself. Yet somewhere vitally connected with him.

      Tom and the Flood. One evening, Tom Brangwen spent the evening drinking at the Angel Inn in Nottingham. He set off for home in torrential rain. He was just sober enough to find his way to Cossethay and the farm, but there he found several inches of water already covering the ground and the stable and outhouses were awash. He was puzzled by the increasing volume of water so he set off to find where it was all coming from but half-drunk, he stumbled and fell and unable to rise, he was carried away by the flood waters. The banks of the canal had burst. He died and his swollen body drifted passively on the sweeping current next morning, his body was discovered and was taken to the Yew cottage. His death was a great shock to Anna. She now remembered her girlhood intimacy with him, and was ill with remorse. Tom and Fred were also deeply moved.

      Lydia. The widow, Lydia went pale at the sight of the majesty of death. He was now beyond her, beyond time and place. She lost all sense of daily routine. She was afraid of passion, of storm and noise of life, and wished to be left alone. She wanted to be beyond it all to know the peace and innocence of age. She often stood at the garden and watched with delight the children at play.

      Lydia and Ursula. At this time Lydia's chief friend was Ursula, her granddaughter who used to visit her every Sunday with some gift or the other. Lydia began to tell her about her Polish grandfather, Paul Lensky. She remembered how she had been a mere girl when she had married the Polish doctor. She had been almost a slave. A subordinate to him. He had been too busy to understand her or to make her understand his ideas. There had been no companionship between them but only sub-ordinations. But Tom Brangwen, her second husband was different, he had served her. He had come to her and taken from her. To one she had been a naked little girl-bride running to serve him. The other she loved out of fulfillment, because he was good and had given her being, because he had served her honorably, and became her man, one with her. Now she turned to Ursula and sought a friend in her. She told Ursula: “Some man will love you, child, and I hope it will be somebody who will love you for what you are and not for what he wants of you. We have a right to what we want.” Ursula was frightened by all this talk about the big past and clung to her grandmother as the center of peace and security.


      The first cycle of the Brangwen’s history ends with Tom’s death, but continuity is preserved through Ursula's visits to her grandmother and her dim understanding of her Polish heritage. We are given a vivid description of the flood and the reaction of the various characters towards it. There is a realistic depiction of Lydia’s mental condition after Tom’s death. In fancy we move with Lydia Brangwen to her girlhood, and follow her through the vicissitudes of her life with her first husband. Her personality is rounded up and we are given a peep into her suffering soul.

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