Summary of "The Lion’s Share" by Arnold Bennett

“The Lion’s Share” is a humorous short story. Most of his stories are located in Five Towns. This story also takes place in Five Towns.

The Lion’s Share Summary

Arnold Bennett’s “The Lion’s Share” is a humorous short story. Most of his stories are located in Five Towns. This story also takes place in Five Towns. Arnold Bennett begins the story by stating that this particular incident was very famous among the people of Five Towns. Everyone including the narrator considers that incident a comedy. But when he wanted to write it as a story, he felt it was a tragedy. Bennett says that he leaves it to the judgment of the readers to decide whether it is a comedy or tragedy.

Mrs Carpole, a widow, lived with her stepson Horace and her son Sidney at Bleak ridge. Horace was nineteen years old and was seen as a model boy due to his commitment in business and interest in learning new things. He took care of his stepbrother like an uncle. Might be due to his perfect nature, he did not have any friends. Sidney was contradictory to his brother. He was eight years old; with a very attractive personality, he received everyone’s love. But he was affected with slight deafness and weak physic with frequent fever. At that time, after getting cured of a disease, Sidney started to walk slowly. Horace thought that he should be brought downstairs for fresh air. He decided to carry him down in spite of disapproval from Sidney and Mrs. Carpole. Horace was determined with his mission and carried him down. Unfortunately, Horace fell down with Sidney. Sidney was affected by it and Horace spent his savings to treat Sidney.

Later Horace arranged school education for Sidney. Unfortunately the same evening Sidney was affected severely by attacks. Hence his schooling was stopped and the neighbours started blaming Horace for dropping him on the staircase.  Horace tried spending a huge amount on a great brain specialist at Manchester. Even then there was no development. As Sidney started having the attacks regularly, Horace sent him every year for six weeks to some seaside resorts. Horace spent a huge amount on it and people said that he should feel happy to have money to spend on his brother. The agony of Sidney’s tragic condition and his deafness slowly killed his mother. Later Horace inherited the property of his maternal grandfather and Sidney did not have any. People advised that he should share his fortune with his half-brother. Accepting their views he bought a house and started living with his brother. Moreover, he started a business. Sidney started working in the Horace office but due to his ill health was not regular to work. Even then Horace paid him three pounds a week as salary.

Horace met a girl named Ella whom he thought of as a nice girl, who was a guest at Mrs Penkethman’s house. That time Sidney went to a foreign country for refreshments. Horace invited Ella and Mrs Penkethman to his house for an evening.  Surprisingly Sidney returned from his trip when they entered. Sidney was so handsome and Ella was attracted to him. They both spent time together and later they fell in love with each other. Horace spent a lot of money on their marriage. He arranged a house and furnished things for the married couple to live happily. He spent a huge amount for their happiness which resulted in a loss in business. Ella and Sidney went to Llandudno for some period. Meanwhile, Horace settled all his debts and went to meet Sidney and Ella. Even there he hid his bankrupt condition and instead said that he was going to Germany.

A few months later when Sidney and Ella returned to Bursley, the house of Horace was about to be auctioned. They decided to buy it as it is their family property. They bought it and lived in the house. They named their child Horace. After several years Horace returned to Bursley to meet his brother’s family and was expecting to narrate his adventure in Germany. But they invited him casually as if he left the previous day. When they were going down for tea, little Horace asked his uncle to carry him down. The matured Horace answered immediately that he cannot; otherwise, he has to lose all his money.

The title “The Lion’s share” means big/huge share. In the story, though Horace inherited huge money and in business made money, he did not enjoy his money, Whereas Sidney enjoyed the money. Hence Sidney got the lion’s share in the story.

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