The House of Mirth

The House of Mirth

The twenty-nine-year-old protagonist, Lily distinguishes herself from all other members of New York’s high society through her grace, intelligence, and, ultimately, moral righteousness. Although Lily is desperate to reach a stable position of wealth and power, and occasionally uses manipulation to achieve her goals, she proves unwilling to sacrifice her moral principles to the vicious social dynamics of high society. Instead, she remains committed to repaying all her debts and refusing to use blackmail against Bertha Dorset, despite the fact that Bertha’s cruel attitude condemns Lily to poverty and social isolation. Lily undergoes a moral transformation over the course of the novel, as she realizes that money does not necessarily bring happiness and that poverty is not synonymous with moral degradation. She also comes to realize that love, particularly her relationship with Lawrence Selden, is what has encouraged her to be a good person.

Lily Bart Quotes in The House of Mirth

The The House of Mirth quotes below are all either spoken by Lily Bart or refer to Lily Bart. 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:
Money and Happiness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover edition of The House of Mirth published in 2002.
Book 1: Chapter 1 Quotes

He was aware that the qualities distinguishing her from the herd of her sex were chiefly external: as though a fine glaze of beauty and fastidiousness had been applied to vulgar clay. Yet the analogy left him unsatisfied, for a coarse texture will not take a high finish; and was it not possible that the material was fine, but that circumstance had fashioned it into a futile shape?

Related Characters: Lily Bart, Lawrence Selden
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:
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She was so evidently the victim of the civilization which had produced her, that the links of her bracelet seemed like manacles chaining her to her fate.

Related Characters: Lily Bart, Gerty Farish
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:
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“Ah, there’s the difference—a girl must, a man may if he chooses. […] Your coat’s a little shabby—but who cares? It doesn’t keep people from asking you to dine. If I were shabby no one would have me: a woman is asked out as much for her clothes as for herself. The clothes are the background, the frame, if you like: they don’t make success, but they are a part of it. Who wants a dingy woman? We are expected to be pretty and well-dressed till we drop—and if we can’t keep it up alone, we have to go into partnership.”

Related Characters: Lily Bart (speaker), Lawrence Selden
Page Number: 8
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Book 1: Chapter 3 Quotes

She knew that she hated dinginess as much as her mother had hated it, and to her last breath she meant to fight against it, dragging herself up again and again above its flood till she gained the bright pinnacles of success which presented such a slippery surface to her clutch.

Related Characters: Lily Bart, Mrs. Bart
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:
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Book 1: Chapter 6 Quotes

There were in her at the moment two beings, one drawing deep breaths of freedom and exhilaration, the other gasping for air in a little black prison-house of fears. But gradually the captive’s gasps grew fainter, or the other paid less heed to them: the horizon expanded, the air grew stronger, and the free spirit quivered for flight. She could not herself have explained the sense of buoyancy which seemed to lift and swing her above the sun-suffused world at her feet. Was it love, she wondered, or a mere fortuitous combination of happy thoughts and sensations?

Related Characters: Lily Bart, Lawrence Selden
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:
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“[…] your taking a walk with me is only another way of making use of your material. You are an artist, and I happen to be the bit of color you are using today. It’s a part of your cleverness to be able to produce premeditated effects extemporaneously.”

Related Characters: Lawrence Selden (speaker), Lily Bart, Percy Gryce
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:
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“My idea of success,” he said, “is personal freedom.”

“Freedom? Freedom from worries?”

“From everything—from money, from poverty, from ease and anxiety, from all the material accidents. To keep a kind of republic of the spirit—that’s what I call success.”

Related Characters: Lily Bart (speaker), Lawrence Selden (speaker)
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:
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“[…] the queer thing about society is that the people who regard it as an end are those who are in it, and not the critics on the fence. It’s just the other way with most shows—the audience may be under the illusion, but the actors know that real life is on the other side of the footlights. The people who take society as an escape from work are putting it to its proper use; but when it becomes the thing worked for it distorts all the relations of life.”

Related Characters: Lawrence Selden (speaker), Lily Bart
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:
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“What a miserable future you foresee for me!”

“Well—have you never foreseen it for yourself?”

The slow color rose to her cheek, not a blush of excitement but drawn from the deep wells of feeling; it was as if the effort of her spirit had produced it.

“Often and often,” she said. “But it looks so much darker when you show it to me!”

