The Turn of the Screw: Novel Summary: Chapter 13 – 14

Chapter 13
The governess is becoming more completely focused on the children and their interaction with the ghosts. Even though she does not see the ghosts more, she is often convinced that they are around. She knows that she and the children are being unfailingly polite when they find ways not to mention the fact that the dead governess and valet are roaming about Bly. She is impressed with their good breeding at remaining silent on this topic because it would make her uncomfortable to speak of it.
Chapter 14
One day, walking to church, Miles does bring up something rather uncomfortable. He asks his governess when he is going to be returning to school. She tries to avoid the topic, but he insists that he should be around other boys, not around a woman and a little girl. He also threatens to contact his uncle and complain that he is not in school.
Chapters 13-14, Analysis
These children are essentially abandoned. Their uncle never checks on them, trusting the governess completely. Any way one reads it, she is failing in her responsibilities. If there really are ghosts, she should do something about it. Much as she wishes to be polite and get along with the children, she needs to intervene if she thinks their welfare is threatened. If there are not ghosts, then the governess is at best obsessed and at worst insane, and this is not a healthy environment for children. However, she is in charge of the house, so her interpretation of the situation reigns, and the master is not there to put someone more competent into the role. Ghosts or not, she is not proving very fit to be raising the children.
Even though they do not speak of what is the matter, it is clear that Miles knows something is wrong. He may be concerned about whatever got him kicked out of school or he may be concerned that the governess seems not quite right, but he knows she is thinking something unfavorable.He asks her “Does my uncle think what you think?” (74). It is unclear what he thinks she thinks; if he really is seeing ghosts, presumably he is referencing the ghosts, which is what the governess thinks. If he is not seeing ghosts, he is probably making reference to the misbehavior that caused the school to dismiss him. What is clear is that this young boy realizes that he needs to take control of his governess because she is out of control.