The Painted Veil

The Painted Veil Summary and Analysis of Chapters 62-71


Chapter 62

A loud knocking awakens kitty. It is Waddington and Colonel Yü's soldiers; Waddington explains that Walter has fallen ill with cholera and Kitty must come to see him at once. Walter is dying.

Chapter 63

Waddington and the Chinese soldiers take Kitty through the night city to see Walter. He is extremely weak with cholera, and Waddington mentions that he may have contracted the disease during the course of his experiments. Kitty sits alone with Walter, begging him to forgive her and calling him “darling,” a word she has never used with him before. She wants him to have some peace before he dies. Walter's last words are "The dog it was that died."

Chapter 64

Kitty stares out the window, watching the gray dawn after Walter's death. Waddington says he will make all the funeral arrangements.

Chapter 65

Walter's body is buried in a field after a little funeral service conducted by Waddington.

Chapter 66

Kitty and Waddington walk back to the bungalow together. Kitty speaks of her disbelief at Walter's death, and her admiration for the nuns' way of life, though she sometimes worries that their religious convictions are only an illusion. Waddington asks if this matters, and explains his view of the Tao, a contradictory and beautiful way of being.

Kitty asks Waddington if "the dog it was that died" is a quotation, and he replies that he does not know. He says that Walter died a martyr to science, infected by experiments he conducted on himself. Kitty replies that he died of a broken heart, and she knows where the line about the dead dog came from - it is the last line of Goldsmith's “Elegy.”

Chapter 67

Kitty goes back to work at the convent and is greeted warmly by the nuns, who admire her courage in the face of her loss.

Chapter 68

Not long after, the Mother Superior explains to Kitty that she must return home to England; there is nothing left for her here. All the travel arrangements have already been made. Kitty is deeply aggrieved - she loves her work at the convent, and she does not want to leave, but she knows resistance is futile. She teases the Mother Superior a bit, suggesting that she might wish to see the scenes of her beloved France, but the nun answers indifferently. Kitty bids goodbye to the convent and the nuns. The Mother Superior embraces her with tenderness, and reminds her to combine both love and duty.

Chapter 69

Kitty enjoys her journey through southern China, and peacefully observes all the sights and people. Her time in Mei-tan-fu seems like nothing but a dream.

Chapter 70

Kitty sometimes feels guilty that she did not weep when Walter died. However, she has realized that though her husband had many admirable qualities, she simply did not like him very much. Though she would gladly bring him back to life if she could, his death has made her life a little easier. She dreads arriving in Hong Kong and confronting Charles Townsend, but eventually considers the matter with indifference. What does Charles matter? Kitty enjoys a great sense of freedom.

Chapter 71

Upon her arrival in Hong Kong, an unexpected face greets Kitty: Dorothy Townsend, who praises her courage and invites her to stay at her home. Kitty refuses at first, then acquiesces when she sees Dorothy's great emotion.


Chapter 63 makes an allusion to Oliver Goldsmith's "Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog." Walter's last words are, "The dog it was that died," which is the last line from the poem. In this poem, a dog bites a well-respected society man, and everyone fears that the man will die. To the surprise of the town, it is actually the dog who dies. Alluding to this poem expresses Walter's shock that he will be the one to die; it may also imply that Kitty is not as upstanding as everyone thinks she is.

Kitty mourns the loss of Walter and reasons that she would bring him back to life if she had the ability to do so, but she also accepts that she never loved him and even realizes that her life is quite a bit easier without him now. This indicates her reason and honesty; she mourns the loss of a person, but she also remains clear-eyed about the impact this has on her own life. She will no longer have to follow someone else who will make her feel endlessly guilty about her past transgressions, and instead she can make her own way.

Due to Kitty's pregnancy, the nuns make arrangements to send her home to England. Kitty must take the lessons she has learned in Mei-tan-fu and implement them elsewhere, which may prove extremely difficult.

This section also contains numerous examples of imagery, describing the people and scenes of southern China. These scenes emphasize the peace that Kitty feels moving through these places, feeling neither here nor there, but free and calm.

Dorothy Townsend describes herself as "second-rate" for being so aloof towards Kitty when they first met; this parallels Kitty's conversation with Waddington, when he observed that Dorothy thinks the women who fall in love with her husband are generally second-rate. Dorothy has no idea that Kitty carried on an adulterous affair with her husband, but her attempts at establishing a friendship are rather shocking to Kitty.