62 pages 2 hours read

Samuel Butler


Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1872

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Chapters 15-20

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 15 Summary: “The Musical Banks”

After Mahaina leaves and the conversation about her dies down, Mrs. Nosnibor, Zulora, and Arowhena decide to visit the Musical Banks. The narrator arranges to go with them, though they do not seem to think that he will enjoy the trip, and they head into town. The narrator explains that there are two currencies in Erewhon: one for transactions and another that seems to serve no purpose but social convention. The useless currency is acquired at the Musical Banks, and it does not earn interest on deposit, unlike the useful currency which is treated more like the currencies of Europe. The Musical Bank is a large, beautiful building, and the sight of it makes the narrator consider his own smallness in relation to the history of humanity. He does not go into the bank, but he watches from a curtain outside as the women go to a cashier, hand over a piece of paper that the cashier does not read, and receive an uncounted sum of coins which they ultimately give back to the cashiers.

The narrator is confused by this process, and he admits that many Erewhonians do not believe in the relevance of the Musical Banks, noting that the bank was almost empty when he and the women visited it.