Related Characters: Lily Bart (speaker), Lawrence Selden (speaker)
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:
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Book 1: Chapter 8 Quotes

The fact that her immediate anxieties were relieved did not blind her to a possibility of their recurrence; it merely gave her enough buoyancy to rise once more above her doubts and feel a renewed faith in her beauty, her power, and her general fitness to attract a brilliant destiny. It could not be that one conscious of such aptitudes for mastery and enjoyment was doomed to a perpetuity of failure; and her mistakes looked easily reparable in the light of her restored self-confidence.

Related Characters: Lily Bart, Gus Trenor
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:
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Book 1: Chapter 9 Quotes

[…] as Miss Bart they knew her by heart. She knew herself by heart too, and was sick of the old story. There were moments when she longed blindly for anything different, anything strange, remote, and untried; but the utmost reach of her imagination did not go beyond picturing her usual life in a new setting. She could not figure herself as anywhere but in a drawing-room, diffusing elegance as a flower sheds perfume.

Related Characters: Lily Bart
Page Number: 81
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Book 1: Chapter 10 Quotes

All her life Lily had seen money go out as quickly as it came in, and whatever theories she cultivated as to the prudence of setting aside a part of her gains, she had unhappily no saving visions of the risks of the opposite course.

Related Characters: Lily Bart, Gus Trenor
Page Number: 90
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Book 1: Chapter 14 Quotes

When had Lily ever really felt, or pitied, or understood? All she wanted was the taste of new experiences: she seemed like some cruel creature experimenting in a laboratory.

Related Characters: Lily Bart, Lawrence Selden, Gerty Farish
Page Number: 132
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Book 2: Chapter 1 Quotes

“Sometimes […] I think it’s just flightiness—and sometimes I think it’s because, at heart, she despises the things she’s trying for. And it’s the difficulty of deciding that makes her such an interesting study.”

Related Characters: Carry Fisher (speaker), Lily Bart, Lawrence Selden
Page Number: 152
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Book 2: Chapter 3 Quotes

It was before him again in its completeness—the choice in which she was content to rest: in the stupid costliness of the food and the showy dullness of the talk, in the freedom of speech which never arrived at wit and the freedom of act which never made for romance.

Related Characters: Lily Bart, Lawrence Selden
Page Number: 174
Explanation and Analysis:
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Book 2: Chapter 4 Quotes

“The whole truth?” Miss Bart laughed. “What is truth? Where a woman is concerned, it's the story that’s easiest to believe. In this case it’s a great deal easier to believe Bertha Dorset’s story than mine, because she has a big house and an opera box, and it’s convenient to be on good terms with her.”

Related Characters: Lily Bart (speaker), Bertha Dorset, Gerty Farish, Julia Peniston
Related Symbols: Bertha’s Letters
Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:
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“From the beginning? […] Dear Gerty, how little imagination you good people have! Why, the beginning was in my cradle, I suppose—in the way I was brought up, and the things I was taught to care for. Or no—I won’t blame anybody for my faults: I’ll say it was in my blood, that I got it from some wicked pleasure-loving ancestress […]!”

Related Characters: Lily Bart (speaker), Gerty Farish
Page Number: 183
Explanation and Analysis:
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Book 2: Chapter 8 Quotes

Society did not turn away from her, it simply drifted by, preoccupied and inattentive, letting her feel, to the full measure of her humbled pride, how completely she had been the creature of its favor.

Related Characters: Lily Bart, Bertha Dorset
Page Number: 212
Explanation and Analysis:
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Book 2: Chapter 11 Quotes

She lay awake viewing her situation in the crude light which Rosedale’s visit had shed on it. In fending off the offer he was so plainly ready to renew, had she not sacrificed to one of those abstract notions of honor that might be called the conventionalities of the moral life? What debt did she owe to a social order which had condemned and banished her without trial? She had never been heard in her own defense; she was innocent of the charge on which she had been found guilty; and the irregularity of her conviction might seem to justify the use of methods as irregular in recovering her lost rights.

Related Characters: Lily Bart, Bertha Dorset, Simon Rosedale
Related Symbols: Bertha’s Letters
Page Number: 244
Explanation and Analysis:
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Book 2: Chapter 12 Quotes

“There is someone I must say goodbye to. Oh, not you—we are sure to see each other again—but the Lily Bart you knew. I have kept her with me all this time, but now we are going to part, and I have brought her back to you—I am going to leave her here. When I go out presently she will not go with me. I shall like to think that she has stayed with you—and she’ll be no trouble, she’ll take up no room.”

