Summary and Analysis
Book 5: Wheat and Tares:
Chapter 7 - A Day of Reckoning
At dinner with his creditors, Tulliver looks like his old self. He makes a long speech about his honesty and his admiration for his son. Tom makes a brief speech, giving thanks for the honor done him, and is well received. Tulliver rides home on the main street, "with uplifted head and free glances," wishing he would meet Wakem. They do meet, at the gate to the mill yard. Wakem makes a harsh comment on Tulliver's farming. Tulliver says angrily that he will "serve no longer under a scoundrel," and when Wakem tries to pass, Tulliver knocks him from his horse. He is whipping Wakem when Maggie comes to restrain him.
Luke helps Wakem to his horse, while Maggie helps her father to his bed, for he is faint and pale. A half-hour later Tom comes home. He is dejected that his "exemplary effort" is confounded by this occurrence.
No one is worried about Mr. Tulliver, but in the early morning Tom and Maggie are wakened by their mother: the doctor has been sent for, and their father has asked for them. When they come in, Mr. Tulliver asks Tom to try to get the mill back and charges him to care for his mother and be good to Maggie, as he had been good to his sister. At last he says, with difficulty, that he has had his turn and beat Wakem. Maggie begs him to forgive Wakem, but Tulliver says he cannot "love a raskill." He subsides into mutterings, and the doctor arrives an hour later only to pronounce him dead. Tom and Maggie cling together and promise to love each other.
Note that Tom feels as much self-pity at having the edge taken off his success as sorrow for his father. "Tom was dejected by the thought that his exemplary effort must always be baffled by the wrong-doing of others . . . ." Maggie, once again, feels only sympathy for her father.
On his deathbed Tulliver charges Tom to be good to Maggie. This is the one charge he later forgets, or misunderstands, although he remembers fully the mission of revenge. Yet, while Tom does not have his father's generosity, he is like his father in one matter of principle: his ground for turning out Maggie is ironically of the same type as Tulliver's refusal to forgive Wakem — "I can't love a raskill . . . ."