When Silas is told, he says that Penelope must marry Tom, if she wants him. Mrs. Lapham cannot see how this can be put into effect and believes that Silas wants to be related to the Coreys at the cost of Irene's feelings.
Silas seeks the advice of Minister Sewell. He supports Silas' opinion that Tom and Penelope should be married.
After admitting his own lack of social grace, Lapham makes another realistic observation. He sees Penelope's self-sacrifice as being excessive and, therefore, romantic and unrealistic. Mrs. Lapham knows that Silas and Sewell are right, but she still finds it difficult to completely face the problem.