Chapter 33 Notes from The Age of Innocence

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The Age of Innocence Chapter 33

Ten days have passed since Ellen left for Washington. Mrs. Mingott feels hurt that Ellen won't stay, and believes that she left out of boredom. Archer hasn't heard a word from her, although she returned the key to the place where they were to have met; it arrived at his office in a sealed envelope addressed in her handwriting. Although Ellen will return to Europe, she won't return to the Count. Archer still believes that he will leave New York and follow her to France.

May decides to host a going-away party for Ellen - the first big party that she and Archer will throw as a married couple. All of the important New York society people (except the disgraced Beauforts) are there. Ellen arrives looking pale and tired, but Archer doesn't care; he loves her even more. Archer and Ellen sit next to each other at dinner, but they only talk about unimportant things.

During the dinner, Archer realizes that the guests' gossip about Julius Beaufort's affair is actually a thinly disguised warning for him. He finally understands that New York society believes that he and Ellen were lovers, and that May believes it, too. At the same time, he knows that his family and friends will never say anything to him about it:

"The silent organization which held his little world together was determined to put itself on record as never for a moment having questioned the propriety of Madame Olenska's conduct, or the completeness of Archer's domestic felicity." Chapter 33, pg. 267

Archer helps Ellen into her coat as she gets ready to leave. He says good-bye, then adds, "'but I shall see you soon in Paris.'"

Ellen, though, lets him know that he should drop his plan; she invites him to bring May as well.

After the guests leave, Archer tries again to tell May that he loves Ellen. Again, she stops him. Instead, she tells him that she is pregnant, and that she has been sure of it since just that morning. Mrs. Welland, Mrs. Archer, and Ellen also know. Archer hears all of this in a daze, but he remembers that May's conversation with Ellen had taken place two weeks earlier - before she was certain that she was pregnant. That hadn't mattered to May; she had told Ellen she was pregnant anyway. May won the unspoken battle: "'No; I wasn't sure then - but I told her I was. And you see I was right!' she exclaimed, her blue eyes wet with victory." Chapter 33, pg. 270

Topic Tracking: Power 11

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