Summary and Analysis Chapter XXI



Walker, Lapham's bookkeeper, senses financial problems and mentions the situation to Tom Corey before Rogers appears. Lapham tells Rogers he has discovered that the mills Rogers put up for collateral are almost worthless because of the strong hold the G.L.&P. has on the railroad going to them. "I'm going to let the mills go for what they'll fetch," Lapham says.

Rogers, however, has contacted some English agents who wish to buy the mills. Not believing him, Silas gives him twenty-four hours to produce the parties. "You bring me a party that will give me enough for those mills to clear me of you, and I'll talk to you," Lapham says.

Yet, after considering the situation, Lapham begins to wrestle with his conscience over the morality of selling the property at a higher price than it is now worth. He spends the night thinking about it.


Lapham's conscience is now beginning to work. He has recognized his place in society and knows that Penelope has been acting foolishly romantic. Now, taking another realistic look at the moral situation he finds himself in, he is troubled with the decision of whether to save his money or his soul. His realistic development prepares him for his moral choice and brings on his change in character.