Study Guide

Angle of Repose Society and Class

By Wallace Stegner

Society and Class

Susan Ward is such a classy broad that we're pretty sure Tom Jones wrote "She's a Lady" about her. Having grown up as the "poor" kid in the world of wealthy New York intellectuals, Susan actually tends to care about class issues more than most—which gives us a hint that she's insecure about her own standing in the upper crust of society. As Susan gets older, we see these class concerns grow larger within her, causing tension in her marriage and ultimately affecting her in a profoundly negative way. That's what happens when keeping it classy goes wrong.

Questions About Society and Class

  1. Why is Susan so insecure about her class standing?
  2. How does Susan's understanding of the nature of class change over the course of the novel?
  3. Why does Susan doubt Oliver's ability to survive in high society?
  4. What are the negative consequences of Susan's obsession with class?

Chew on This

Susan is more focused on acting high class than her peers because she wasn't born into it—she had to fight her way in.

Although Susan's high-class status helps her throughout the novel, it also causes her to have standards that are too high to ever be met.