Artboard Created with Sketch. Close Search Dialog
! Error Created with Sketch.

The House of Mirth

Edith Wharton
Summary Chapters 7-9
Summary Chapters 7-9

Fatalism aside, Wharton finds ways in this section to make it clear that Lily is beginning to get older. One way Wharton does this is to cast Lily as a type of maternal figure. We see that Lily worries about Fred Van Osburgh, feeling some natural instinct to help him out when he finds himself in difficult social situations. At the very end of the novel, there is a scene in which Lily holds the newborn baby of a woman she used to help out in her charity projects with Gerty, which again casts Lily as a mother figure. These scenes show first that Lily is getting old; she is at the point in her life when she ought to be having children, but she has not yet even married. This gives Lily as a character a sense of urgency, which is complemented by Carry's insistence that Lily get married as soon as possible. It also shows us, though, that Lily could have been a good mother. She has a caretaker instinct that would allow her to raise children well, which only makes her eventual death even more troubling.