The Custom of the Country

by

Edith Wharton

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Raymond de Chelles Character Analysis

Raymond de Chelles is a French marquis and of Undine Spragg’s third husband. Although his significant wealth and European background seem to differentiate him from Undine’s previous husbands, he ultimately disappoints her just as her previous husbands did. Partly, this is because Undine is the type of person who’s never satisfied, but it’s also because Raymond fails to live up to her romantic notions of European nobility. Even compared to the old-money families of New York, Raymond is traditional, since European history goes back even further. Raymond’s Catholic faith (which forbids divorce) has ancient roots and contrasts with the more recent Protestant faith of most of the American characters from New York. Raymond also has an old-fashioned devotion to preserving his family’s rural chateau, which contrasts with the more contemporary urban style of the wealthy American characters. All of this bores Undine, who prefers the bustle of urban life, yet the strength of Raymond’s belief in tradition leaves her feeling powerless to oppose him. Raymond demonstrates how there are different kinds of wealth outside of New York high society and how in spite of old money’s glamor, it often comes with traditions that trap new generations in their ancestors’ shadows.

Raymond de Chelles Quotes in The Custom of the Country

The The Custom of the Country quotes below are all either spoken by Raymond de Chelles or refer to Raymond de Chelles. 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 20 Quotes

Some six weeks later. Undine Marvell stood at the window smiling down on her recovered Paris.

Page Number: 171
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 24 Quotes

“If you’d only had the sense to come straight to me, Undine Spragg!

There isn’t a tip I couldn’t have given you—not one!”

Related Symbols: Apex
Page Number: 210
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 30 Quotes

“You couldn’t, up to now; but now you’re going to get married. You’re going to be able to give him a home and a father’s care—and the foreign languages. That’s what I’d say if I was you…His father takes considerable stock in him, don’t he?”

She coloured, a denial on her lips; but she could not shape it. “We’re both awfully fond of him, of course… His father’d never give him up!”

“Just so.” Moffatt’s face had grown as sharp as glass. “You’ve got the Marvells running. All you’ve got to do’s to sit tight and wait for their cheque.” He dropped back to his equestrian seat on the lyre-backed chair.

Related Characters: Elmer Moffatt (speaker), Undine Spragg (speaker), Paul Marvell , Ralph Marvell, Raymond de Chelles
Page Number: 255
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 38 Quotes

In a window of the long gallery of the chateau de Saint Desert the new Marquise de Chelles stood looking down the poplar avenue into the November rain. It had been raining heavily and persistently for a longer time than she could remember. Day after day the hills beyond the park had been curtained by motionless clouds, the gutters of the long steep roofs had gurgled with a perpetual overflow, the opaque surface of the moat been peppered by a continuous pelting of big drops.

Related Characters: Undine Spragg, Raymond de Chelles
Related Symbols: The Stentorian, Fifth Avenue
Page Number: 300
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 40 Quotes

“Sell it? Sell Saint Desert?”

The suggestion seemed to strike him as something monstrously, almost fiendishly significant: as if her random word had at last thrust into his hand the clue to their whole unhappy difference. Without understanding this, she guessed it from the change in his face: it was as if a deadly solvent had suddenly decomposed its familiar lines.

Related Characters: Raymond de Chelles (speaker), Undine Spragg, Peter Van Degen
Related Symbols: The Stentorian
Page Number: 323
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 44 Quotes

“Hullo!” he exclaimed, surprised; and as he stood aside to let her enter she saw him draw out his watch and glance at it surreptitiously. He was expecting someone, or he had an engagement elsewhere—something claimed him from which she was excluded. The thought flushed her with sudden resolution. She knew now what she had come for—to keep him from every one else, to keep him for herself alone.

“Don’t send me away!” she said, and laid her hand on his beseechingly.

Related Characters: Elmer Moffatt (speaker), Undine Spragg (speaker), Raymond de Chelles
Page Number: 347
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Custom of the Country LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Custom of the Country PDF

