The Custom of the Country

by

Edith Wharton

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Claud Walsingham Popple Character Analysis

Claud Popple is a portrait painter who is a member of New York high society, albeit not one of the most respected members. Undine Spragg takes an early interest in him but loses interest when Mrs. Heeny advises her that Ralph Marvell is even better. While Ralph has idealistic ideas about art (but doesn’t actually produce much of it), Claud represents the exact opposite, taking a utilitarian approach to his art that at times even borders on sloppy. Claud gives people what they expect from portraits, nothing less, nothing more. While some characters look down on Claud, he shows how it’s possible to hold onto a position in high society by doing the bare minimum to flatter people’s expectations.

Claud Walsingham Popple Quotes in The Custom of the Country

The The Custom of the Country quotes below are all either spoken by Claud Walsingham Popple or refer to Claud Walsingham Popple. 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:
Marriage and Divorce Theme Icon
).
Chapter 5 Quotes

It had become clear to Undine that Mabel Lipscomb was ridiculous. That was the reason why Popple did not come to the box. No one would care to be seen talking to her while Mabel was at her side. […] She had a way of trumpeting out her ignorances that jarred on Undine’s subtler methods. It was precisely at this point that there dawned on Undine what was to be one of the guiding principles of her career: “It’s better to watch than to ask questions.”

Related Symbols: The Stentorian, Fifth Avenue
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

But how long would their virgin innocence last? Popple’s vulgar hands were on it already—Popple’s and the unspeakable Van Degen’s! Once they and theirs had begun the process of initiating Undine, there was no knowing—or rather there was too easy knowing—how it would end!

Related Symbols: Fifth Avenue
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 14 Quotes

Such a company was one to flatter the artist as much his sitter, so completely did it represent that unanimity of opinion which constitutes social strength. Not one the number was troubled by any personal theory of art: all they asked of a portrait was that the costume should be sufficiently “life-like,” and the face not too much so; and a long experience in idealizing flesh and realizing dress-fabrics had enabled Mr. Popple to meet both demands.

Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:
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Claud Walsingham Popple Character Timeline in The Custom of the Country

The timeline below shows where the character Claud Walsingham Popple appears in The Custom of the Country. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Materialism and Ambition Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...it up and throws it away. Mrs. Spragg asks if the letter is from Mr. Claud Walsingham Popple (whom Undine met at a party the previous night), but Undine says it isn’t, it’s... (full context)
Materialism and Ambition Theme Icon
Mrs. Heeny says she knows of a portrait painter named Claud Popple and that he’s “in it,” but that he is not quite “AS in it” as... (full context)
Chapter 2
Marriage and Divorce Theme Icon
Materialism and Ambition Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...looking at her. She regrets not paying more attention to Ralph earlier, focusing instead on Claud Popple . (full context)
Marriage and Divorce Theme Icon
Materialism and Ambition Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...high enough for her—what Undine really wants is to be part of Fifth Avenue society. Claud Popple was the first person from this higher New York society that Undine recognized. (full context)
Chapter 3
Materialism and Ambition Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Eventually, Clare happens to mention that she is getting her portrait done by Claud Popple . Some other guests note that Claud never fails to mention how much of a... (full context)
Chapter 5
Materialism and Ambition Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...He is sitting with the woman who had the tortoise-shell eye-glass before. Mabel notes that Claud Popple is also in attendance. (full context)
Marriage and Divorce Theme Icon
Materialism and Ambition Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...call over to greet Ralph, but Undine quickly says no. The opera starts. During intermission, Claud Popple and Peter stumble into Undine’s box. They talk, with Peter mentioning that his wife, Clare,... (full context)
Chapter 8
Marriage and Divorce Theme Icon
Materialism and Ambition Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Corruption Theme Icon
...As she looks around, she notices many people she knows, including Clare in her box. Claud Popple comes over to visit Undine and Ralph, saying he’d love to paint Undine. Ralph seems... (full context)
Chapter 14
Materialism and Ambition Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Claud Popple has had his ups and downs as a portrait painter, but a wealthy patron’s interest... (full context)
Materialism and Ambition Theme Icon
...some of the mistakes she made back in Apex. She really feels this way when Claud Popple invites several of her acquaintances to come see her finished painting. No one at the... (full context)