The Remains of the Day: Key Quotes

SELECTED QUOTATIONS AND KEY MOMENTS

5 ‘Miss Kenton’s letter set off a certain train of ideas to do with professional matters’

‘A series of small errors’

‘a faulty staff plan’

‘It is, of course, the responsibility of every butler to devote his utmost care in the devising of a staff plan’

7 Re staff plan: there is no virtue at all in clinging as some do to tradition merely for its own sake.
8 Sets about his task ‘with some dedication’
9 ‘You will no doubt agree’
10 ‘distinct hints of her desire to return here”her great affection for this house, with her exemplary professionalism’‘I have … reread Miss Kenton’s letter several times’
11 Lounge suit passed on to him in ‘1931 or 1932’‘one never knows when one might be obliged to give out that one is from Darlington Hall’‘Mrs Symons’s The   Wonder of England’    ‘written during the thirties’
12 Often looks at ‘the delights of Devon andCornwall’ after Miss Kenton leaves in 1936‘my growing excitement at the notion that I might now actually undertake a motoring trip myself around the same part of the country.
13 ‘conversation of a light-hearted humorous sort’‘bantering tone’
14 ‘A lady-friend.  And at your age’‘You will no doubt appreciate how uncomfortable a situation this was for me.’
15 ‘I therefore continued to stand there awkwardly’‘I was once or twice quite astounded by some of the things he would say to me’‘some residue of my bewilderment, not to say shock, remained detectable in my expression.’
16 ‘Perhaps I was expected to laugh heartedly; or indeed,   reciprocate with some remark of my own.’‘my failure [to banter is] a form of negligence’‘how would one know for sure that at any given moment a response of the bantering sort is truly what is expected?’
17 ‘More like swallows than crows .. from the migratory   aspect’
18 ‘Mr Faraday is not satisfied with my responses to his various banterings.’‘one does not have the means to discuss and corroborate views with one’s fellow professionals in the way one once did.’‘you would have witnessed debates over the great affairs preoccupying our employers upstairs.’‘we could be found discussing every aspect of our   vocation’
19 ‘a true camaraderie in pour profession’‘essentially cut from the same cloth’
20 ‘I responded as usual by smiling slightly’
23 ‘Darlington Hall would stand empty for probably the first time this century – perhaps for the   first time since it  was built’‘I delayed my departure’
24 ‘I had truly left Darlington Hall …I did feel a slight sense of alarm’‘speeding off in totally the wrong direction into a wilderness’
25 You won’t see a better view in the whole of England’‘A couple more years and it might be too late ..Better go on up while you still can’‘It occurs to me now that the man might possibly meant this in a humorous sort of way’
26 ‘the urge to demonstrate just how foolish his insinuation had been’‘healthy flush of anticipation’
27 Seated myself on a hard-backed chair’
28 ‘what really remains with me [is] that marvellous view of the rolling English countryside.’
29 ‘This quality is best summed up by the term ‘greatness’’‘Great Britain’‘lack of obvious drama or spectacle’‘What is pertinent is the calmness of that beauty, its sense of restraint.’

’what is a great butler?’

32/33 ’what is a great   butler? The Hayes Society: ’forced to close I believe in 1932 or   1933’‘an applicant be attached to a distinguished household’ but ‘this is by itself far from sufficient to satisfy requirements’
33 ‘The Society did not regard the houses of businessmen or the ‘newly rich’ as distinguished.’‘My opinion’: ‘outdated thinking’‘one had to be guided by the judgement of ‘the true ladies   and gentlemen’‘The most crucial criterion is that the applicant be   possessed of a dignity in keeping with his position.’
34 ‘dignity is something one can meaningfully strive for throughout one’s career.’
35 ‘my father was indeed the embodiment of ‘dignity’’
36 The tiger story
37 ‘he must have striven throughout his years somehow to become that butler of his story’
38 ‘I can think of several instances of his displaying in abundance that very quality he so admired’The riotous car journey
40 ‘imposing physical force’‘countenance … could seem extremely forbidding’
41 ‘the notion that his son gave his life gloriously for king and country – was sullied by the fact that my brother had perished in a particularly infamous manoeuvre.’
42 ‘lucrative business transaction’ of his father’s employer
43 ‘so well did my father hide his feelings’Dignity: ‘the butler’s ability not to abandon the professional being he inhabits.’
44 ‘They wear their professionalism as a decent gentleman will wear his suit’‘they are like a man who will, at the slightest provocation, tear off his suit and his shirt and run about screaming.’(see torn jacket. ref dignity is keeping your clothes   on.  Tear off suit. See 221)
45 ‘It is with such men as it is with the English landscape:   … one simply knows one is in the   presence of greatness.’‘Professional responsibility’: to ‘strive towards attaining ‘dignity’.  See 221
50 Miss Kenton’s letter‘her marriage is finally come to and end’‘the thought of retuning to Darlington Hall would be a great comfort to her’‘Miss Kenton is an intelligent woman’
51 ‘Miss Kenton would prove the perfect solution’Letter: ‘The rest of my life stretches out as an emptiness before me’
52 Letter: ‘On summer evenings there was a sort of magical   quality to that view.’ ‘Enchanted by it’‘Your father … looking down at the ground as though he hoped to find some precious jewel he had dropped there.’
53 Miss Kenton arrives: ‘The spring of 1922’‘I have always found such liaisons a serious threat to the   order in a house.’‘what I find a major irritation are those persons … who   are essentially … looking for romance.    This sort of person is a blight on good professionalism.’’Miss Kenton: ‘never allowed her professional priorities to be distracted.’
54 ‘” I thought these would brighten your parlour a little”’
55 ‘”I am happy to have distractions kept to a minimum.”’
56 ‘”someone such as yourself talking ‘down’ to one such as my father.”’‘”he in reality is more than that.  A great deal more.”’(word crunch ‘great’)
57 Miss Kenton: ‘sulkily’
58/59 Miss Kenton making ‘such unwarranted fuss’Miss Kenton: ‘uttered a statement she had clearly been rehearsing’
59 Miss Kenton: (re house knowledge 57) ‘my business to acquaint myself with where objects properly belong’
60 ‘I contemplated departure via the French windows’
62 ‘“it will not be long before your father commits an error of major proportions”’
63 ‘It was a ploy of Lord Darlington’s … to increase the effect of an accidental meeting.’’Lord Darlington’s essentially shy and modest nature’
64 ‘motivated by egotism or else arrogance’‘deep sense of moral duty’’’A good man at heart, a gentleman through and through, and one I am today proud to have given my best years of service to.’’
65 Stevens’ father: ‘an avoidable hazards’
66 Stevens and father: ‘atmosphere of mutual embarrassment’
67 Father’s room: ‘prison cell’‘Still awesome features’‘looking me up and down rather coldly’
68 Father to Stevens: ‘Chatter’‘come to the point’

’Impersonal: ‘Father has become…’

Passive Voice: ‘Father is allowed…’‘Furthermore, it has been decided …’

72 Prefers ‘City’s many charms’ to offer of a cup of tea.   ‘simple kindness’ offered but not accepted.
73 ‘a turning point in my life’March 1923 ‘came of age as a butler’re: ‘dignity’

‘important international conference’‘little room for indulgence or beating about the bush’

74 Herr Bremann: ‘serious illness … not so’1920: ‘first of a number of trips to Berlin’‘It does us great discredit to treat a defeated foe like this.  A complete break with the traditions of this country.’
75 ‘difficult to achieve that balance of attentiveness and the illusion of absence that is essential to good waiting’
76 ‘This treaty is making a liar out of me’‘I fought that war to preserve justice in this world. … I   wasn’t taking part in a vendetta against the German race’
77 Bremann’s suicide.
78 H G Wells and John Maynard Keynes ‘fair play had not been   done atVersailles’
81 ‘a special staff plan’ … analysed’ … ‘contingency plans’ …   ‘military-style ‘pep talk’’‘History could well be made under this roof’Repeated from 73: ‘little room for beating about the bush’‘street hawker’s barrow’
82 ‘The matter is perfectly under control, Mr Stevens.’
83 ‘great inexperience’
84 ‘off the record’‘his lordship entrusted me with a mission’
85 ‘false air of nonchalance’
86 ‘The point is, Stevens, I’m terribly busy’
88 ‘This attache case – he nudged it with his foot – is   chock-full of notes on every possible angle one can imagine.’  (and 93 not quoted)
89 ‘Childish behaviour’
91 ‘It is unbecoming to go on hating an enemy like this once   a conflict is over.’‘barbarous’ see 99
96 ‘to maintain the appearance that this was nothing more   than a social event … they had actually gone to the lengths of having   journals and newspapers open on their knees.’‘strong moral case’Depth of conviction’
97 ‘I was a little uncertain as to how to proceed. …Miss   Kenton appeared at my side’
98 Listens at door ‘common practice among many professionals’
99 ‘barbarous’    ‘despicable’ see 91
101 Whilst he looks at the backs of his hands: ‘I hope I have   been a good father to you’.  I suppose   I haven’t.’
102 ‘brink of pandemonium’
103 Lack of respect for Lord Darlington: ‘inattention’   ‘ill-mannered’
105 Dupont condemns those who ‘abuse the hospitality of the   host.
106 ‘bunch of naïve dreamers’He is an amateur and   international affairs today are no longer for gentleman amateurs.
107 ‘You here inEuropeneed   professionals to run your affairs.  If   you don’t realise that soon you’re headed ofr disaster.’ ‘What you describe   as “amateurism” …is what … most of us here still prefer to call “honour”.’Professionalism: ‘cheating and manipulating’ … ‘rather than   desire to see goodness and justice’
108 ‘then withdrew my hand’
110 Stevens crying‘a sob escaped her’
111 ‘I am very busy just now’‘I know my father would have wished me to carry on just   now.’
112 ‘I could have sworn you were three people’ (his father as   several 82)
113 ‘All of us rooted in the soil?’
114 the room was dominated by the smell of roasting’ ‘a   turning point in my professional development’
115 ‘a dignity’‘large sense of triumph’
119 Re p32 ‘the applicant be attached to a distinguished   household’: snobbery
120 ‘we tended to concern ourselves much more with the moral status of an employer’‘furthering the progress of humanity’
121 ‘professional prestige lay most significantly in the moral   worth of one’s employer.’Our generation …viewed the world not as a ladder but as a wheel’‘crucial decisions [are] arrived at, in the privacy and   the calm of the great houses’
122 ‘The world was a wheel, revolving with these great houses   at the hub.’‘Each of us harboured the desire to make our own small   contribution to the creation of a better world’
123 ‘A truly distinguished   household’
125 ‘you talk almost like a gentleman’
126 Denies having worked for Lord Darlington
127 Mortimer’s Pond: ‘a view of its entirety.  An atmosphere of great calm’
128 ‘Odd behaviour’
130 Again denies having worked for Lord Darlington‘mock’ house and butler
131 ‘You’re the real thing, aren’t you?’
132 ‘I have chosen to tell white lies as the simplest means of   avoiding unpleasantness.’‘Lord Darlington was a gentleman of great moral stature’
133 ‘I am today nothing but proud and grateful to have been   given such a privilege’
138 ‘I was truck by the thought … that some sort of witty   retort was required’‘eventually declared’‘somewhat bemused fashion’
139 ‘A simple exercise … formulate three witticisms’’
141 ‘he wishes merely to greet acquaintances as they pass by’
142 ‘the polishing of silver to the position of central   importance’ (Miss Kenton pointed out his father’s was not up to scratch)
144 The silver putHalifax  ‘into quite a different frame of mind altogether ‘significant contribution   towards the easing of relations between Lord Halifax and Herr Ribbentrop that   evening.
145145/146 ‘the most distinguished ladies and gentlemen were quite   enamoured of [Herr Ribbentrop]’.Lord Darlington received ‘hospitality from the Nazis’‘respected ladies and gentlemen inEnglandwere ‘availing themselves   of the hospitality of the German leaders.’Salacious nonsense that Lord Darlington was anti-semitic’‘except, perhaps, in one very minor episode’
146 Sir Oswald Moseley visited ‘on three occasions at most’‘Lord Darlington had no further association with such   people’
147 After all, I still have before me many more years of   service’
148 A small number of small errors’ (including ‘incident’ re   silver)
149 ‘errors … have been injurious … to one’s self-respect’Rereads letter: ‘exaggerated what evidences there was’
154 ‘that jewish propaganda sheet’A local charity: ‘more or less homogenously jewish’
155  ‘we cannot have   Jews on the staff here’‘the safety and the well being of my guests’
156 ‘my every instinct opposed the idea of their dismissal’
157 ‘simply – wrong’Our professional duty is not to our own foibles and   sentiments, but to the wishes of our employer‘you and I are not in a position to understand’
158 ‘extremely cold’    ‘quite rude’  ‘uinfriendly’
159 ‘severed all links with the ‘blackshirts’LordDarlington‘It was   wrong what happened’
161 ‘gazing throught he glass at the great expanse of fog   outside’‘simple cowardice’‘finding nobody who knew or cared about me’
162  ‘if you had thought   to share your feelings’‘‘’why, why, why do you always have to pretend?”’‘profile against a pale and empty pale background’
164 ‘”Modest success!”’‘”curious aversion to pretty girls”’
165 ‘a little harmless talk’
166  ‘’we have love and   who wants anything else’‘I cannot really recall seeing her more bereft than on   that morning’
167 ‘”She’s bound to be let down … So foolish.’
168 ‘something of a novice’
170171 ‘discouragement’ x3
172 ‘”it would be an honour to have you”’‘trying’
173  ‘memories’ : ‘a   relief’‘odd incident’‘a crucial turning point’Flowers
174 ‘”electric bulb is too dim”’  ‘”prison cell”’  ‘”condemned men”’ ‘clutching it to my   person’
175176 ‘the atmosphere underwent a peculiar change – almost as   though the two of us had been suddenly thrust onto some other plane of being   altogether’  … everything around us   became very still … there was  a   strange seriousness in her expression, and it struck me she seemed almost   frightened.’
176 Head at ‘an unnatural angle’‘Miss Kenton continued very gently to prise the book away,   practically one finger at a time.  The   process seemed to take a very long time’‘simply a sentimental love story’‘an extremely efficient way to maintain and develop one’s   command of the English language.’
178 ‘never allow himself to be “off-duty” in the presence of   others’
179 ‘a good colleague … who I seem now to have lost touch   with’‘she has no wish for a family’
180 ‘extremely cheerful for days on end – and for no   observable reason – were almost as disturbing to me as her sudden, prolongued   sullen spells’
180 ‘I really cannot imagine what more you might wish for in   life’‘on that day … I [will] be able to call myself a contented   man’My words: ‘for some reason displeased her’Conversation: ‘lost the personal tone’
183 ‘I merely said’ (repeated)
184 ‘please’‘I have occasionally wondered to myself how things might   have turned out in the long run had I not been so determined over the issue’
185  ‘if one begins to   search one’s past for such “turning points”, one is apt to start seeing them   everywhere’Turning points.
186 The thought of Miss Kenton crying ‘provoked a strange   feeling to rise within me, causing me to stand there hovering’
187 ‘I actually took a few steps towards the doorway, but then   I turned to her again‘Miss Kenton looked confused’‘a certain strain was visible in her face’’
188189 ‘She did not look upset so much as very weary’Turning points.‘it was as though one had … an infinite number of further   opportunities in which to remedy the effect of this or that misunderstanding’‘such evidently small incidents would whole dreams forever   irredeemable’
189 ‘I was so fond of that view from the second floor bedrooms   overlooking the lawn with the downs visible in the distance’
190 ‘oil gives a warmer light’
191 ‘as though reporting to an officer’
192 ‘a gentleman like yourself here in Moscombe, sir’
193 ‘Mr Lindsay: ‘he took us all for fools … he soon learnt   otherwise’  ‘he was no gentleman’
194 ‘there’s something else that mark you out as a gentleman’
195 ‘they mistake acting high and mighty for dignity’‘Dignity’s not just something for gentlemen’
196  ‘you are born free   and you’re born so that you can express your opinion freely’’you can’t have dignity if you’re a slave  …  we   fought for that right’
197 ‘I tended to concern myself with international affairs   more … in a strictly unofficial capacity’
198199 ‘a part to play, however, small, on the world’s stage‘public life can change people unrecognisably’‘England’s   a democracy … it’s up to us to exercise our rights … we owe it to the lads we   lost from this village’
199 ‘real gentleman’    ‘connections’‘we’ve all got to play our part’
201 ‘no easy task to suppress the instinct to add “sir”’‘looking at me for an inordinate length of time’
202  ‘Dr Carlisle’s gaze   seemed to study me’
203 ‘the sanctuary of this room’‘I fail to see how I might reasonably have prevented the   situation developing’
204 Harry Smith’s pronouncements on dignity: ‘far too   idealistic, far too theoretical’‘how can ordinary people truly be expected to have ‘strong   opinions’
205 ‘it was clearly expected that I be baffled by the   question’Mirthful smiles’ ‘laughingcovertly’
206 ‘suppressed laughter’ ‘fresh laughter’‘Is it any wonder, saddled as we are with our present   parliamentary system, that we are unable to find any solution to our many   difficulties?’
207 ‘Please accept my apologies’  ‘rather wearily’  ‘face strained and haggard’‘that old fashioned nonsense.  About the will of the people being the   wisest arbitr ‘this country needs to recognise when a thing’s outmoded’ator   and so on.’
208 ‘Democracy is something for a bygone era.’‘Germany  andItaly  have set their houses in order by acting.’‘See what strong leadership can do if it’s allowed to   act.  None of this universal suffrage   nonsense there.’
209 ‘a butler’s duty is to provide good service.  It is not to meddle in the great affairs of   the nation.’  ‘beyond the understanding   of you and me’
210211 ‘should make it his business to be forever reappraising   his employer’‘”This employer embodies all that I find noble and   admirable.  I will thereafter devote   myself to serving him.’
211 ‘his lordship’s life and work today to look, at best, a   sad waste – andit is quite illogical that I should feel any regret or   shame on my own account.’
216 ‘not so foolish as to be unprepared for disappointment’
218 ‘Sir’
221 Dignity: ‘not removing one’s clothing’ see 44
222 ‘Some preoccupation with the thought that … one would be   meeting Miss Kenton again before the day’s end.’‘just a few yards from me, Miss Kenton was crying’
224 ‘She was sitting at hr table thought there was nothing   before her and her ahnds were empty’
225 ‘She glanced down a seconfd at her hands, but then almost   immediately her gaze returned to me.’
226 ‘the sound of angry footsteps’‘do I understand that you are wishing me to remain on duty   this evening?
230 ‘the way you pinch your nostrils’‘your staff “pep-talks”’
231 ‘“I say, Stevens, are you all right there?”’
232 ‘His lordship is in deep waters.’‘He’s out of his depth’
233 ‘The Nazis are manoeuvring him like a pawn’
234 ‘His lordship is a gentleman.  That’s what’s at the root of it.’‘a bungling amateur’‘today’s world is too foul a place for fine and noble   instincts.’
237 ‘I was simply being foolish’‘I can hardly stop to exchange pleasantries with you’‘an ever-growing conviction mounting within me that just a   few yards away, on the other side of that door, Miss Kenton was at that   moment crying.’‘I remember being quite certain’‘I remained standing there    … a significant period.’
238 ‘At first, my mood was … somewhat downcast.’‘a deep feeling of triumph sta  rted to well up within me.’‘I had managed to preserve a ‘dignity in keeping with my   position’‘Who could doubt … I had indeed come as close to the great   hub of things as any butler could wish?’
244 ‘in the pool of grey light while the rain continued to   fall steadily on the square outside’‘she seemed to have done so very gracefully
245 ‘extremely pleasing to see her again’‘what I was really seeing was a weariness with life’‘sadness in her expression’‘the little smiles … her small ironic inflexions … certain   gestures’
246 ‘frequently laughing
247 ‘And his lordship’s good name was destroyed for ever.’
248 ‘one could hardly believe two hours had elapsed’‘”the rest of my life stretches out like an emptiness   before me.”’
249 ‘there’s work, work and more work’‘We both laughed at this.’
250 ‘I simply wondered if you were being il;-treated in some   way.’‘I’m very touched you should be so concerned.’‘during which time I continued to gaze out towards the   fields’
251 ‘I believe I thought of it as simply another ruse, Mr   Stevens, to annoy you.’‘I get to thinking about a life I might have had with   you.’‘their implications were such as to provoke a certain   degree of sorrow within me.’
252 ‘at that moment, my heart was breaking.’‘her eyes had filled with tears’‘You must do all you can to make these years happy ones   for yourself and your husband.’‘great pleasure’
253 ‘His claim was that for a great many people, the evening   was the best part of the day.’
254 ‘I thought it appropriate to reveal my identity’
255 ‘part of the package’‘you want a hankie?’‘he made his own mistakes.    His lordship was a courageous man.    He chose a certain path in life, it proved to be a misguided one’
256 ‘I trusted in his lordship’s wisdom’‘I can’t even say I made my own mistakes.  …    what dignity is there in that?’‘try to make the best of what remains of my day’
257 ’For the likes of you and me, there is little choice other   than to leave our fate ultimately, in the hands of those great gentlemen at   the hub of this world who employ out services.’‘laughing together merrily.  It is curious how people can build such   warmth among themselves so swiftly.’‘bantering’
258 ‘it is not such a foolish thing to indulge in –   particularly if it is the case that in bantering lies the key to human   warmth.’

 

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