The Custom of the Country

by

Edith Wharton

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The Custom of the Country: Chapter 42 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Undine finally gets her wishes, as Hubert de Chelles and his wife leave the Hotel de Chelles to go to a chateau owned by his father-in-law. Raymond agrees to go to Paris for two months, although he puts heavy restrictions on Undine’s spending. Undine complains to one of her remaining friends that Raymond is boring, but her friend suggests that perhaps Undine herself has become a bore to Raymond, a horrifying conclusion that Undine herself has already considered.
After her meeting with Elmer reminded Undine of her old self, she finds it even harder to accept her current life with Raymond. Undine secures a minor victory by getting to spend more time in Paris, but her conversation with her friend reveals that Undine is starting to consider how she might get out of her current marriage.
Themes
Marriage and Divorce Theme Icon
Materialism and Ambition Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Raymond confronts Undine after he receives a letter from the dealer who came to Saint Desert. Undine confirms that she invited him and that she feels no shame about it. Raymond accuses her of messing with something sacred that she doesn’t understand, especially not as an American. He tears up the offer letter that he received from the dealer. Undine gets angry, saying that no one has ever dared treat her this way and that she wants to walk out at once.
Predictably, Raymond gets angry when he finds out that someone came inside his chateau to appraise his tapestries. Raymond claims to be protecting a sacred tradition—he means art and history, but he could just as easily be referring to the tradition of patriarchy and a husband’s customary authority over his wife.
Themes
Marriage and Divorce Theme Icon
Materialism and Ambition Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon