Wharton's first chapter sets the tone of irony and hypocrisy that delineates the fabric of her old New York, the 1870s setting of The Age of Innocence. In her first, richly detailed chapter, she introduces old New York's social order, its code of conduct and superficial values, and the main characters that will interact within its boundaries.The reader begins to see a motif: New York society is composed of closely knit families that close ranks and follow behavior codes handed down from mother to daughter, father to son. Wharton opens her story in that cultural symbol of the Gilded Age, the Academy of Music. Wharton is very accurate in her knowledge of the building, the seating order, and the patrons' behavior. Because members of old New York society use the Academy of Music as a marriage market to reproduce
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