The Custom of the Country

by

Edith Wharton

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The Custom of the Country: Chapter 25 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
For the next few months, Undine feels like a failure. Paris in the winter is nowhere near as boisterous as the summer. Since her divorce, she feels that she has lost something and is in danger of becoming associated with the wrong crowds; at times, she almost prefers to be alone.
Undine usually gets what she wants, and so losing Peter causes her to have a minor identity crisis, leading her to temporarily shun things that form the core of her identity, like her preference for crowds.
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Undine continues to mull over the events of the previous year, particularly her failed affair with Peter. Living with Peter was the first time in her life when she could buy anything she wanted, but she realizes in hindsight that Peter was not as happy as she was. She thought she had fully ensnared him before she left for Dakota, but she was wrong. Her time in Dakota was miserable, since she was mostly just there for the divorce, and she spent some time with Mabel Lipscomb, who was in town for the same reason. But then a gentleman came for Mabel, and Undine realized Mabel’s future is set, while her own remains uncertain. Undine resents Mabel for leaving her alone.
Because Undine is self-centered, she didn’t realize at the time that Peter wasn’t as happy as she was. She regrets losing Peter, but perhaps more than that she regrets that her power to influence people seems to be diminishing. Mabel is going through a similar situation and could be a source of comfort for Undine, but instead, Undine views her as a rival. Undine’s desire for success makes her jealous and resentful of anyone who succeeds without her.
Themes
Marriage and Divorce Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon