Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #1

If Selden had come at Mrs. Dorset's call, it was at her own that he would stay. (1.5.8)

Does Lily want Selden, or does she want power?

Quote #2

How dreary and trivial these people were! Lily reviewed them with a scornful impatience: Carry Fisher, with her shoulders, her eyes, her divorces, her general air of embodying a "spicy paragraph"; young Silverton, who had meant to live on proof-reading and write an epic, and who now lived on his friends and had become critical of truffles; Alice Wetherall, an animated visiting-list, whose most fervid convictions turned on the wording of invitations and the engraving of dinner-cards; Wetherall, with his perpetual nervous nod of acquiescence, his air of agreeing with people before he knew what they were saying; Jack Stepney, with his confident smile and anxious eyes, half way between the sheriff and an heiress; Gwen Van Osburgh, with all the guileless confidence of a young girl who has always been told that there is no one richer than her father. (1.5.11)

This seems to be Wharton's view of society peeking through a variety of her characters' perspectives. She assigns this tone to Selden, but allows Lily access to it in certain, key moments.

Quote #3

That walk she did not mean to miss; one glance at the bills on her writing-table was enough to recall its necessity. (1.5.23)

If Lily's desire to marry a rich man truly is out of necessity, can it be judged as immoral?

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