Related Characters: Lily Bart (speaker), Lawrence Selden, Bertha Dorset
Related Symbols: Bertha’s Letters
Page Number: 251
Explanation and Analysis:
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Book 2: Chapter 13 Quotes

It was no longer, however, from the vision of material poverty that she turned with the greatest shrinking. She had a sense of deeper impoverishment—of an inner destitution compared to which outward conditions dwindled into insignificance. It was indeed miserable to be poor—to look forward to a shabby, anxious middle-age, leading by dreary degrees of economy and self-denial to gradual absorption in the dingy communal existence of the boarding-house. But there was something more miserable still—it was the clutch of solitude at her heart, the sense of being swept like a stray uprooted growth down the headless current of the years. That was the feeling which possessed her now—the feeling of being something rootless and ephemeral, mere spindrift of the whirling surface of existence, without anything to which the poor little tentacles of self could cling before the awful flood submerged them.

Related Characters: Lily Bart, Nettie Struther
Page Number: 259
Explanation and Analysis:
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As she lay there she said to herself that there was something she must tell Selden, some word she had found that should make life clear between them. She tried to repeat the word, which lingered vague and luminous on the far edge of thought—she was afraid of not remembering it when she woke; and if she could only remember it and say it to him, she felt that everything would be well.

Related Characters: Lily Bart, Lawrence Selden
Page Number: 263
Explanation and Analysis:
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Book 2: Chapter 14 Quotes

It was this moment of love, this fleeting victory over themselves, which had kept them from atrophy and extinction; which, in her, had reached out to him in every struggle against the influence of her surroundings, and in him, had kept alive the faith that now drew him penitent and reconciled to her side.

He knelt by the bed and bent over her, draining their last moment to its lees; and in the silence there passed between them the word which made all clear.

Related Characters: Lily Bart, Lawrence Selden
Page Number: 268
Explanation and Analysis:
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Lily Bart Character Timeline in The House of Mirth

