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The women talk of how carefully their mothers guarded them, and how their own mothers were in turn warned of Roman fever to keep them in at night.
Bauer’s article begins with discussing the rumors of Wharton’s own illegitimacy and accusations of being an anti-Semite.
However, Bauer contends that the reasons she was looked at as having anti-Semitic ideas were due in large part to the positions the characters in her works held.
“Since the entirety of the story plays itself out against the backdrop of ‘the great accumulated wreckage of passion and splendor’ in Rome, I am suggesting that Wharton means to put into some relation of the fortunes of civilization and the fortunes of these two families, the Slades and the Ansleys (17).
The story insists, first of all, that our own myth of origins -- from which we get all our founding or inaugurating force, our authority -- is inherently arbitrary...
“As I see it, Wharton does not align authorial voice with her characters’, but orchestrates the cultural contradictions she foregrounds through narrative voices.
In order to illuminate Wharton’s politics, we need to look in other, less stereotypical places.” (682) 3.While Roman fever probably refers to malaria, Wharton’s metaphoric use of illness in this story corresponds with the historical treatment of cholera.In the early nineteenth century, Charles Rosenberg asserts in Explaining Epidemics (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ.The history of Roman treachery is repeated in a pale and humorous parody.” (684) 5.“The letter that Alida forges, too, has a similar place and function in the story, precisely because Alida seems to have cleverly turned [Grace’s Grandmother’s] story against Grace.Press, 1992), physicians were likely to believe that the person who caught cholera had "predisposed himself to disease" through sin, including "sexual excess" (114).The transgression of sexual mores and the transgression of other values--sisterhood or friendship--are so intertwined in this story that the definite meaning of the title is unclear.The same story has several different narrative uses depending on the situation: in the first case, the story is intended to discipline the daughters.In the second instance, the story is used as a vehicle for Grace’s aggression against her rival, Alida.Bauer closes the article with the assertion that Wharton’s writing is an observation of the society in which she lived: a society of violence, hatred, paranoia, and anger.Bauer’s article references many other authors to support his claims and assertions.