Roman Fever

Alida Slade Character Analysis

A confident and charming middle-aged socialite. While visiting Rome in the company of her daughter, Jenny, she encounters her old friend, Grace Ansley, who is traveling with her daughter, Barbara. Mrs. Slade’s charming personality and social intelligence made her a good match for Delphin, her now-deceased celebrity husband, but her confidence in social situations proves to be out of proportion with her actual power to captivate and control others. Mrs. Ansley captures this tension when she aptly describes Mrs. Slade as being “awfully brilliant; but not as brilliant as she thinks.” Mrs. Slade relishes drama and excitement, and wishes that her prudent daughter, Jenny, would “fall in love—with the wrong man, even” just so that she might have a scandal to occupy her time. Although she thinks of her husband only fleetingly, there is a sense that her craving for excitement and stimulation is a way of distracting herself from the pain of widowhood, and from the devastating loss of her son, who “died suddenly in boyhood.” In her interactions with Mrs. Ansley, Mrs. Slade displays tangled and often contradictory feelings of jealousy, superiority, and affection. She clings to a limited view of her old friend as being dull and emotionally shallow, incapable of feeling or thinking as intensely as Mrs. Slade does herself. However, during the course of their conversation, Mrs. Ansley destabilizes Mrs. Slade’s sense of superiority, first with subtle insinuations that Mrs. Slade’s charmed life may not be all that it seems, and then with a string of revelations about events that have defined her life in ways she hadn’t realized.

Alida Slade Quotes in Roman Fever

The Roman Fever quotes below are all either spoken by Alida Slade or refer to Alida Slade. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Competition in Female Relationships Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of Roman Fever published in 1997.
Section 1 Quotes

As they leaned there a girlish voice echoed up gaily from the stairs leading to the court below. “Well, come along, then,” it cried, not to them but to an invisible companion, “and let’s leave the young things to their knitting … After all, we haven’t left our poor parents much else to do.”

Related Characters: Barbara Ansley (speaker), Alida Slade, Grace Ansley, Jenny Slade
Related Symbols: Knitting
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:
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“After all, it’s still the most beautiful view in the world.”
“It always will be, to me,” assented her friend Mrs. Ansley, with so slight a stress on the “me” that Mrs. Slade, though she noticed it, wondered if it were not merely accidental, like the random underlinings of old-fashioned letter-writers.
“Grace Ansley was always old-fashioned,” she thought.

Related Characters: Alida Slade (speaker), Grace Ansley
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“Moonlight—moonlight! What a part it still plays. Do you suppose they’re as sentimental as we were?”
“I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t in the least know what they are,” said Mrs. Ansley. “And perhaps we didn’t know much more about each other.”

Related Characters: Grace Ansley (speaker), Barbara Ansley , Jenny Slade
Page Number: 5-6
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

In living up to such a husband all her faculties had been engaged; now she had only her daughter to live up to, for the son who seemed to have inherited his father’s gifts had died suddenly in boyhood. She had fought through that agony because her husband was there, to be helped and to help; now, after the father’s death, the thought of the boy had become unbearable. There was nothing left but to mother her daughter; and dear Jenny was such a perfect daughter that she needed no excessive mothering … She wished that Jenny would fall in love—with the wrong man, even; that she might have to be watched, out-manoeuvred, rescued.

Related Characters: Alida Slade (speaker), Delphin Slade , Jenny Slade
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Section 2 Quotes

Mrs. Ansley had resumed her knitting. One might almost have imagined (if one had known her less well, Mrs. Slade reflected) that, for her also, too many memories rose from the lengthening shadows of those august ruins. But no; she was simply absorbed in her work.

Related Characters: Alida Slade (speaker), Grace Ansley
Related Symbols: Knitting
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Mrs. Slade broke off this prophetic flight with a recoil of self-disgust. There was no one of whom she had less right to think unkindly than Grace Ansley. Would she never cure herself of envying her? Perhaps she had begun too long ago.

Related Characters: Alida Slade (speaker), Grace Ansley
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“Oh, yes; Great-aunt Harriet. The one who was supposed to have sent her younger sister out to the Forum after sunset to gather a night-blooming flower for her album. All our great-aunts and great-grandmothers used to have albums of flowers.”
Mrs. Slade nodded. “But she really sent her because they were in love with the same man—”
“Well, that was the family tradition. They said Aunt Harriet confessed it years afterward. At any rate, the poor little sister caught the fever and died.”

Related Characters: Alida Slade (speaker), Grace Ansley
Page Number: 13-14
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Mrs. Slade waited nervously for another word or movement. None came, and at length she broke out: “I horrify you.”
Mrs. Ansley’s hands dropped to her knees. The face they uncovered was streaked with tears. “I wasn’t thinking of you. I was thinking—it was the only letter I ever had from him!”

Related Characters: Alida Slade (speaker), Grace Ansley (speaker), Delphin Slade
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“I don’t know why you should be sorry for me … After all, I had everything; I had him for twenty-five years. And you had nothing but that one letter that he didn’t write.”
Mrs. Ansley was again silent. At length she turned toward the door of the terrace. She took a step, and turned back, facing her companion.
“I had Barbara,” she said, and began to move ahead of Mrs. Slade toward the stairway.

