In the winter of 1939, Lord Marchmain decides to return to Brideshead from Venice in view of the deteriorating international situation. It soon becomes apparent that he is in declining health and has in fact come home to die. He has taken a dislike to Bridey's new wife and suggests he may leave Brideshead Castle to Julia and Charles. Religion - specifically whether Lord Marchmain will accept the last rites - becomes an issue. Charles simply cannot understand or accept the family's religious beliefs but in his dying moments, Lord Marchmain does provide a sign indicating his wishes. The entire episode forever changes Charles and Julia's relationship. In the spring of 1944, Charles, now an army Captain, living on the grounds of Brideshead Castle, walks the corridors of a place he knows so well and remembers the life that is past him.
Did You Know?
When Lord Marchmain returns to Brideshead, he is accommodated on the ground floor (in the "Chinese drawing room").
However, when Charles Ryder is being shown around the castle by a commanding officer some years later, the two walks up a flight of stairs to the second floor where they enter the (same) "Chinese drawing room", intact with all details. See more
[Father McKay is administering the Last Rites to Lord Marchmain
I recognised the words of Absolution and saw the priest make the sign of the cross. Then I knelt too and prayed: "Oh God, if there is a God, forgive him his sins, if there *is* such a thing as sin." I suddenly felt the longing for a sign, if only of courtesy, if only for the sake of the woman I loved who knelt, I knew, praying for a sign. It seemed such a small thing that was asked - the bare acknowledgement of a present...