The Professor's House

The Professor's House Summary and Analysis of Chapter 11, Section 1: "The Family"

This chapter opens in the Professor’s work-room one afternoon when Kathleen comes to see him. She tells him that Augusta lost some of her savings in a bad investment in a copper company which Louie had advised her against but which made a number of people in her church enthusiastic.

The Professor immediately resolves that the family will make up the loss to Augusta, but Kathleen says Rosamund refuses - Louie advised her against it and she needs to learn to heed him. The Professor promises to speak to Rosamund about it.

Kathleen then remarks on a purple Mexican blanket lying on the couch which Outland gave the Professor. It emerges that Rodney Blake, Outland’s old friend, originally gave it to Outland. The two discuss the possibility of finding Blake, and the fantasies the girls used to have based upon Outland’s stories of the West.

The Professor enjoys these reminiscences so much that he appeals to Kathleen to stay so they can discuss Outland some more. She simply makes a bitter remark about how Outland has turned into dollars and cents and she leaves.

The chapter closes with the Professor in a reverie.


This chapter presents yet another condemnation of the mercenary Rosamund and vindication of the perhaps misguided but ultimately sympathetic Kathleen.

Kathleen wishes to financially help Augusta, an old family servant, but Rosamund refuses, despite the fact that she is in the best financial position to do so. St. Peter is struck again with how ungenerous his daughter has become as a result of having so much wealth, and witnesses anew the cycle of resentment and jealousy dividing his daughters.

During father and daughter’s discussion of Outland, it is implied that the trouble between Rosamund and Kathleen began over Outland. The girls virtually worshipped Outland and his tales of adventure and discovery in the Southwest, and when he fell in love with Rosamund, Cather implies, Kathleen felt shut out.

Now, father and daughter feel the same about Outland; the Marselluses’ naming their new house after him and monetizing even his memory is repugnant to them both. Kathleen makes a bitter remark about how the rest of their family has turned Outland into dollars and cents, and how the Outland she and her father remember and cherish is nicer than the material success others perceive.

This, of course, is a direct blow to the forces of materialism, struck by Cather through the voice of Kathleen, the impecunious sister who is intensely jealous of Rosamund’s wealth. The reader is left to wonder, however: would Kathleen feel the same way if she had been the sister who was engaged to Outland and who reaped the rewards of his invention?