Above all, Alida Slade seems to be a character who is characterised by the disparity between what she once was as Delphin Slade's wife and what she now is as Delphin Slade's widow. As the narrator tells us, "It was a big drop from being the wife of Delphin Slade to being his widow." We are told that eshe loved the role she played as his wife, hosting important people and being admired to her "vivacity" and beauty by others. Now, a widow, she finds herself "unemployed" and even wishes that her daughter would fall in love with the wrong man so that she, as Jenny's mother, could have a use in helping her.
However, in addition we are shown that Alida Slade feels condescening towards and envious of her life-long friend, Grace Ansley, because of the relationship that she had with her husband. Thus her character is a strange mix of resentment for what has been, social superiority and envy.