We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle Summary and Analysis of Chapter 10


Merricat and Constance develop a new routine to their life and consider themselves happy. The final chapter of the novel is dedicated to describing this new pattern as Merricat recounts a few notable instances that occur over a longer time span. Every morning, Merricat makes sure that the door is locked. Local children come to play in the yard, but the sisters have barricaded the sides of the house to secure it from others. Merricat tells Constance that they’re on the moon, though it’s not quite as she imagined it, but Constance agrees that it’s a very happy place. Later in the day, the sisters gather food from the garden—since they can see anyone approaching, they feel safe enough to go outside. They decide to preserve Uncle Julian’s papers, as they think he would have wanted them to. Since Uncle Julian’s clothes are the only ones that survived the fire, Constance says they’ll have to wear them, but Merricat insists she can’t touch his things, even though Constance says she’s allowed to. Instead, Merricat wraps the tablecloth around herself, letting Constance cut a hole for her head in it. Merricat buries Uncle Julian’s gold pencil by the water, and Jonas the cat goes into his room, which he hadn’t before, but Merricat never does.

Merricat says that Helen Clarke came to the door twice more, but both times the sisters refused to answer. On another occasion, a man comes to drop off a dinner his wife has prepared for the sisters, but again they don’t open the door. People continue to bring them food, always silently in the evening, trying to redeem themselves for destroying the house and leaving notes of apology. Merricat further limits her movements, deciding the creek is too far away from Constance, while Constance only goes as far as the vegetable garden.

Sometimes, Merricat hears people outside going by and gossiping about the house and the sisters, saying that they kill and eat little children. Charles also comes back briefly, but even Constance won’t let him in, laughing at his pleas for them to open the door along with Merricat. Though he displays a shallow level of concern for the sisters, Charles also hopes to get the money inside the house. A boy is dared to sing the “Merricat, said Constance” rhyme in front of the house, and his parents leave a note with food saying that he didn’t mean it. The sisters laugh again, joking about the rumors about them. “We are so happy,” Merricat says to Constance, concluding the novel.


Merricat’s choice to wear tablecloths, associated with food, rather than Uncle Julian’s clothes can be seen as another victory for feminine power, which the novel closely associated with food. Rather than try on the clothes of other family members as she does earlier in the novel, Merricat fully embraces her power by outfitting herself in something with close ties to it. Additionally, the villagers’ offerings of food represent an acquiescence to Merricat and Constance’s fixation on it, showing that reality has begun to be altered to fit Merricat’s ideals. In sharp contrast to their earlier attempts to punish the sisters, the villagers are now punishing themselves, as Merricat might, for their transgressions.

Merricat’s magic, which can be seen as a form of witchcraft, slowly attaches itself to the house as rumors spread of what the sisters have done and can do. This represents a victory of Merricat’s vision of reality as others accept the power she wields.

Charles’s final return allows for a decisive victory over him as Constance, along with Merricat, denies him entry without even considering acting otherwise. This allows Constance to offer penance to Merricat for trusting him in the first place, just as the villagers do to the sisters. When Constance simply laughs at Charles, it is the ultimate display of power, simply dismissing him rather than using energy to hate or fear him. Indeed, the sisters have begun to laugh at all outsiders, no longer afraid of them like before—instead, they’re the ones who are feared.