Chapter 11 Notes from The Age of Innocence

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The Age of Innocence Chapter 11

Two weeks pass. Ellen has faded in Archer's memory; May is more on his mind.

One afternoon, as he sits at his desk in the office of Letterblair, Lamson, and Low, attorneys-at-law (where he half-heartedly practices law, as expected of a man of his station), the head of the firm summons him to a meeting.

Mr. Letterblair tells him that the Countess Olenska wishes to divorce her husband. The Mingott family has asked that Archer be involved in this situation, since he will soon be a part of their family. They fear that the scandal of Ellen's divorce will affect their social position. Archer wants no part of this. In the end, though, he obeys his boss. He agrees to read the papers and talk to Ellen. Mr. Letterblair is pleased with his decision, and invites him to dinner the next night.

As Archer walks home that evening, he thinks about his upcoming meeting with Ellen. He realizes that talking to her is the right thing to do because it would be better for her to tell him her secrets than to tell someone less compassionate than himself. Archer, for the first time, realizes how shallow his principles had been. He thinks about his affair with Mrs. Rushworth, a vain, foolish, married woman. Archer begins to guess that love problems in Europe, such as Ellen's, are more complicated than what New York is used to.

Ellen agrees to see him the following evening. During dinner, Mr. Letterblair and Archer discuss the case. Mr. Letterblair agrees (along with the Mingott family) that Ellen is wrong to request the divorce. Archer, who had gone to dinner sharing this view, now disagrees with Mr. Letterblair and the Mingotts. Mr. Letterblair wants Archer to use his influence to convince Ellen to withdraw her divorce request. Archer and Mr. Letterblair finally come to an agreement: Archer will not give his opinion until he hears what Ellen has to say. Mr. Letterblair approves of his caution.

Topic Tracking: Marriage 7

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