Study Guide

The Price of Salt, or Carol Youth

By Patricia Highsmith


Chapter 1

"You just tired, you baby," Mrs. Robichek said, tucking a woolen blanket about her shoulders in the chair. (1.85)

There's a recurring motif of older women putting Therese to sleep because she is young. It's what kids do when they play with dolls.

Chapter 7

"Are you old enough to smoke?" [Abby] asked Therese. (7.163)

The older women are condescending toward Therese. We're not sure why she wants to hang out with them because they often say rude things to her.

She hated cleaning up after making something. (7.120)

This is an immature attitude, like wanting to cook dinner but not do the dishes—it's indicative of a person who doesn't want to accept the consequences for their actions. This is what Therese does with Richard. She starts a relationship with him, but she doesn't want to clean it up.

"Child, child, where do you wander—all by yourself?" (7.102)

Carol's paraphrasing a song, but it's still a weird thing for a lover to say to another, although the two aren't lovers yet. Carol seems to be suggesting that Therese needs a mentor so she won't be a child all by herself.

Chapter 11

"You're the young generation," Carol said. "And what have you got to say?" (11.84)

Here is another rude thing said to Therese, this time by Carol. Carol eventually listens to Therese in the end, but she acts like a stodgy old broad first before accepting that Therese, although young, still has knowledge.

Chapter 13

"You're not used to thinking of other people's feelings." (13.69)

Carol is right here when talking to Therese, and this recalls the earlier quote about Therese not wanting to clean up after herself. She wants to do whatever she wants without any regard for others, and Therese doesn't exactly grow out of that during the book.

Chapter 16

"I mean sometime, darling. You've got a lot of years ahead." (16.32)

Carol seems to think that Therese is going through a phase, that her same-sex experience is just an experiment, nothing permanent, and that she might change her mind as she gets older.

Chapter 18

"Darling, did you ever think you'll be seventy-one, too, some day?"

"No," Therese said. (18.37-18.38)

As a youngster, Therese is also shortsighted. She still sees older people as an "other," not as a person that she may one day be.

Chapter 22

"You look grown up all of a sudden," [Dannie] said. "You changed your hair, didn't you?" (22.70)

Therese matures a bit on her road trip—either that or she just looks tired—as evidenced by the fact that a few people comment on Therese looking "grown up" when she returns. Exactly how does she grow up?

Chapter 23

She rolled her eyes. "Incredible. Can anyone still be only twenty-one?" (23.139)

Here we see another old lesbian making a disparaging remark about a young person based purely on their age. Perhaps this is one reason why Therese doesn't go with Genevieve. She's tired of this attitude, so she returns to Carol, who has finally accepted her, despite the age difference.