Ramsay wants to go to the lighthouse. His mother says that yes, of course they can go tomorrow, weather permitting. His father disagrees. The weather will not permit it, he asserts, they will not go to the lighthouse.
Much of this novel revolves around the one afternoon and evening before this proposed trip to the lighthouse. The Ramsay family, maternal and magnificent mother, needy professor father and all eight children are staying in their holiday home in the Isle of Skye. With them are a number of other guests, Lily Briscoe the painter. William Banks, Augustus Carmichael, and Charles Tansey.