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The Rise of Silas Lapham

William Dean Howells

Summary and Analysis Chapter XXII

Summary

Mrs. Lapham tells Penelope of her father's problems, and the girl immediately regains her composure and begins to think about something besides her problems with Tom Corey and Irene. She writes Tom a note and tells him not to visit her until she asks him. Silas enjoys a period of respite, as the English parties do not show up. During this impasse, to divert their minds, the family attends the theater. On another evening, Silas and Penelope work out business problems together to determine the actual state of affairs. Mrs. Lapham, who is actually better with the problems, is excluded because Silas does not wish her to know about all his business details. After Silas and Penelope finish, Mrs. Lapham finds a slip of paper listing payments made to a "Wm. M." Intending to give it to Silas later, she puts it into her sewing box but forgets it.

Analysis

Penelope's concern for her father helps her rise above her problems, as Silas does later by showing concern for the English settlers.

The diversion of the theater shows that this is a realistic situation in which there are moments of reprieve and escape.