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It is important to realise that both Alida Slade and Grace Ansley now have a very different social role than they did when they were young and single and travelling in Rome together before. Now they are officially "mothers," and as the opening of this brilliant short story makes clear, this role has changed what is expected of them as they leave all of the excitement and love and passion to their daughters as they go out with some aviators and have fun. Note what is said after the two old friends overhear their daughters talking about them as if they were ancient relics that must be left behind to knit whilst they go and amuse themselves:
"It's just the collective modern idea of Mothers. And you see--" Half guiltily she drew from her handsomely mounted black handbag a twist of crimson silk run through by two fine knitting needles. "One never knows," she murmured. "The new system has certainly given us a good deal of time to kill; and sometimes I get tired just looking--even at this." Her gesture was now addressed to the stupendous scene at their feet.
Such an awareness of how their own youth has passed and that the search for love and diversion has been passed down to their daughters gives them the perfect opportunity to reflect on their own past and how Rome played such an essential part in making them who they were today. Although they are no longer able to go out and have fun, they remember the way in which Rome played such a vital role in their own history of love and how it impacted other major choices such as their life partner. However, as Alida Slade finds out, hidden secrets and covered up stories have a habit of surfacing and shocking however long they have remained undisturbed.
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