What are the distinctive features of the language in the novel The Custom of the Country?

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A distinctive feature of the language used in the novel The Custom of the Country is its informative quality.

Doubtless aware that most of her readers do not move in the same rarefied social circles as the characters in the book, Edith Wharton provides us with a lot of information...

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A distinctive feature of the language used in the novel The Custom of the Country is its informative quality.

Doubtless aware that most of her readers do not move in the same rarefied social circles as the characters in the book, Edith Wharton provides us with a lot of information about what for many is a strange cultural milieu complete with all manner of unfamiliar codes and rituals.

Wharton's penchant for informative language also serves her satirical purposes. As part of her project of laying bare the manners and mores of upper-class New York, she gives us precise details of what people look like, what they wear, how they behave, and so on.

As well as satirizing the social elite, these details serve to highlight the fact that it is with such trivialities that the exceptionally ambitious Undine Spragg is obsessed. She desperately wants to be a part of the upper echelons of society, to mix with the high and mighty, to talk like them, act them, and, most importantly of all, spend money like them.

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