The timeline below shows where the character Lily Bart appears in The House of Mirth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1: Chapter 1
Morality vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
One busy Monday afternoon in intense September heat, Lawrence Selden sees his acquaintance Lily Bart in the middle of the crowd in New York’s Grand Central Station. Although he... (full context)
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Curious to figure out why Lily seems to be waiting in the train station, Selden greets her. Smiling beautifully, Lily thanks... (full context)
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...honored by such a proposal, since Selden is not used to spending time alone with Lily, he suggests going to a tea-house, but Lily fears meeting boring people there. Selden, who... (full context)
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When the sun comes out, Lily complains about the heat again but feels grateful for the trees planted on the street... (full context)
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Once in the apartment, Lily finds it wonderful that Selden has the entire space for himself, and she criticizes the... (full context)
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When Lily and Selden discuss the topic of personal apartments, Lily seizes this opportunity to ask him... (full context)
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Lily then confesses that she wants a true friend, someone who does not try to please... (full context)
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When Selden hands Lily a cigarette box, Lily grabs a cigarette. She lights her cigarette to his and Selden... (full context)
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Despite the pleasure that Selden draws from being in Lily’s company, he cannot help but wonder what her hidden motives might be. When Lily turns... (full context)
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Lily explains that this is the problem: men are free to choose whether or not they... (full context)
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Amused by Lily’s arguments, Selden does not take her very seriously, and notes that she might find a... (full context)
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Lily then notices it is getting late and leaves to catch her train. She makes Selden... (full context)
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Once in the street, Lily runs into Simon Rosedale, an acquaintance she would have preferred to avoid. Mr. Rosedale takes... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 2
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In the hansom, Lily reflects that, as a woman, she is being unfairly condemned for every act of spontaneous... (full context)
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Lily remembers the first time she met Mr. Rosedale, whom she immediately felt repulsed by. She... (full context)
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At the train station, Lily boards the train and, eager to take her mind off these unpleasant thoughts, contrives to... (full context)
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Lily congratulates herself on setting the right tone for her conversation with Mr. Gryce, and keeping... (full context)
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...enters the carriage. Bertha Dorset then walks in, interrupting the conversation and imposing herself on Lily and Mr. Gryce by making a fuss to sit beside them. After sitting down, Mrs.... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 3
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At Bellomont, after playing bridge until early morning, Lily walks up to her room but takes a moment to look around her, because she... (full context)
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Lily realizes that she will not be able to escape her fate of marrying a rich,... (full context)
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When Lily returns to her room, she realizes that she has lost three hundred dollars at bridge,... (full context)
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Lily then reflects on Percy Gryce and concludes that he is clearly interested in marrying her.... (full context)
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When Lily and her mother lacked money to sustain their expensive lifestyle, Lily’s father, whom she almost... (full context)
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At the age of nineteen, Lily’s life changed dramatically when her father announced that he was bankrupt. This confession led to... (full context)
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Despite their dire situation, Mrs. Bart trusted in Lily’s beauty and the consequent ease with which she would one day find a husband. She... (full context)
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Reflecting on these earlier dreams of adventure, Lily concludes that they were childish. Two years after Lily’s father’s death, her mother died, telling... (full context)
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...pleasure in the material aspects of upper-class life more than the social circle itself. Therefore, Lily was forced to adapt to her aunt’s unexciting, secluded habits, but also benefited from Mrs.... (full context)
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Apart from this, Mrs. Peniston has failed to intervene in Lily’s life, and Lily feels frustrated that she is still unmarried at the age of twenty-nine.... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 4
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The next morning at Bellomont, the hostess, Judy Trenor, sends Lily a message asking her if she can come down by ten to help with administrative... (full context)
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When Judy Trenor sees Lily, she shows no visible sign of recognition of Lily’s services, which irritates the young girl.... (full context)
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As Lily tries to help Judy Trenor with her massive correspondence, Mrs. Trenor complains about Lady Cressida... (full context)
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Lily and Judy then discuss Percy Gryce, whom Judy invited on purpose for Lily. Judy tells... (full context)
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When Judy says she might call Lawrence Selden to make sure he comes, Lily blushes and says that, if Judy would be doing so to keep Bertha from seducing... (full context)
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Over the next few days, Lily feels satisfied by her slow progress in seducing Percy Gryce. When she sees her cousin... (full context)
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Reflecting on her possible marriage with Gryce, Lily feels relieved that her money troubles might soon end, and that she might be able... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 5
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Having planned to seduce Percy Gryce by convincing him that she is religiously observant, Lily plans to join him to go to church on Sunday. Mr. Gryce, who considers high... (full context)
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Lily reflects on Lawrence Selden’s character and resolves to figure out if he has come to... (full context)
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Lily makes a mental list of who is present at Bellomont and realizes that, compared to... (full context)
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At the dinner table the night before, George Dorset, who was seated next to Lily, remarked to her that his wife, Bertha, who was seated next to Lawrence Selden, was... (full context)
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At the end of dinner, when Lily heard the name of Simon Rosedale mentioned, she wondered if she might one day have... (full context)
