The Age of Innocence

by: Edith Wharton

Chapters 10–12

Summary Chapters 10–12

Wharton also adds nuances to her depiction of Old New York by describing exactly what this society is not. Above all, New York fears anything that it considers unusual or unpleasant, anything that could upset its careful balance of rules and morals. On a general level, two of its chief bogies are Europeans and artists. To Old New York, Europeans do not have many moral scruples. They have relaxed manners, daring fashions, and attend parties where there is singing and dancing and drinking. Artists, often called "bohemians" by Wharton's characters, are similarly unscrupulous. But unlike the Europeans, the bohemians do not have aristocratic blood; they are common. In Chapter 10, Archer's mother disapproves of Mrs. Struthers's party because it was an informal party that included artists.