Summary and Analysis
Book 2: Chapter V
Lily leaves Mrs. Peniston's house and once again meets Carry. She tells Lily that she has resolved her differences with the Brys, and is once again employed by them as their social advisor. She suggests that Lily perform similar duties for Sam and Mattie Gormer, another nouveau riche couple who know nothing of Lily's past and are eager to climb the social ladder. She tells Lily that the Gormers enjoy the company of actors and artists. The Gormers are also planning a trip to Alaska, and Lily agrees to accompany them as Mattie's social advisor.
Upon Lily's return from Alaska, Carry suggests to her that her troubles would be alleviated if she married. Carry says that Lily has two potential suitors, Dorset and Rosedale. She tells Lily that Dorset has confided to her that he is ready to divorce Bertha. Lily refuses to discuss any relationship with Dorset, and admits to herself that she despises Rosedale less than she had previously, but worries about entering a marriage not based on love.
Lily reveals her own shallowness in her views of Rosedale. She considers him less repulsive for having attained the wealth he desired. This wealth also resulted in his being named to municipal committees and charitable boards, as well as being accepted to several exclusive clubs. The fleeting nature of society's favor, however, has shifted. While Rosedale has gained in favor, Lily's reputation had suffered since Rosedale's initial proposal. She begins to doubt whether Rosedale still needs her to fulfill his social aspirations, and if he still might love her enough for marriage.