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The next morning, as Lily imagines the endless tediousness of sharing a life with Percy Gryce, she feels that her... (full context)
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As Lily walks around in the large house, she reaches the library, where she sees Lawrence Selden... (full context)
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...leisurely pace contrasting starkly with her professed intention to make it to church on time, Lily walks through the gardens and into the woods, where she finds a beautiful spot to... (full context)
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When Selden arrives, playfully asking her if she was waiting for him, Lily replies that she did indeed want to see if he would come. Lily then reveals... (full context)
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...Selden sees Percy Gryce among the attendants, he realizes that this must be the person Lily wants to impress and he admires her planning skills, telling her that he now understands... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 6
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That afternoon, Lily accepts Selden’s proposal and goes on a walk with him in the woods. She appreciates... (full context)
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Lily wonders if this might be love, or merely the combination of pleasant sensations. Having no... (full context)
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When Lily begins saying that she has broken two engagements to spend time with him, Selden replies... (full context)
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Since the rest of the group will be gone for four hours, Lily feels happy about having some time to enjoy her thoughts freely for once. Replying to... (full context)
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Lily and Selden argue about the possibility of reaching such a non-materialistic world. Lily notes that,... (full context)
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Selden prophesies that Lily, too, will one day find that she is disappointed in her materialistic goals. Lily finds... (full context)
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Lily then directly asks Selden if he wants to marry her and Selden, laughing, says he... (full context)
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Lily and Selden smile at each other, lost in their daydream of getting married and living... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 7
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The next morning, Judy Trenor scolds Lily for letting herself be seen coming back from her walk with Selden. This caused Bertha... (full context)
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At lunch that day, Bertha Dorset takes pleasure in making reference to Gryce’s departure, while Lily feels pained to think about how much money she has lost by letting Gryce leave.... (full context)
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When Gus sees that Lily has come to pick him up, he feels relieved and the two of them laugh... (full context)
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Intrigued by the mention of Wall Street, Lily resolves to manipulate Gus so that he might want to help her financially. Despite feeling... (full context)
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Lily suggests that Gus and she extend their trip a little bit instead of heading straight... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 8
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Weeks later, after Gus’s promise to invest Lily’s money on the stock market, Lily receives a thousand dollars from him, and she is... (full context)
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A few weeks later, at Jack Stepney and Miss Van Osburgh’s wedding, Lily feels jealous, arguing that she should be the one getting married. She knows that her... (full context)
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Gerty Farish then approaches Lily and compliments her on her appearance. Lily privately looks down on Gerty for accepting a... (full context)
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...quiet girl with a similar attitude toward life as Gryce, are going to get married. Lily feels angry and disappointed by this news, since she has lost her opportunity to marry,... (full context)
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Gerty Farish then trails off, looking at the presents, and Gus Trenor greets Lily in a loud, familiar tone, which worries and annoys her. Gus hands her a check... (full context)
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Grumpy about Lily’s absence, Gus asks her to be nice to Mr. Rosedale as compensation, since most women... (full context)
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Gus Trenor, now accompanied by Simon Rosedale, reappears, treating Lily in a familiar way that makes her feel disgusted. Despite her promise to talk to... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 9
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On her way back from the Van Osburgh wedding, Lily is forced to bear the subtly mocking comments that people are making about Percy Gryce’s... (full context)
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Lily feels angry at the charwoman’s attitude, but also at being forced to stay at her... (full context)
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...day in October, the doorbell rings, and a woman called Mrs. Haffen asks to see Lily. When Lily sees her, she realizes with surprise that it is the charwoman from the... (full context)
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While Mrs. Haffen believes that Lily is the author of these letters and would want to keep them safe and private,... (full context)
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Feeling disgusted by the idea of reading the letters, Lily resolves to destroy them in her room, but Mrs. Peniston then walks in to talk... (full context)
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In her room, Lily plans to burn Bertha Dorset’s letters. However, after Mrs. Peniston’s mention of the reasons that... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 10
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During the autumn, Lily receives various letters from Judy Trenor inviting her to Bellomont, but Lily refuses to go.... (full context)
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After running into Gerty Farish at a shop, Lily decides to give the young woman money to support a charity at which she works,... (full context)
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Lily is then invited to spend Thanksgiving at a party financed by Wellington Bry and organized... (full context)
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A few days after this party, Lily receives a visit at her aunt’s house from Mr. Rosedale. Although she tries to make... (full context)
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After upsetting Lily with these unsubtle comments, Rosedale finally leaves, glad to have made Lily nervous, because he... (full context)
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On the day Lily accompanies Mr. Rosedale to the opera, she feels elegant and beautiful, and does not feel... (full context)
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George Dorset then walks in, interrupting Lily and Gus’s conversation. George, who felt that Lily had been particularly kind to him at... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 11
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...family, delights Grace Stepney, who is almost never invited to such high-scale events. However, after Lily mentions to her aunt that she should probably invite some people prominent in high society,... (full context)
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...tell Mrs. Peniston about the rumors according to which Gus Trenor is in love with Lily, and that they might be romantically involved. After Mrs. Peniston protests that Lily could not... (full context)
