The character of May Welland in The Age of Innocence from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes
The Age of Innocence

The Age of Innocence

May is Archer’s fiancée and then his wife. She is a kind, simple, and beautiful girl known for her athleticism. May is the embodiment of the female ideal in New York high society; she is pure, innocent, and unfailingly polite. However, instead of these qualities making May more attractive to Archer, Archer worries that May’s innocence makes it difficult for them to relate to one another and he fears that her perfect exterior masks an emptiness inside. On several occasions, May is shown to be more complex than the innocence she performs for society: she is occasionally frank with Archer about her perception that he is not as loyal to her as he could be, and she manipulatively tells Ellen that she’s pregnant before she’s sure this is true. Despite these glimpses of complexity and deception, May lives her life as she is expected to, following all the conventions that Archer has come to distrust. May is often likened to the goddess Diana, who is known for her virginity and her skill with a bow and arrow. Besides the superficial similarities between May and Diana (May wins an archery contest at the Beauforts’ house), comparing May to a goddess emphasizes her role as a type—an embodiment of certain virtues—rather than as a genuine and complicated woman. She is also associated with lilies-of-the-valley, a white flower that represents her innocence.

May Welland Quotes in The Age of Innocence

The The Age of Innocence quotes below are all either spoken by May Welland or refer to May Welland. 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:
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Publications edition of The Age of Innocence published in 1997.
Chapter 6 Quotes

What could he and she really know of each other, since it was his duty, as a “decent” fellow, to conceal his past from her, and hers, as a marriageable girl, to have no past to conceal?... He reviewed his friends’ marriages... and saw none that answered, even remotely, to the passionate and tender comradeship which he pictured as his permanent relation with May Welland. He perceived that such a picture presupposed, on her part, the experience, the versatility, the freedom of judgment, which she had been carefully trained not to possess; and with a shiver of foreboding he saw his marriage becoming what most of the other marriages about him were: a dull association of material and social interests held together by ignorance on the one side and hypocrisy on the other.

Related Characters: Newland Archer, May Welland
Page Number: 27-28
Explanation and Analysis:

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But when he had gone the brief round of her he returned discouraged by the thought that all this frankness and innocence were only an artificial product. Untrained human nature was not frank and innocent, it was full of the twists and turns and defenses of an instinctive guile. And he felt himself oppressed by this creation of a factitious purity, so cunningly manufactured by a conspiracy of mothers and aunts and grandmothers and long-dead ancestresses, because it was supposed to be what he wanted, what he had a right to, in order that he might exercise his lordly pleasure in smashing it like an image made of snow.

Related Characters: Newland Archer, May Welland
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 16 Quotes

Traces still lingered on [her features] of fresh beauty like her daughter’s; and he asked himself if May’s face was doomed to thicken into the same middle-aged image of invincible innocence.

Ah, no, he did not want May to have that kind of innocence, the innocence that seals the mind against imagination and the heart against experience!

Related Characters: Newland Archer, May Welland, Mrs. Welland
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

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I couldn’t have my happiness made out of a wrong—an unfairness—to somebody else.... What sort of life could we build on such foundations?... I’ve wanted to tell you that, when two people really love each other, I understand that there may be situations which might make it right that they should—should go against public opinion. And if you feel yourself in any way pledged... pledged to the person we’ve spoken of... and if there is any way... any way in which you can fulfill your pledge... even by her getting a divorce... Newland, don’t give her up because of me!

Related Characters: May Welland (speaker), Newland Archer, Ellen Olenska
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 18 Quotes

She tore it open and carried it to the lamp; then, when the door had closed again, she handed the telegram to Archer.

It was dated from St. Augustine, and addressed to the Countess Olenska. In it he read: “Granny’s telegram successful. Papa and Mamma agree marriage after Easter. Am telegraphing Newland. Am too happy for words and love you dearly. Your grateful May.”

