Mrs. Corey and her daughters, Nanny, a bookish girl, and Lilly, an artistic girl, return in the fall and begin to consider Tom's summer love affair. The possibility of having a sister-in-law or daughter-in-law who is repulsive is of the greatest irritation, because they know that once she is married to Tom, they will have to take her into their intimacy and show affection for her.
Bromfield maintains that Tom's visits are meaningless, but Mrs. Corey decides she must call on the Laphams; afterward she is still more repulsed by their nervousness during her call. Nevertheless, she decides they must have a dinner.
The Corey women, despite their repulsion, submit themselves to the inevitability of having to recognize Tom's connection with the Laphams. They are Puritanical in their fatalistic view of life. They must submit, they feel, to what will happen even if they oppose it.