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Grace further mentions that Lily has also accepted attentions from George Dorset, but Mrs. Peniston, unwilling to believe these accusations,... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 12
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In the meantime, Lily does feel that she is following a fated course, making decisions without ever knowing if... (full context)
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Lily, who has not received any more invitations from Judy to join them at Bellomont, wonders... (full context)
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Back in New York, Lily attends a party that makes her forget about these troubles at least temporarily. Under Carry... (full context)
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...decides to attend the party and sits next to Gerty Farish, who is delighted that Lily has sent her an invitation. Commenting on this generous act, Gerty concludes that Lily is... (full context)
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...whereas Gerty simply comments on the beauty of the actors. When the curtain opens on Lily Bart, meant to be impersonating Reynold’s portrait “Mrs. Lloyd,” the audience emits a gasp of... (full context)
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Selden feels that this tableau vivant shows him “the real Lily Bart,” without her social artifices. However, when Selden hears Ned Van Alstyne comment inelegantly on... (full context)
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After the performance, Selden looks for Lily, who is surrounded by a group of admirers and is reveling in her success. She... (full context)
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Lily and Selden sit down by a fountain, and Lily criticizes Selden for never speaking to... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 13
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The next day, Lily receives a note from Judy Trenor asking to dine together, as well as a note... (full context)
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After dinner, Lily goes to Judy Trenor’s house, where Gus, not Judy, opens the door. Lily is surprised... (full context)
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Lily, who feels deeply confused and increasingly anxious, angrily tries to convince Gus to call a... (full context)
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As Gus becomes more and more aggressive, Lily becomes increasingly vigilant. Gus then mentions that she owes him for making him feel insignificant... (full context)
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Moving from an effort at seduction and pity to pure aggression, Gus then implies that Lily must have already borrowed and “settled [her] scores” with Selden and Rosedale. This vicious outburst... (full context)
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In the cab, Lily feels completely dejected, helpless, and unable to think. The idea of going home to an... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 14
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...happy to have taken part in such elegant entertainment and to know that Selden and Lily appreciate each other. Gerty also admires Lily’s philanthropy, although she does not realize that Lily’s... (full context)
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...less interested in sentimental than intellectual adventures, he is now overwhelmed by the thought of Lily Bart, whose real personality he feels he can separate from her vulgar environment. (full context)
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...When he sees Gus’s irritated reaction, he cannot believe that rumors have associated Gus with Lily romantically—an idea that makes Selden feel disgusted. He then discovers a note from Lily asking... (full context)
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...qualities, which makes Gerty feel flushed. After dinner, the two of them then talk about Lily, sharing their impressions of her and their mutual excitement over Lily’s true nature, but over... (full context)
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At Carry Fisher’s, Selden hears that Lily has already left, and he listens to people gossip about her. When someone mentions that... (full context)
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...about the conclusions that Selden might draw from this incident, Van Alstyne, who belongs to Lily’s family, asks him to keep quiet about what they have seen, but Selden abruptly says... (full context)
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Meanwhile, alone in her apartment, Gerty feels mounting jealousy toward Lily, whom she feels must know about Gerty’s feelings for Selden but not care. She concludes... (full context)
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...someone suddenly rings the doorbell. Gerty hastily opens the door and is angry to see Lily, although Lily’s desperate embrace awakens Gerty’s compassion, as Gerty can tell that Lily needs help.... (full context)
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Lily then begins to cry, and Gerty tries to convince her to actually tell her what... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 15
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The next morning, Lily wakes up alone in Gerty’s bed and, as memory returns to her, feels a mix... (full context)
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When Lily returns home, Mrs. Peniston tells her that she was extremely worried last night. Lily explains... (full context)
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After lunch, Lily asks to speak to her aunt. Lily begins to discuss her problems, but when she... (full context)
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Shaking with fear and rage, Lily returns to her room. However, after walking around angrily, she realizes that it is almost... (full context)
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Wondering if Selden might have mistaken their appointment for five o’clock, Lily is relieved to hear the bell ring at five. However, instead of Selden, Rosedale walks... (full context)
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Lily remains silent as she listens to Rosedale promise to give her all the money she... (full context)
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...adds that he could put all her troubles in the past, and the allusion to Lily’s problems makes her blush. Lily tells him that she needs time to think about his... (full context)
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After Rosedale leaves, Lily is convinced that Selden will write to her to explain his absence, but she feels... (full context)
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Noticing the pen with which she was going to write to Selden, Lily begins to write a message to Rosedale but finds herself unable to form words. Then,... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 1
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...believe it to be George and Bertha Dorset’s cruiser, the Sabrina, where Ned Silverton and Lily are as well. They describe the success that Lily has had in the Mediterranean, in... (full context)
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...to make their personalities agreeable to other members of the upper class. Carry then discusses Lily, saying that Lily has the bad tendency of working hard to achieve what she wants... (full context)
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...is staying in Nice instead of Monte Carlo. Although he feels cowardly for essentially fleeing Lily’s presence, which should no longer affect him, he also knows that he would rather not... (full context)
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Selden briefly observes Lily and notices that she is more impenetrable than before, which he sees as a crystallization... (full context)
