The Custom of the Country Summary
Edith Wharton

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The Custom of the Country Summary

Modern American marriage customs and divorce are two of the main themes in Wharton's novel. As Charles Bowen, a character who serves as a social analyst, observes, it is "the custom of the country" for a man to slave away to pay for "his wife's extravagances" without ever telling her anything about the work he does. The consequence is that there is little if any shared life in many American marriages. The center of the man's life, the world of business, remains a mystery to his wife. The center of her life, a social world of opulent display, becomes an expensive drain on his resources when business is not going well. Undine early on gives her view of the purpose of American marriages when she observes that her friend Mabel Lipscomb will probably soon be getting a divorce since her husband has "been a disappointment to her." Mr...

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The Custom of the Country Short Guide

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