Chapter 10 Notes from The Age of Innocence

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The Age of Innocence Chapter 10

The next day, Archer and May go for a walk in Central Park (even though it's Sunday, when nice girls should be in church.)

Archer tells May that he sent yellow roses to Ellen. May is delighted by his thoughtfulness. She mentions that Ellen also received flowers from Henry van der Luyden and Julius Beaufort; this annoys Archer. He wants to tell May that he visited Ellen the night before, but since Ellen had not mentioned anything to May, he remains silent.

Mrs. Welland has finally convinced the wavering May that a long engagement would be considered best in the eyes of society. Archer still wants to be married right away. He tries to convince May that they can be "different," but she has been raised to conform to society. Even as Archer insistently urges May to consider an earlier wedding, she responds with the shallow remarks that society has taught her. As they talk, Archer feels frustrated with May. He knows that when they are married, he will have the responsibility to open May's eyes. The responsibility scares him: "What if, when he had bidden May Welland to open (her eyes), they could only look out blankly at blankness?" Chapter 10, pg. 71

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The following afternoon, Archer sits smoking in his study. He is in a terrible mood. After his conversation with May, he has begun to dread the future that looms before him: "a haunting horror of doing the same thing every day at the same hour besieged his brain." Chapter 10, pg. 72

Janey enters the study to tell him that their mother is angry. Sophy Jackson just informed them that Ellen went to Mrs. Lemuel Struther's party with the Duke of St. Austrey and Julius Beaufort. Janey and her mother are horrified that Ellen, who is soon to become family, went to the party of a socially inferior woman in the company of two married men. Archer is frustrated with their concern. As he argues with his mother in the drawing-room, Henry van der Luyden enters. He, too, has heard the story. Much to the relief of Mrs. Archer and Janey, Mr. van der Luyden tells them that he will pay a visit to Ellen and gently explain how New York society feels about certain things.

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