The passage outlined by this title is perhaps one of the most crucial points in the play. In it there are many important collisions of loyalties and decisions. Stevens must decide between his professionalism and his father. He also is forced to decide between emotion and his professionalism; as a result of this. Although he does decide upon his career, rather than seeing his dead father, and thus subside to his emotions. The first fact that is drawn to the reader s attention in this section is Steven s almost inhumane subservience to all the visitors to the house.
All his answers are based around: Yes, Sir. , No, Sir, I m very sorry sir. Even when he is informed of his father s death, one of the few figures that Stevens admired, he still only replies, I see... This is a part of Steven s shield of professionalism.
He is constantly secretive of his views, opinions and feelings. And when they are revealed, he becomes suddenly very defensive, such as when Miss Kenton found him reading a romantic novel. This sort of suppression of feelings allows him to remain completely rigid in his duties. Even when he sees his father is dying, a few pages earlier, he is able to remark; This is most distressing. Nevertheless, I must now return downstairs.
It is certainly not due to any lack of feelings that Stevens decides on this, rather the suppression of them. The great contrast between Miss Kenton and Mr Stevens is also revealed in this passage. Miss Kenton s lack of being able to understand or justify Mr Steven s reactions, or rather the lack of them, is perhaps influential on the ultimate outcome between her and Stevens. She is much more open about her feelings, and far more humane than Steven s. She is clearly upset at his father s death, and makes no effort to conceal it. Stevens, however, does his utmost to conceal his grief under a blanket of professionalism.
The only time during this passage in which he let his more human side appear is when he tries to explain the reasoning behind his actions to Miss Kenton. Miss Kenton, please don t think me unduly improper in not ascending to see my father in his deceased condition just at this moment. You see, I know my father would have wished me to carry on just now. Miss Kenton shows no real sign of understanding or empathy towards Mr Steven s views, instead she adopts an almost Stevens-like answer, simply replying of course, Mr Stevens to every question that he poses to her. It is somewhat curious that the details that Mr Stevens notices is nearly always related to his profession. He notices Miss Kenton s curious lack of urgency as she walks towards him and when she regains her composure.
Although these decisions that Stevens has to make are fairly important and dramatic, he shows no indication of needing a second thought over the matter, his professionalism always comes first. Even when Miss Kenton asks him to see his deceased father he is quick in reply. I m very busy just now, Miss Kenton. In a little while perhaps. It is by no means a mistake that Stevens appears to be more concerned with M. Dupont s sore toes, than his father s death.
I ll be on my way now. You ll see to arrangements Yes, Sir. However, if I may, there is a most distinguished gentleman downstairs in need of your attention. All his emotions appear to be suppressed to such an extent that he only laughs if it is the right situation and he does so very falsely. At one point during dinner, Stevens, I would have sworn you were at least three people, she said and laughed. I laughed quickly and said: I m delighted to be of service.
He appears to laugh only so that he can fit in to the mould of social life, a similar lack of emotion is shown by his attempts to banter. As social conversation is heavily based on the conveyance of emotion, it is hardly surprising that Stevens has difficulty with it. The effect of Steven s awkwardness in conversation is reinforced during his conversation with the young Mr Cardinal. Here Stevens himself reveals in his description that he lacks the understanding of social conversation by his lack of comprehension of Mr Cardinal s comments. He notices that Mr Cardinal is laughing and decides to join him in his laughter. The reader gets the impression that Stevens simply does not understand why Cardinal finds anything humourous, but feels the obligation to laugh to fit in.
Stevens also subdues any views on any topics. This should allow him to be talked to by anyone without disagreement, but it also makes him a somewhat boring and almost automated character. He agrees with whatever any of the guest says and replies in short answers, never expanding on any ideas. Nature, Stevens. We were talking the other day about the wonders of the natural world. And I quite agree with you, we are all much too complacent about the great wonders that surround us.
Yes, Sir. The variety of events that occur within these few pages, most noticeably the death of Steven s father, all have an effect on the story itself. The effect of professionalism is conveyed by Stevens and shows how devoted he is to his job and employee. Perhaps the most important comment is Steven s evaluation of the day, one which should be marked as a solemn, grief filled day, on which his father died. For all its sad associations, whenever I recall that evening today, I find I do so with a large sense of triumph.