Page Number: 113-14
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 20 Quotes

In all the rainy desert of autumnal London there were only two people whom the Newland Archers knew; and these two they had sedulously avoided, in conformity with the old New York tradition that it was not “dignified” to force oneself on the notice of one’s acquaintances in foreign countries.

Mrs. Archer and Janey... had so unflinchingly lived up to this principle... that they had almost achieved the record of never having exchanged a word with a “foreigner” other than those employed in hotels and railway-stations.

Page Number: 123
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 24 Quotes

Is it a bad business—for May?”

He stood in the window... feeling in every fiber the wistful tenderness with which she had spoken her cousin’s name.

“For that’s the thing we’ve always got to think of—haven’t we—by your own showing?” she insisted.... “[I]f it’s not worth while to have given up, to have missed things, so that others may be saved from disillusionment and misery—then everything I came home for, everything that made my other life seem by contrast so bare and so poor because no one there took account of them—all these things are a sham or a dream—”

Related Characters: Ellen Olenska (speaker), Newland Archer, May Welland
Page Number: 156
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 30 Quotes

As she sat thus, the lamplight full on her clear brow, he said to himself with a secret dismay that he would always know the thoughts behind it, that never, in all the years to come, would she surprise him by an unexpected mood, by a new idea, a weakness, a cruelty or an emotion.... Now she was simply ripening into a copy of her mother, and mysteriously, by the very process, trying to turn him into a Mr. Welland.

Related Characters: Newland Archer, May Welland
Page Number: 190-91
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Catch my death!” he echoed; and he felt like adding: “But I’ve caught it already. I am dead—I’ve been dead for months and months.”

And suddenly the play of the word flashed up a wild suggestion. What if it were she who was dead! If she were going to die—to die soon—and leave him free! ...He simply felt that chance had given him a new possibility to which his sick soul might cling. Yes, May might die—people did: young people, healthy people like herself: she might die, and set him suddenly free.

Related Characters: Newland Archer (speaker), May Welland
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Poor May!” he said.

“Poor? Why poor?” she echoed with a strained laugh.

“Because I shall never be able to open a window without worrying you,” he rejoined, laughing also.

For a moment she was silent; then she said very low, her head bowed over her work: “I shall never worry if you’re happy.”


“Ah, my dear; and I shall never be happy unless I can open the windows!”

Related Characters: Newland Archer (speaker), May Welland
Page Number: 191-92
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 33 Quotes

And then it came over him, in a vast flash made up of many broken gleams, that to all of them he and Madame Olenska were lovers.... He guessed himself to have been, for months, the center of countless silently observing eyes and patiently listening ears, he understood that, by means as yet unknown to him, the separation between himself and the partner of his guilt had been achieved, and that now the whole tribe had rallied about his wife on the tacit assumption that nobody knew anything, or had ever imagined anything....

It was the old New York way, of taking life “without effusion of blood”; the way of people who dreaded scandal more than disease, who placed decency above courage, and who considered that nothing was more ill-bred than “scenes,” except the behavior of those who gave rise to them.

Related Characters: Newland Archer, Ellen Olenska, May Welland
Page Number: 217
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Have you told anyone else?”

“Only Mamma and your mother.” She paused, and then added hurriedly, the blood flushing up to her forehead: “That is—and Ellen. You know I told you we’d had a long talk one afternoon—and how dear she was to me.”

“Ah—” said Archer, his heart stopping.... “But that was a fortnight ago, wasn’t it? I thought you said you weren’t sure till today.”

Her color burned deeper, but she held his gaze. “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.

Related Characters: Newland Archer (speaker), May Welland (speaker), Ellen Olenska, Mrs. Adeline Archer, Mrs. Welland
Page Number: 222
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 34 Quotes

And as he had seen her that day, so she had remained;... generous, faithful, unwearied; but so lacking in imagination, so incapable of growth, that the world of her youth had fallen into pieces and rebuilt itself without her ever being conscious of the change.... And she had died thinking the world a good place, full of loving and harmonious households like her own, and resigned to leave it because she was convinced that, whatever happened, Newland would continue to inculcate in Dallas the same principles and prejudices which had shaped his parents’ lives, and that Dallas in turn (when Newland followed her) would transmit the sacred trust to little Bill.

