A perfect product of the social code, May Welland Archer begins the novel in ignorance and ends it in wisdom. When she first appears, she is the personification of innocence. She marries Newland and her slim intellectual abilities never vary, but her wisdom in manipulating Newland grows immensely. Wharton exercises considerable talent in showing May through the eyes of Newland Archer, whose vision of her is frozen in time like her photograph on his desk. He sees too late that she outmaneuvers him at every turn and that she knows of his unhappiness. She is her mother's daughter. In Florida, her mother voices narrow and snobbish attitudes that later parallel May's own comments about people she meets on her honeymoon. Always worrying about what her mother will think, May manages Newland's life; she arranges every minute of his schedule at Newport, becoming the image of her mother after two years of marriage. Newland is kept on a
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