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...he is with are in insecure, unstable situations. Ned Silverton cynically complains about his companions’—especially Lily’s—trivial attitudes and constant concerns for food and fashion, whereas he personally cares more about the... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 2
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The next morning, Lily is surprised to find herself alone on the Sabrina. After learning that Bertha Dorset has... (full context)
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In a new social sphere, Lily has once again proven her superiority over others, as she has charmed everyone with her... (full context)
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Lily says that she can try to use her influence to make the Duchess invite Mrs.... (full context)
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After Lily uses her skills to encourage the Duchess to have dinner with Wellington and Louisa Bry,... (full context)
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After George’s long outpour of emotions, Lily asks him what he is going to do, and he explains that he is going... (full context)
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As Lily returns to the Sabrina, she expects to find Bertha overwhelmed with emotion, but is shocked... (full context)
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When the guests leave, Lily tries to have an intimate conversation with Bertha, but Bertha begins by saying that she... (full context)
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Unable to understand what is happening, Lily feels lost and, as Bertha continues to attack her for not waiting for them at... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 3
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After Selden receives a telegram from Lily about George Dorset, Selden decides that his most important task will be to keep the... (full context)
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...succeeds for a while, although when George shows up to dinner and remains largely silent, Lily wonders what Bertha’s ulterior motive could be, since Bertha behaves as though she is the... (full context)
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The next day, Lily notices not only that Ned Silverton is gone—a fact that everyone chooses to ignore—but also... (full context)
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Selden then realizes that his greatest duty should be to protect Lily. In the evening, as he heads to a dinner organized by the Duchess, he finds... (full context)
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...at dinner together, which suggests that their problems have mysteriously vanished. Over dinner, Selden admires Lily’s perfection, feeling once again that she deserves to belong to a more elevated environment, and... (full context)
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...extremely proud to have been invited to one of the Duchess’s dinners. As everyone leaves, Lily stands up gracefully to accept her cloak from George Dorset. As people take their leave... (full context)
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Although deeply shocked, Lily retains a surprising composure, explaining to everyone that she planned on staying on shore because... (full context)
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Outside, Lily and Selden sit down and remain quiet for a while. While Selden is trying to... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 4
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Two weeks after Lily’s return from Europe, she joins her entire family gathered in Mrs. Peniston’s house after her... (full context)
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Everyone present believes that Lily will receive her aunt’s 400,000 dollars. However, when the lawyer reads Mrs. Peniston’s testament, Lily... (full context)
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Lily and Gerty then go to Gerty’s apartment, where Gerty decries how unfair Mrs. Peniston’s decision... (full context)
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Although Gerty cannot believe this could happen, Lily simply replies that Gerty is her only true friend at this moment. Lily adds that... (full context)
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When Gerty insists that Lily recount her version of the story, Lily grows impatient, saying that, if she had to... (full context)
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That evening, at the hotel room where she is staying, Lily tries to reexamine her situation, realizing that she is completely alone, except for Gerty Farish.... (full context)
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Lily nevertheless decides to stay in New York, hoping that Judy Trenor at least might show... (full context)
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This interaction only heightens Lily’s desire to repay her debt to Gus. However, after writing to her aunt’s lawyer, Lily... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 5
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When Lily leaves Mrs. Peniston’s (now Grace’s) house, she feels that she is leaving her old life... (full context)
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At Sam and Mattie Gormer’s party, Lily realizes that this social sphere is an imitation of her own, though with less competition... (full context)
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On Monday, as Carry drives Lily back to New York, she tells Lily to accompany Sam and Mattie Gormer on their... (full context)
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Lily goes to Alaska with Sam and Mattie Gormer, which succeeds in removing her from public... (full context)
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Conscious of Lily’s dilemma, Carry Fisher suggests that Lily marry either George Dorset, who is having problems with... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 6
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In the fall, Lily helps Mrs. Gormer examine the house she and Mr. Gormer are building on Long Island.... (full context)
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As George explains that Bertha also manipulates him and that he desperately needs a friend, Lily feels pity for him but says that she cannot be his friend in these circumstances.... (full context)
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Back at Sam and Mattie Gormer’s, Lily learns that Bertha Dorset has just visited Mrs. Gormer, and Lily feels that Bertha is... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 7
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In the meantime, Lily becomes convinced that she needs to find a way to marry Rosedale. When she goes... (full context)
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After dinner, Lily and Carry talk by the fireside. Carry shares her success at making Wellington and Louisa... (full context)
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The next day, Lily takes a walk with Rosedale and thinks of the memorable walk she took with Selden... (full context)
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...to explain his perspective clearly. Although he insists he does not believe the stories about Lily, he says he cannot ignore them, and he knows that the only reason she has... (full context)
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As Lily makes a move to leave, thanking him for his honesty, Rosedale reiterates forcefully that he... (full context)
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Since Lily seems unwilling to do this, Rosedale suggests that the best way for Lily to regain... (full context)
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Marrying him, Rosedale argues, would be Lily’s only sustainable protection against Bertha, since, in light of the rumors that already existed about... (full context)