Related Characters: Newland Archer, May Welland, Dallas Archer
Page Number: 225
Explanation and Analysis:

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“She said she knew we were safe with you, and always would be, because once, when she asked you to, you’d given up the thing you most wanted.”

Archer received this strange communication in silence.... At length he said in a low voice: “She never asked me.”

Related Characters: Newland Archer (speaker), Dallas Archer (speaker), May Welland
Page Number: 231
Explanation and Analysis:

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May Welland Character Timeline in The Age of Innocence

The timeline below shows where the character May Welland appears in The Age of Innocence. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
...purity. He imagines them reading Faust together by Italian lakes on their honeymoon. That afternoon May Welland, the girl in white, agreed to marry him, and his imagination is running wild. (full context)
Chapter 2
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
...momentarily can’t figure out who the woman attracting attention is. Then he realizes that she’s May Welland’s cousin, Ellen Olenska, who recently arrived from Europe. Archer admires the Mingotts’ willingness to... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer turns back to the Mingotts’ box. May Welland is the only one who looks the slightest bit aware of the significance of... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
...The men think it’s not right for her to be at the Opera, particularly with May Welland, but Lefferts attributes this bold move to Mrs. Mingott’s influence. (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
...act ends, Archer feels a sudden need to go to Mrs. Mingott’s box and help May through her social difficulty. He hurries to the box, where he can tell that May... (full context)
Chapter 3
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Mrs. Welland and May are standing by the ballroom door. Couples are dancing beyond them. May is holding lilies-of-the-valley... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
When the dance ends, Archer and May go sit in the conservatory. They say how they wish the announcement hadn’t had to... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
May asks whether Archer told Ellen of their engagement, and he realizes that he didn’t. They... (full context)
Chapter 4
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
The next day, Archer, May, and their mothers conduct the proper betrothal visits. They go to Mrs. Mingott’s house to... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
While Mrs. Welland and May are putting their furs on in the hall, Archer says to Ellen Olenska that she... (full context)
Chapter 5
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
...turns the conversation to Ellen Olenska. She’s very glad to have Archer safely engaged to May Welland, an advantageous match, particularly after his earlier obsession with the married Mrs. Rushworth. However,... (full context)
Chapter 6
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
...which feels very welcoming. He sits by the fire and looks at a photograph of May, thinking that she is the type of girl society expects and thereby creates: innocent and... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer worries that his marriage with May could go badly. They really hardly know each other, since it’s his duty to conceal... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
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...that she didn’t want him to. As a result of this system, girls such as May remain perfectly innocent and unprepared, and yet must suddenly become disillusioned as soon they’re married. (full context)
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Archer is in love, but not passionately. He takes pleasure in many aspects of May, including the intellectual engagement that he’s helping her to develop. She’s loyal and brave and... (full context)
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...their weddings, but unlike other men, Archer doesn’t regret the fact that he can’t offer May innocence of his own. He can only think that if he had been as sheltered... (full context)
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...to visit Mrs. van der Luyden. She’s only doing this because of his connection with May, and because everyone must stand together to preserve New York society. (full context)
Chapter 7
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...everyone felt the van der Luydens ought to know, particularly since Archer is engaged to May. Then they sit silently, Archer in awe of the regal couple who are forced to... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Ellen wants to hear about May. Instead, Archer asks her if she already knew the Duke. She says he used to... (full context)
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Ellen points out that May has arrived. Archer thinks that May, in her white and silver dress, looks like the... (full context)
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...but she sent his cousin to relieve him. He smiles vaguely, and she says that May has never looked more beautiful. (full context)
Chapter 9
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...day. He had lunch with the Wellands and wanted to go for a walk with May afterward to urge her to hasten their marriage, but when he hinted at this, Mrs.... (full context)
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Archer meant to tell May that he was going to visit Ellen, but he never managed to. Besides, he knows... (full context)
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...Italian paintings he sees here are unlike anything he knows. He now regrets not telling May of his visit, and he worries that she might come to visit Ellen while he’s... (full context)
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Archer begins to think about what May’s drawing room will look like. Mr. Welland is already considering buying them a newly built... (full context)
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...reassure her, fixated on the fact that he’s just called her by her first name. May seems very far away. (full context)
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...his perspective on the world returns to normal. He goes to a florist to send May her daily bouquet of lilies-of-the-valley, realizing he forgot to do so that morning. He sees... (full context)
Chapter 10
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The next day, Archer persuades May to go for a walk with him instead of going to church with her parents.... (full context)
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May insists that their engagement isn’t as long as some couples’, and Archer wishes she would... (full context)
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May thinks Archer is original, but he realizes that they’re both acting just the way everyone... (full context)
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...Archer will be particularly thankful to Mr. van der Luyden because of his attachment to May’s family. Archer agrees, saying that he knew Mr. van der Luyden would like Ellen. Mr.... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...at the opera, since his visit to her. She has receded in his mind, and May has replaced her again. He doesn’t like the idea of divorce, and he’s irritated that... (full context)
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...someone who can charm Mr. van der Luyden so effectively doesn’t need his help. Recently May has seemed ever so wonderful and proper in contrast to Ellen. He has finally given... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Ellen asks what Archer does while May is gone, and he says he works. As they always do at this time of... (full context)
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...begins to speak, Archer leaves the theater. The day before, he got a letter from May asking him to be good to Ellen, who is lonely. May can tell that New... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Ellen knows that May asked Archer to take care of her, but he says he didn’t need to be... (full context)
Chapter 16
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When Archer arrives at the Wellands’ house and sees May, he wonders why he didn’t come sooner. This is the reality of his life. May... (full context)
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Archer asks May to tell him what she does all day. This way he can think his own... (full context)
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At breakfast, Mr. Welland tells Archer that they rough it here, though they’re eating delicacies. May’s parents were very surprised to see him, but he said that he came to ward... (full context)
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One day, when May is out with Mr. Welland, Mrs. Welland brings up Ellen, saying that she has very... (full context)
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...Ellen she didn’t want to know about it. Even the possibility of divorce, and of May learning about such things, gave Mr. Welland a temperature. Archer had meant to speak to... (full context)
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The day before he leaves, Archer goes for a walk with May and says they could travel to Spain in the spring if they got married soon.... (full context)
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Archer is surprised by May’s perception, but he can tell that she’s nervous. She says that girls are more aware... (full context)
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Archer is amazed both that May is worried about his affair with Mrs. Rushworth and that her views are so unconventional.... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...good to her. Mrs. Archer says Ellen’s very adept at pleasing people, but she likes May better for her simplicity. (full context)
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...his influence with Ellen, and charmed by his story of dropping everything to go see May. He explains that she wouldn’t agree to get married sooner. Mrs. Mingott says that none... (full context)
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...his spirit. Ellen enters, looking happy. Mrs. Mingott tells her Archer has been to see May, and Ellen says she went to see Mrs. Archer to find out where he’d gone.... (full context)
Chapter 18
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...Archer’s long engagement. He follows her lead in changing the subject. Ellen is surprised that May is so attached to convention, but Archer admits that she thinks he cares for someone... (full context)
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Ellen asks whether this other woman loves Archer, and he clarifies that the person May was thinking of is unimportant. She wants to know why he’s really so hasty to... (full context)
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...can change. Archer replies that they can’t lie about their love, and he can’t marry May. She’s adamant that it’s too late for them to go back on their decisions, explaining... (full context)
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...herself. Archer exclaims that he doesn’t understand her, and she points out that he understands May. He says that he has the right to end their engagement, since May has refused... (full context)
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...happiness at the flowers, thinking Winsett had sent them. Ellen opens the telegram. It’s from May, and she says her parents have just agreed to let the marriage happen after Easter. (full context)
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When Archer returns home, he finds a similar telegram from May. He crushes it and takes out his pocket diary, turning the pages frantically. Then he... (full context)
Chapter 19
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...Archer stands with his best man on the step of Grace Church. The carriage with May and Mr. Welland is in sight, but they have to prepare in the lobby once... (full context)
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The best man gets excited, thinking May is entering, but it’s only the sexton checking the scene in the church. In a... (full context)
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The best man points out that May is here, but Archer is hardly aware of the procession going up the aisle. All... (full context)
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Archer and May leave the church and enter the waiting carriage. May turns to him eagerly, and Archer... (full context)
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After the wedding breakfast, Archer and May change their clothes and get into their carriage in a shower of rice and satin... (full context)
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Once the train makes it to the countryside, conversation is easier than Archer expected. May wants to talk over the wedding, and neither of them seems any different than the... (full context)
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May says she was surprised that Medora Manson showed up, and she wishes Ellen had come... (full context)
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When they arrive in Rhinebeck, Archer and May meet one of the van der Luydens’ men who has been sent with a carriage.... (full context)
Chapter 20
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Over breakfast at a lodging-house in London, Archer tells May that they certainly must dine with Mrs. Carfry. They only know two people in all... (full context)
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...having the same interests, and a tie was formed between their families. When Archer and May left for England, Mrs. Archer told them they must go visit Mrs. Carfry. (full context)
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Archer and May had no intention of actually doing so, but Mrs. Carfry has sent them an invitation... (full context)
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...the dressmakers, then went to the Swiss mountains in July and the beach in August. May isn’t very interested in traveling, and thinks of it only as providing opportunities for her... (full context)
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...reverted to obeying the traditions around marriage, because it’s much easier than trying to give May freedom that she doesn’t realize she’s missing. He’s realized that May prefers to give up... (full context)
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Archer thinks of all this as he and May drive to Mrs. Carfry’s house. Archer, too, usually avoids meeting people on his travels. Only... (full context)
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May looks beautiful sitting next to Archer in the carriage, and he says that there probably... (full context)
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The dinner is no great success, and May’s awkwardness makes her a poor conversation partner for the men. Everyone is relieved when the... (full context)
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...feels refreshed by it and wants to invite him to dinner, but when he tells May how interesting he was, she says he was very common. Archer guesses she’s disappointed at... (full context)
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Archer says he won’t ask M. Rivière to dine, and May is appalled that he would consider such a thing. He says M. Rivière is looking... (full context)
Chapter 21
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...always has despite the change in his perception of it. The previous winter, he and May moved into their new house, and he returned to his old routine of work. He... (full context)
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May does not disappoint him. Archer married, as most people do, because he met her at... (full context)
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...in financial straits, he only spends more. He greets Medora and Archer and says that May is sure to win the archery competition. (full context)
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As they reach the tent, May emerges, looking as much like Diana as she did on the night of her engagement.... (full context)
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Before long, May and Archer drive off, with May taking the reins. The streets are crowded with well-dressed... (full context)
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...though they are partners in some secret, as she believes him particularly passionate. She admires May’s prize from the contest, a diamond-tipped arrow brooch which she says May should leave to... (full context)
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...facing the water. Archer stops, thinking this vision is a dream, and reality lies with May sitting in the house above, and Mr. Welland waiting for dinner in their villa. Archer... (full context)
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On the drive home, May says she would have liked to see Ellen, but Ellen seems very different now. She... (full context)
Chapter 22
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...time. Mrs. Welland assures him that she’ll go for a short while. She suggests that May can take him for his drive if Archer’s afternoon is provided for. She always feels... (full context)
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Even so, as the day approaches, May begins to worry that Archer will be bored when she takes her father out for... (full context)
Chapter 23