Raymond de Chelles Character Timeline in The Custom of the Country

The timeline below shows where the character Raymond de Chelles appears in The Custom of the Country. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 19
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...he might eventually write to Laura Fairford. He is dining with a French marquis named Raymond de Chelles, and they discuss their thoughts about marriage. Just then, Raymond happens to notice... (full context)
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...that Undine wants her privacy with Peter, so he’s surprised when Peter invites him and Raymond to join their dining party. They move to Undine’s table, where she is with some... (full context)
Chapter 20
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...feels that the main factor making her enjoy Paris more is her new friendship with Raymond. She finds him attractive, and while she knows that his own attention toward her might... (full context)
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...just suddenly disappeared for a couple days, and she tells him she went away to Raymond’s chateau. Peter believes Raymond just wants to “compromise” Undine. Undine replies that, based on his... (full context)
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...on a new life. Peter takes this to mean that she is thinking of marrying Raymond. Undine refuses to give a straight answer about this. Just then, a telegram from Laura... (full context)
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...seems to imply that the only way she’ll stay in Europe is if she marries Raymond. Peter angrily walks out, and Undine worries she’s gone too far, but then Peter comes... (full context)
Chapter 24
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...New York friends have already shunned her over the divorce. Some of her friends feel Raymond would have been a better choice than Peter. (full context)
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Undine has not seen Raymond since coming back to Paris this time, preferring to leave any meeting with him up... (full context)
Chapter 27
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...gets her attention when she reveals that she is Princess Lili Estradina, the cousin of Raymond. They talk, and the Princess invites Undine to come see her mother. Undine feels that... (full context)
Chapter 28
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...see him looking happy, which she finds pitiable. Undine’s thoughts are interrupted when she feels Raymond taking her hand. (full context)
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Although Raymond seems as infatuated with Undine as ever, she has learned to be cautious. He just... (full context)
Chapter 29
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...is once more in Paris. She feels successful, having declared that she will only see Raymond in the presence of his aunt, the Duchess, a decision that has also raised Undine’s... (full context)
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Marrying Raymond will be difficult for Undine, since the Catholic Church doesn’t recognize divorce, meaning that marrying... (full context)
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...good man who can be a father to him and begins to cry. Just then, Raymond comes through the door. He introduces her to the concept of annulling a marriage. (full context)
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...has been treating Undine like she’s invisible, which really annoys Undine. Eventually, she hears that Raymond’s mother, the Marquise de Chelles, has found out about Undine’s past and disapproves. They believe... (full context)
Chapter 30
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A few days after discussing annulment with Raymond, Undine runs into Elmer again. While she wasn’t certain that Elmer noticed her last time,... (full context)
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...has something to do with the gentleman she was with in Nice the other day (Raymond). When Undine mentions needing money for an annulment, Elmer makes fun of her, wondering if... (full context)
Chapter 37
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...new grandparents’ drawing room, where portraits of ladies and gentlemen hang everywhere on the walls. Raymond encourages Paul to kiss his new grandmother, the Marquise de Chelles. As Undine watches, she’s... (full context)
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One thing Undine likes about her new living situation is that Raymond is more willing to admit when he feels more jealous than Ralph ever was, making... (full context)
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...themselves turn against Undine, who they believe has caused the growing rift between them and Raymond’s family. The Chelles were themselves skeptical of Undine, but they allowed Raymond to marry her... (full context)
Chapter 38
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...but the chateau gave him more space to play outside. But then things change when Raymond’s father dies. (full context)
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At first, Undine thought it might be a good thing to see Raymond promoted in his family by his father’s death. But now, during the mourning period, Undine... (full context)
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Raymond wants to tend to some family land, and this requires him to be there in... (full context)
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One day, Raymond has to go to Paris to sort out some issue with his brother, Hubert de... (full context)
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Raymond then reveals that he has allowed for Hubert de Chelles and his future wife to... (full context)
Chapter 39
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As more time passes, Undine is surprised and disappointed to see that Raymond is not as different from Ralph as he seems. He also spends his time reading... (full context)
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...some Paris friends, Undine gets the idea that perhaps she should have a child with Raymond, since not having a child with him seems to be hurting her reputation. She tells... (full context)
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Undine is embarrassed that she can’t convince Raymond to have a child, since she’s used to getting her way with husbands. Her days... (full context)
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...let the Chelles keep her shut inside all day. Undine responds that she didn’t know Raymond would be so jealous before she married him. The Princess scoffs at this, suggesting that... (full context)
Chapter 40
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Raymond stops commenting on Undine’s high expenses, which Undine takes as confirmation that Princess Estradina was... (full context)
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Raymond and Undine each accuse the other of not understanding their needs. Undine suggests that Raymond... (full context)
Chapter 41
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Undine is shocked at how little influence she seems to have over Raymond. At one point, she even suggests that if they disagree so much they should separate,... (full context)
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At Saint Desert while Raymond is away on a trip, a visitor comes. Undine has been expecting him. The man... (full context)
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...asks Elmer why he helped her in the past when she was trying to marry Raymond. Elmer says he doesn’t keep grudges and figured helping Undine might be good for business.... (full context)
Chapter 42
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...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... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Raymond confronts Undine after he receives a letter from the dealer who came to Saint Desert.... (full context)
Chapter 43
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Undine watches Raymond leave, knowing that despite their recent argument, he’ll be courteous the next time they see... (full context)
Chapter 44
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Undine guessed correctly when she assumed that Raymond would go back to life as usual after their argument the other day. They begin... (full context)
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...Undine tells him it was a mistake for the dealer to write a letter to Raymond. (full context)
Chapter 46
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Paul still likes Raymond best out of all his fathers, but Raymond has totally disappeared from his life. Elmer... (full context)
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Paul happens to notice some tapestries that used to hang in Raymond’s chateau at Saint Desert. Elmer says Paul has a good eye to remember them. Paul... (full context)