Summary of Chapter VI
The Captain dies in December and news goes out on the telegraph. Flowers and telegrams come but few of his old railroad friends attend his funeral. His only two pallbearers are Judge Pommeroy and Dr. Dennison. On the morning of the funeral, Adolph Blum knocks at the kitchen door in his old clothes and gives a box of yellow roses for the Captain. It is the only gesture that day that makes Marian cry.
The funeral is large with old settlers and farm folk coming to pay respect. Marian decides to have the sun-dial put on his grave as a tombstone and plant his rose bushes next to it. The Judge and Niel and Marian have tea in the parlor as they watch the winter snows begin to fall.
Commentary on Chapter VI
The Captain’s death announces Marian’s freedom, but it also announces the end of an era. The common folk, the old settlers, respond by coming to the funeral to pay their respects. The Forresters, however, are not part of any high society now, and his old friends can’t make it. The sun-dial on his grave and the roses as a memorial are the perfect touches from Marian’s hand.
The sun-dial represents the passage of time, and the passage of an age. It is an elegy for what has been lost. The roses have symbolized the Captain’s life, his contribution to his times. He has left a legacy, mostly intangible now, that perhaps few besides Niel could grasp. Marian is sensitive to the gesture of the Blum brothers who knew to give the Captain roses. She knows it cost them a lot, for they are not rich, but the Captain was loved, and the roses remind her of that. The winter, that Marian has always dreaded, has arrived, and she is now alone.