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Irritated and surprised, Rosedale concludes that Lily’s attitude must be explained by an effort to protect Selden, to whom Bertha addressed her... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 8
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As winter approaches, Lily accompanies Mattie Gormer to the Horse Show but feels that Mattie is gradually erasing her... (full context)
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Although Lily has spent little time with Gerty, whose values are so at odds with her own,... (full context)
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After leaving Gerty to meet Carry Fisher, who has found Lily someone in need of a social secretary, Lily reflects on her troubles. She knows that... (full context)
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Left alone, Gerty reflects on Lily’s plight and feels that the only solution for Lily would be to abandon all her... (full context)
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Despite Selden’s apparent coldness toward Lily’s life, Gerty entreats him to help Lily in whichever way he can, emphasizing that Lily... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 9
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The first morning Lily wakes up at the Emporium Hotel, she feels a deep sense of physical comfort that... (full context)
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At the hotel, Lily finds herself in a strange environment, in which Mrs. Hatch and her friends seem to... (full context)
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Over time, Lily feels puzzled by the nature of her job. Not only does she feel that she... (full context)
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When Selden comes to visit Lily one afternoon, he only increases Lily’s growing doubts about being involved in such mysterious social... (full context)
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Selden and Lily engage in an awkward conversation, in which they remain uncomfortably distant and detached, and Selden... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 10
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A few weeks later, Lily separates from Norma Hatch, after sensing that she was being used to facilitate an unacceptable... (full context)
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The other girls, who know Lily’s story, do not treat her any differently, but do consider her background the main explanation... (full context)
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One day, Lily’s supervisor, Miss Haines, scolds for failing to sew carefully enough. After work, Lily feels depressed... (full context)
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On her way home, Lily stops by the chemist’s, where she receives her sleeping drugs, although the chemist looks at... (full context)
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As Lily exits the store, she suddenly runs into Rosedale, who is shocked to see how unwell... (full context)
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As Rosedale observes Lily, he is once again startled by her beauty. He asks about her life, although he... (full context)
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When Rosedale inquires further about Lily’s situation, she finds herself admitting to him that she owes her aunt’s entire legacy. For... (full context)
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That evening, in her room, Lily feels lonely. Carry Fisher has been afraid for people to think that she was involved... (full context)
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Reflecting on the necessity to repay Gus Trenor’s debt, Lily wonders if she could use her aunt’s legacy to open her own hat-making business and,... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 11
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In late April, Lily watches fancy carriages pass by in the streets of New York. Because of Lily’s health... (full context)
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When Lily returns home, she sees Rosedale on the doorstep and feels hopeful again. Rosedale is shocked... (full context)
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That night, Lily reflects on the possibility of using Bertha’s letters to reintegrate into society. She argues to... (full context)
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After a sleepless night, Lily goes for a walk and feels painfully lonely. Finally, in the afternoon, she returns home... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 12
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In Selden’s apartment, Lily is assailed by her memories, while Selden watches her with silent surprise. Lily begins the... (full context)
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Worried about how tired Lily looks, Selden tries to insist that she have some tea, but Lily explains that she... (full context)
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Lily pauses to cry, and then tries to justify herself, in mysterious terms, for trying to... (full context)
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Although Lily does feel that she has killed Selden’s love, she also knows that the love he... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 13
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After leaving Selden’s apartment, Lily begins to walk aimlessly, dreading having to return to her room for yet another sleepless... (full context)
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When Nettie sees how weak Lily looks, she takes her to her apartment and the two of them sit in the... (full context)
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After this chance encounter, Lily feels surprisingly better, having taken comfort in the evidence of her own good actions. However,... (full context)
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A servant then knocks on the door to bring her a letter. When Lily opens it, she discovers a check of ten thousand dollars, with an explanation that the... (full context)
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In contrast to Nettie, Lily realizes that everyone she knows is disconnected from other beings and floats about life with... (full context)
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Afraid that in the morning she might change her mind about paying Gus back, Lily decides to write a check to him immediately, so that she will not give in... (full context)
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Desperate for sleep, Lily quickly undresses and, in great nervous excitement, does not know how she will be able... (full context)
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In bed, Lily looks forward to the gradual effects of the drug, which cause her to lose perception... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 14
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The next morning, on a sunny day, Selden walks toward Lily’s boarding-house, convinced that he must see her immediately and share with her a word that... (full context)
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When Selden sees Lily lying on her bed, he feels that he is seeing “the real Lily,” but that... (full context)
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Alone in Lily’s room, Selden simply wants to fall on his knees by her side, but he knows... (full context)
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Looking through Lily’s bills, Selden is then surprised to see that all her expenses are paid for. When... (full context)
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...influences that affected them. However, he finds comfort in the knowledge that he did love Lily, and that he had been willing only a few minutes ago to start a new... (full context)