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...He eats breakfast at the Somerset Club. He’s been feeling energetic ever since he told May he was going to Boston on business and would return to New York the next... (full context)
Chapter 24
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...He married because she told him to. She asks whether the marriage is bad for May. She has to believe that the most important thing is to save people from misery,... (full context)
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...stays strong. He knows she means that if he makes any move that will hurt May, Ellen will leave. She says she’ll be all right as long as they are both... (full context)
Chapter 25
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...were happening. They must have sensed that he wouldn’t be on their side. He remembers May saying Ellen might be happier with her husband. She hasn’t mentioned Ellen since; this must... (full context)
Chapter 26
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Everything they talk about seems to confirm Mrs. Archer’s sense of change. She remarks that May now goes to Mrs. Struthers’s gatherings, but May says that everyone does. Archer thinks New... (full context)
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...Ellen, who have lived in aristocratic societies, should help New York keep its social distinctions. May says that Ellen doesn’t care for society. Everyone knows that Ellen no longer has the... (full context)
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Archer keeps wondering about May’s sustained blush when she mentioned Ellen. He hasn’t seen Ellen in four months. He wrote... (full context)
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May is strangely quiet on the way home, and Archer is still worried about her blush... (full context)
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...says he might have to go to Washington soon on business for a patent case. May says only that he must see Ellen while he’s there, but he knows that she... (full context)
Chapter 27
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...even though the case he was using as an excuse has been postponed. He figures May won’t find out. One morning, however, Mr. Letterblair meets him at the office with news... (full context)
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A letter arrives from May. Mrs. Mingott somehow found out the night before what Beaufort had done, and it caused... (full context)
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...that the family telegraph for Ellen to come immediately, alone. No one wants to, but May says they must carry out her wishes. As the servants are busy, she asks Archer... (full context)
Chapter 28
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...New York the next day. Archer suggests that he can meet her after work if May sends the carriage to the ferry. May and Mrs. Welland are relieved at this solution. (full context)
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When they leave the Wellands’, May asks Archer how he’ll be able to meet Ellen if he’s going to Washington the... (full context)
Chapter 29
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May’s carriage meets Archer at the ferry and brings him to the train station in Jersey... (full context)
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...simultaneously close and far they are from each other. Ellen asks whether the carriage is May’s, and whether May sent him. He says it is, and she did. Then he tells... (full context)
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...come true. She says this is a bad place to say it, as they’re in May’s carriage. He suggests they walk, but she says she has to get to Mrs. Mingott’s.... (full context)
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...if they stay away from each other, or else they’re just two people related to May trying to be happy by betraying people. Archer says he’s beyond that, but Ellen insists... (full context)
Chapter 30
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That evening, Archer finds the drawing room empty before dinner. He knows May is home, so he wonders why she isn’t there. He has begun dwelling on such... (full context)
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Archer asks how Mrs. Mingott is, and May says she’s disturbed by the latest news about the Beauforts, which is that they’re planning... (full context)
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As Archer watches May working, he realizes that she’ll never surprise him with a mood, an idea, or an... (full context)
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Suddenly Archer imagines May dying and leaving him free. He hardly realizes the enormity of the fact that he’s... (full context)
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...formed a resolve that came to him when he leaned out the window. One day May says that Mrs. Mingott wants to see him. Archer asks whether they should go together,... (full context)
Chapter 31
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...train to run away wherever she would let them. He would leave a note for May that would make it impossible to return. However, he initially felt relieved when he heard... (full context)
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...this view, but he feels that his situation with Ellen is somehow different. He imagines May and all the conventions of society waiting at home, and he walks right past his... (full context)
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Archer goes to the Beauforts’ house, thinking of his memories with May there. The house is dark except for one window, and Mrs. Mingott’s carriage is at... (full context)
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When Archer gets home, everything in his house looks strange to him. To his relief, May isn’t home yet. He sits in his library, feeling amazed that his situation has come... (full context)
