Chapter 22 Notes from The Age of Innocence

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The Age of Innocence Chapter 22

Emerson Sillerton, an unpopular, eccentric professor, decides to throw a party in honor of the Blenker family, with whom the Marchioness Manson and Ellen are staying while in Newport. No one in the Welland family wants to go, but someone must represent the family. Mrs. Welland, out of a sense of duty, finally agrees to go; Mr. Welland and May decide to take a drive. As a result, Archer finds himself with an afternoon to himself. He tells May that he wants to buy her another horse, and will drive up to a farm to look for one.

His real plan is more complicated. He guesses that the Marchioness will go to the party with the Blenkers, and that Ellen will spend the afternoon with her grandmother. Archer wants to take advantage of the empty Blenker house. He doesn't even want to see Ellen again; he only wants to satisfy his curiosity about the place where she lives, and to imagine her there.

"The longing was with him day and night, an incessant undefinable craving, like the sudden whim of a sick man for food and drink once tasted and long since forgotten. . . He simply felt that if he could carry away the vision of the spot of earth she walked on, and the way the sky and sea enclosed it, the rest of the world might seem less empty." Chapter 22, pg. 180

Archer gazes at the empty house for a long time before walking up to it. In the garden, he spies a pink parasol; he is sure that it belongs to Ellen. As he holds the parasol and kisses its handle, he hears rustling skirts behind him. He is convinced that Ellen approaches.

Instead of Ellen, he finds himself face-to-face with the youngest Miss Blenker, who had to stay home from the party because of a sore throat. She flirts with Archer as she thanks him for finding her missing parasol.

Archer is shaken up, but finds himself talking to Miss Blenker, and manages to ask if she knows where Ellen is. Miss Blenker informs him that Ellen had left immediately for Boston after receiving a telegram. Archer feels his life slipping away from him:

"His whole future seemed suddenly to be unrolled before him; and passing down its endless emptiness he saw the dwindling figure of a man to whom nothing was ever to happen." Chapter 22, pg. 183

He casually mentions to Miss Blenker that he might be in Boston the next day, and she informs him that Ellen is staying at the Parker House. With that information, Archer heads back to Newport.

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