Related Characters: Alida Slade (speaker), Grace Ansley (speaker), Delphin Slade , Barbara Ansley
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Alida Slade Character Timeline in Roman Fever

The timeline below shows where the character Alida Slade appears in Roman Fever. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 1
Nostalgia Theme Icon
The Artifice of High Society Life Theme Icon
...the terrace of an upscale restaurant in the heart of Rome, two American women — Alida Slade and Grace Ansley, both “of ripe but well-cared-for middle age” — lean against the parapet,... (full context)
Nostalgia Theme Icon
The Artifice of High Society Life Theme Icon
From the nearby stairs, Mrs. Slade and Mrs. Ansley hear the voices of their two daughters, Jenny and Barbara. Barbara, Mrs.... (full context)
Knowledge and Denial Theme Icon
...parapet, the few other people lunching on the terrace gather up their things to leave. Mrs. Slade suggests that she and Mrs. Ansley stay on the terrace, and pushes two chairs close... (full context)
The Artifice of High Society Life Theme Icon
Mrs. Slade begins to reminisce about the time she and Mrs. Ansley spent in Rome when they... (full context)
Competition in Female Relationships Theme Icon
Knowledge and Denial Theme Icon
Nostalgia Theme Icon
The Artifice of High Society Life Theme Icon
Mrs. Slade and Mrs. Ansley discuss their daughters’ plans for the evening. Mrs. Ansley believes that Barbara... (full context)
Competition in Female Relationships Theme Icon
The Artifice of High Society Life Theme Icon
Mrs. Ansley’s comment prompts Mrs. Slade to reflect silently on their long friendship. She remembers how stunningly beautiful Mrs. Ansley was... (full context)
Competition in Female Relationships Theme Icon
Knowledge and Denial Theme Icon
Nostalgia Theme Icon
The Artifice of High Society Life Theme Icon
Mrs. Slade reflects on how she and Mrs. Ansley both lost their husbands around the same time,... (full context)
Knowledge and Denial Theme Icon
After her life with Delphin, widowhood feels very dull to Mrs. Slade . Since her son died in childhood—a fact that Mrs. Slade finds “unbearable” to think... (full context)
Competition in Female Relationships Theme Icon
Knowledge and Denial Theme Icon
The Artifice of High Society Life Theme Icon
Sitting beside Mrs. Slade , Mrs. Ansley thinks about her own impressions of her friend. She believes Mrs. Slade... (full context)
Section 2
Knowledge and Denial Theme Icon
The Artifice of High Society Life Theme Icon
For a long time, Mrs. Ansley and Mrs. Slade sit in silence on the terrace. The intimacy of this silence makes Mrs. Ansley uncomfortable,... (full context)
Knowledge and Denial Theme Icon
Nostalgia Theme Icon
The Artifice of High Society Life Theme Icon
Mrs. Slade makes a long, contemplative comment about the ways in which each generation of women visiting... (full context)
Competition in Female Relationships Theme Icon
Knowledge and Denial Theme Icon
It occurs to Mrs. Slade that Barbara must intend to win over one of the young aviators, who is a... (full context)
Competition in Female Relationships Theme Icon
The Artifice of High Society Life Theme Icon
Mrs. Slade tries to imagine the kind of life Mrs. Ansley will have if Barbara marries the... (full context)
Competition in Female Relationships Theme Icon
Knowledge and Denial Theme Icon
Mrs. Slade asks Mrs. Ansley whether she is afraid of catching Roman Fever or pneumonia, recalling that... (full context)
Competition in Female Relationships Theme Icon
Knowledge and Denial Theme Icon
Mrs. Slade tells Mrs. Ansley that she was frightened by the story of Great-Aunt Harriet when she... (full context)
Competition in Female Relationships Theme Icon
Knowledge and Denial Theme Icon
The Artifice of High Society Life Theme Icon
Mrs. Slade recalls how, on that long-ago visit to Rome, Mrs. Ansley had become very ill after... (full context)
Competition in Female Relationships Theme Icon
Knowledge and Denial Theme Icon
Mrs. Ansley says she burned the letter about which Mrs. Slade is speaking, and that she does not know how Mrs. Slade can know what the... (full context)
Competition in Female Relationships Theme Icon
Knowledge and Denial Theme Icon
The Artifice of High Society Life Theme Icon
Although she continues to taunt her friend, Mrs. Slade realizes that her own feeling of rage is fading. She feels suddenly guilty at the... (full context)
The Artifice of High Society Life Theme Icon
Mrs. Ansley and Mrs. Slade sit together in silence while, all around them, the waiters from the restaurant begin to... (full context)
Competition in Female Relationships Theme Icon
Knowledge and Denial Theme Icon
Mrs. Slade tells Mrs. Ansley that writing the letter was intended as a cruel joke, and that... (full context)
Competition in Female Relationships Theme Icon
Knowledge and Denial Theme Icon
Shocked, Mrs. Slade asks how Delphin could have known that Mrs. Ansley would be at the Colosseum, since... (full context)
Competition in Female Relationships Theme Icon
Knowledge and Denial Theme Icon
The Artifice of High Society Life Theme Icon
...Ansley remarks that the terrace is cold, and that they had better leave. She tells Mrs. Slade she is sorry for her. As Mrs. Slade gathers her things, she says she does... (full context)
Competition in Female Relationships Theme Icon
Knowledge and Denial Theme Icon
...takes a step toward the door of the terrace. Then, she turns back to face Mrs. Slade . “I had Barbara,” she tells her and then walks toward the stairway. (full context)