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Wuthering Heights Chapters 19-20 Summaries

Instructor: Ian Matthews

Ian teaches college writing and has a Master's in Writing and Publishing

In chapters 19 and 20 of 'Wuthering Heights' by Emily Bronte, Heathcliff's estranged wife Isabella Linton is dead. Their son Linton is brought back to the moors to be reunited with his father. Surprise: it doesn't go well. Here's what happens.

Chapter 19: A Letter

Edgar Linton sends a letter home to Thrushcross Grange with the news that Isabella has died. He'll be coming home soon, and he needs Nelly to get mourning clothes for Cathy and arrange for a room and such for Isabella and Heathcliff's son, Linton Heathcliff. She does, and Cathy and the house are ready by the time Edgar and his nephew arrive.

Cathy is mostly unaffected by Isabella's passing -- mostly, she's just excited to meet her cousin and have her dad back at home. Edgar and Cathy's reunion is a happy one, and Nelly looks into the carriage to see Linton. He's a scrawny little guy, the spitting image of Edgar. Cathy is happy to meet him, but he really just wants to go to bed.

Linton's Gotta Go

The kids go to bed after tea that evening, and Edgar and Nelly wonder if they'll be able to keep Linton around the house. They don't wonder for long; Joseph shows up when they're putting the tea away and says that Heathcliff wants Linton to stay with him up at Wuthering Heights.

Joseph is ready to pull Linton out of his bed and haul him up to Wuthering Heights if he has to. Nelly doesn't want him to make a fuss that night, and Edgar is finally able to stop Joseph from going into the boy's bedroom. He gets Joseph to agree to let Linton spend the night at Thrushcross and go up to the house in the morning. It breaks Edgar's heart to let it happen -- he promised Isabella, his sister, that he'd care for Linton, and letting Heathcliff at him is basically the exact opposite -- but that's the way it has to be.

Chapter 20: An Early Start

Edgar advises Nelly to take Linton away early the next morning, before Heathcliff can come down and take the boy himself. They agree not to tell Cathy anything about where he's gone, because Edgar doesn't want her to get mixed up with Heathcliff and all the nastiness up at Wuthering Heights. Nelly wakes the boy up at five o'clock to bring him up to the house.

Father Meets Son

Isabella never actually told Linton that he had a father, so he's pretty curious to see what Heathcliff is like. While Nelly is getting him ready to travel, he spends a long time asking questions, which she ducks or ignores. Linton grows more and more uneasy as he finds out that Cathy's not coming along and neither is Edgar -- he doesn't want to go without them, he says.

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