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Chapters 22, 23, and 24


The servants are all confused and disturbed by the quick changes, and the governess walks about with a show of firmness to prove her authority. Miles does not show up in the schoolroom, and she doesn't see him until dinner. She is worried about how to begin to make reference to what is happening with Miles, but resolves that his extraordinary intelligence will help her save him. Miles opens the conversation by asking how sick Flora is. The governess answers that Bly was disagreeing with her, but she'll feel much better in London. Their dinner is over quickly, due to the emotion of the occasion. The governess reflects quickly, when the waiter takes the dishes and leaves, that she and Miles are like a young couple on a wedding journey who feel shy in the presence of the waiter. At that moment, Miles says to her: "so we're alone."


The governess picks up some sewing to steady herself and hide her emotions. Miles looks out the window, but the governess feels sure that this time both he and she see no apparition through it. The window becomes an image of failure, she imagines, and takes this as a hopeful sign. She tells him that she's remained not as work-he's so far beyond her now-but because of the great interest she takes in his welfare, as she told him on the night of the blown out candle. Miles grows nervous. She notices fear in him, and asks him again to tell her what he did at school. He looks visibly in pain now, and says he'll tell her everything, but not now-he needs to talk to Luke first. She says that's fine if he'll just tell her one small thing-whether he took her letter from the hall table.


Quint immediately appears in the window, which at first overwhelms the governess. She regains herself quickly, and observes sweat on Miles' forehead as he admits he took it. She moans in joy and embraces him as she keeps an eye on the thing in the window. She asks him if he stole letters at school, and he says no, he said things. She asks if that was enough, and he says "they" thought so. He said things to boys that he liked, and they said things to the boys that they liked, and eventually it got to the headmaster. She asks him what he said. Quint blazes up again, and she shouts "no more" at the apparition. Miles asks if "she" is here, but when the governess doesn't understand right away he shouts, "Miss Jessel!" She says no, but the "coward horror" is at the window. Miles says, "it's he?" She pretends not to understand and he cries, "Peter Quint-you devil!" He cranes his neck and can't see anything. She tells him it doesn't matter any more, because she has him now, and the apparition has lost him forever. Miles stares around again, sees nothing, utters the cry of a creature hurled over an abyss, and dies. It takes the governess, who is holding him tightly, a minute to realize that his heart has stopped beating.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Framing Scene
Chapters 1, 2, and 3
Chapters 4, 5, and 6
Chapters 7, 8, and 9
Chapters 10, 11, and 12
Chapters 13, 14, and 15
Chapters 16, 17, and 18
Chapters 19, 20, and 21
Chapters 22, 23, and 24


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