I was trying to find some insight into some of the themes in this story and the internet ruined the exciting plot for me. Damn it. Anyway. I press on.
From the get go, Wharton introduces us to a town that has strong roles for men and women. "...its few able bodies men are off in the fields or woods, and the women indoors, engaged in languid household drudgery." You can certainly tell by the way she describes the women's work how she feels about the roles.
The character of Charity, whose name is exactly what she has become in the Royall household, definitely longs to see the outside world and unlike the other inhabitants who seemed to be content being trapped in the world of North Dormer, "she [wonders] what it looks like to people from the other parts of the world." Her connection with the earthly things of nature is really rather beautiful. One of my favorite parts (rich in symbolic quality) is when the foot of Liff Hyatt is about to "'step on the bramble flowers'" and she begs him not too. The mountan man's boot is covered in mud and the flower is beautiful. The mountain is trying to squish the beautiful flower and Charity is that flower. There are a myriad of things that the mountain gets in the way of. Another spot that I enjoy is on 385 where "the mountain [thrusts] itself menacangly against yellow sunset," once again ruining the beauty of what could be.
Wharton as a poet: "What did it matter where she came from, or whose child she was, when love was dancing in her viens, and down the road she saw young Harney coming towards her?" A beautiful sentiment miss Charity but how little you know, indeed.
I can't help but think that the rain that comes "on a furious gale" and ruins the plants is a metaphor for the doom of their relationship.
The hush hush talk of sex on 405 is brilliant. Wharton talks around the subject just as women in those days would have done.
I question the "eye opening" experience on the bottom of 407. Why is she seeing him this way? Is it because she has found "who he really is" in a sense or is it because her eyes are opened to his age? I don't know.
411: She has a vision of Liff's boot crushing the flower. So interesting. What a great metaphor for being "trampled under the foot of the mountain." Did Led Zeppelin read this story?
Why does Harney's watch stop? Is it that he is so entralled that time itself has stopped or is it a bad thing? I can't tell if it is negative or positive.
Is "The house on the corner of Wing Street" an abortion doctor's house or a OBGYN or what is it??!
There is quite a bit of "light description" in this novel.
I could talk for days about these 70 pages, but I will stop here.