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May was at Mrs. Mingott’s and ran into Ellen. They had a good, long talk. She... (full context)
Chapter 32
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The next evening, Archer and May dine with the van der Luydens, who have come into the city to help stabilize... (full context)
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Due to his work, Archer hasn’t seen May since the night before. Now she seems pale but overly animated. The group is talking... (full context)
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...sense of right and wrong. Mr. van der Luyden is still appalled at her actions. May says that Ellen surely meant to be kind, but the older women don’t think this... (full context)
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...almost expects her to appear in Mrs. Mingott’s box, but she doesn’t. He looks at May, who is wearing white as she did on that night, but he realizes it’s her... (full context)
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...unaware of the demands of society. He enters Mrs. van der Luyden’s box and asks May to come home because he has a headache. May excuses herself, and the older women... (full context)
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At the door of their house, May catches her wedding dress on the carriage and tears it. She and Archer go upstairs... (full context)
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Archer doesn’t understand. May clarifies that Ellen is going back to Europe soon, since Mrs. Mingott has agreed to... (full context)
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Eventually, Archer asks how May knows this information. She brings him a note that Ellen sent her that afternoon. Ellen... (full context)
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Archer asks why Ellen sent this letter, and May replies that it’s due to their conversation the day before. May had acknowledged that she... (full context)
Chapter 33
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...big dinner is a great event. Archer often has informal company, though he wonders whether May would ask anyone to the house if left to her own devices. He’s given up... (full context)
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Mrs. Archer and Mrs. Welland sit in May’s drawing room on the afternoon of the dinner, making last-minute preparations. When Archer gets home... (full context)
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...will miss her fiercely. She just wants the family to leave her alone. That evening, May told Archer, to his surprise, that they should give Ellen a farewell dinner. Though he... (full context)
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Archer finds May in the drawing room before dinner. May’s drawing room is generally thought to be decorated... (full context)
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...trying for a long time to separate the couple. However, they’re all here to support May in the assumption that nothing ever happened between Archer and Ellen. These people dread scandal... (full context)
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...to him, and he becomes aware that her other neighbor is talking to someone else. May sends him a look, and he realizes he has to talk to Ellen. They chat... (full context)
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...even more. When they join the ladies in the drawing room, he can tell that May is very satisfied with the gathering. Archer sees all the most important people flocking to... (full context)
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...preparing to leave. He can’t remember anything he said to her at dinner. She and May kiss, and someone remarks that May is certainly more beautiful than Ellen. Archer helps Ellen... (full context)
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As soon as the guests leave, Archer goes up to his library, hoping May will go to bed. Instead, she comes to talk over the night with him, feeling... (full context)
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May says he can’t go unless he brings her along, and that will only be possible... (full context)
Chapter 34
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...in this library over the thirty years he’s lived here. It’s been twenty-six years since May told him she was pregnant. This is where their eldest boy, Dallas, was christened, and... (full context)
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...happiness. She now represents everything he has missed throughout his life. He was faithful to May, and when she died, he grieved with real feeling. He learned that it didn’t matter... (full context)
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Archer’s first photograph of May still sits on his desk. She remained always the way she was in St. Augustine,... (full context)
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Archer hasn’t traveled much, as May didn’t like to travel unless there was a specific reason to do so. When Dallas... (full context)
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...traveled all around the world. When they died, Fanny Beaufort came under the guardianship of May’s brother and his wife, which made her almost a cousin to the Archer children. Everyone... (full context)
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...woman Archer would have sacrificed everything for, but didn’t. He reveals that the day before May died, she told him the family was safe with Archer because he had once given... (full context)
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Archer spends the afternoon roaming Paris alone. He’s relieved and moved to know that May guessed how he felt and pitied him. Dallas probably sees the situation as a waste... (full context)