Chapter 6 Notes from The Age of Innocence

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The Age of Innocence Chapter 6

That evening, after Sillerton Jackson leaves, Archer sits by himself in his study. He gazes at a photograph of May:

"That terrifying product of the social system he belonged to and believed in, the young girl who knew nothing and expected everything, looked back at him like a stranger through May Welland's familiar features; and once more it was borne in on him that marriage was not the safe anchorage he had been taught to think, but a voyage on uncharted seas." Chapter 6, pg. 41

Archer thinks about how Ellen Olenska has stirred up the ideas of marriage that he has always taken for granted, such as the unspoken rule that men must conceal their romantic experience from their innocent wives. Ellen's story challenges him to think about women differently. Suddenly, Archer cannot see why May should not have been allowed to experiment in love, as he had.

These thoughts make Archer uncomfortable. He is annoyed at Ellen for complicating what should be the carefree, happy time of his engagement.

Topic Tracking: Marriage 5

A few days later, the Lovell Mingott family sends out invitations for a dinner to meet the Countess Olenska. They invite the important people in New York society.

Every person refuses the Mingotts' invitation except the Beauforts, Sillerton Jackson and his sister, Sophy Jackson. The rejection of Ellen seems deliberate; the replies all rudely said that they were unable to accept without even offering an excuse.

Topic Tracking: Power 2

Mrs. Lovell Mingott tells May's mother about the insult, and Mrs. Welland tells Archer. Archer is so outraged that he turns to his mother for help. After much thought, she works up the courage to go to her cousins Louisa and Henry van der Luyden - the two people at the very top of New York society.

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