The Age of Innocence

by: Edith Wharton

Chapters 28–30

In the carriage, Archer is elated to again be near Ellen. Yet the small amount of time they have alone forces them to confront the difficulties of their situation. Archer is filled with idealistic wishes. Ellen reminds him that if they did have a relationship, she would be seen by everyone as being little more than his mistress. Archer responds that he wants them to go to "a world where words like that … don't exist." In this statement, Archer equates his individual freedom with an escape from New York. Yet his conception of a label- free world is far from practical. Ellen understands this and responds gently, "Oh, my dear, where is that country? Have you ever been there?" She explains that those who set off in search of a new world only find places that resemble the old conditions. Ellen realizes that a true escape from the judgments of others is impossible and that solutions cannot be found simply by running away.