Summary: Chapter I
Paul, Minta, Andrew, Prue, and Lily return from the beach. One by one, they retire to their rooms and shut off their lamps. The house sinks into darkness, except for the room of Augustus Carmichael, who stays up reading Virgil.
Summary: Chapter II
Darkness floods the house. Furniture and people seem to disappear completely. The wind creeps indoors and is the only movement. The air plays across objects of the house—wallpaper, books, and flowers. It creeps up the stairs and continues on its way. At midnight, Carmichael blows out his candle and goes to bed.
Summary: Chapter III
Nights pass and autumn arrives. The nights bring destructive winds, bending trees and stripping them of their leaves. Confusion reigns. Anyone who wakes to ask the night questions “as to what, and why, and wherefore” receives no answer. Mrs. Ramsay dies suddenly. The following morning, Mr. Ramsay wanders through the hallway, reaching out his arms for her.
Summary: Chapter IV
The contents of the house are packed and stored. The winds enter and, without the resistance of lives being lived, begin to “nibble” at the possessions. As it moves across these things, the wind asks, “Will you fade? Will you perish?” The objects answer, “We remain,” and the house is peaceful. Only Mrs. McNab, the housekeeper, disturbs the peace, as she arrives to dust the bedrooms.
Summary: Chapter V
Mrs. McNab makes her way through the house. She is old and weary and hums a tune that bears little resemblance to the joyous song of twenty years earlier. As she cleans the house, she wonders how long it all will endure. Some pleasant memory occurs to the old woman, which makes her job a bit easier.
Summary: Chapter VI
It is spring again. Prue Ramsay marries, and people comment on her great beauty. Summer approaches, and Prue dies from an illness connected with childbirth. Flies and weeds make a home in the Ramsays’ summerhouse. Andrew Ramsay is killed in France during World War I. Augustus Carmichael publishes a volume of poetry during the war that greatly enhances his reputation.