Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Mrs. Pierpoint and her daughter, Ethel, visit Zoe Blundell to inquire about the possibility of Leonard Ferris as a suitor for Ethel. Mrs. Pierpoint wants Zoe’s opinion because Leonard is one of Zoe’s tame robins, a group of male friends and admirers who gathers around Zoe. Unknown to the Pierpoints, Zoe’s marriage is breaking up and Leonard is sexually attracted to Zoe. Zoe at first believes her relationship with Leonard is harmless because she feels much, much older than he. Leonard is thirty-two years old, five years younger than Zoe, but he is a “fresh, boyish young man” and Zoe is a “mature woman.” Zoe’s husband, Theodore, is forty-six years old.
Zoe’s perspective reflects society’s double standard that an older man may be interested in a younger woman but an older woman should not be interested in a younger man. After the Pierpoints leave, Leonard arrives to see Zoe and confesses he does not want to marry anyone, although he is attracted to Ethel because she reminds him of Zoe.
Leonard leaves and the Honorable Peter Mottram arrives to discuss Zoe’s marriage problems. Peter, a friend of Zoe and Theodore who also functions as an informal marriage counselor between the Blundells, tells Zoe that her marriage is like some trophies on a shelf. The trophies themselves are not valuable so much as the struggle to win them. Zoe, he thinks, has to keep the trophies—like her marriage—new and fresh. Then Theodore arrives, and...
(The entire section is 872 words.)
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