Mrs. Dalloway

“But suppose Peter said to her, “Yes, yes, but your parties – what’s the sense of your parties?” all she could say was (and nobody could be expected to understand): They’re an offering; which sounded horribly vague.” (118)

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1925. Print.

In this scene, Clarissa is contemplating the reasons she planned and hosted parties. The narration before this quote says, “what she liked was simply life” and she goes on to say out loud, even though she is alone, “That’s what I do it for”. No one is around to hear her talk through this justification, even though she sounds like she is trying to prove her point to someone. It almost seems like, by saying it out loud, she is trying to prove it to herself. She goes on to think, through free indirect discourse narration, “but suppose Peter said to her”. Attempting to convince herself that having these parties is just something she liked to do, Clarissa shifts to thinking about what Peter would say to her, knowing him well enough that he would question her. This sentence hints at Clarissa possibly being a little insecure, especially regarding Peter’s opinion of her. She not only thinks about his opinion, but also thinks of what everyone else would think in response to his doubt. She thinks, “nobody could be expected to understand” acknowledging the fact that she is aware no one else would back her up when she defended herself. But this is an entirely hypothetical situation, as Peter hasn’t even said anything yet. She even acknowledges that her answer would sound “horribly vague”. This style of thinking is common throughout the novel, as characters tend to get lost in their thoughts.

Leave a Reply