Lapham is bursting with pride when he tells his wife that Tom has come to him for a job. This completely contradicts her estimation of Tom the night before. Until now, Lapham had a definite dislike for the offensively aristocratic Coreys. He had treated the notion of Tom's affection for Irene with the contempt which such a ridiculous superstition deserved, Howells mentions. Yet, now as he watches the young people together, he is ready to accuse himself of being the inventor of a romance between the instantly liked Tom Corey and his beautiful daughter, Irene.
Lapham's pride has nearly reached its peak, for he now has a Corey under his thumb. Also, his daughter may capture Tom as a husband, again raising their social position. Silas' greed has not been sated; he desires more social recognition. From this peak, he must fall and be humbled. He will be forced to face the reality of his crude background and the unjust way he made his money, his only claim to social position.