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As children, Iris and Laura experience the loss of their family fortune. The Great Depression negatively affects their father's button business and Iris is pressured by her father to marry Richard Griffin in order to save the family from financial ruin. The factory shuts down despite the marriage, and Iris' father drinks himself to death as a response to this event.
Class (and gender) limit the choices available to Iris. In her marriage to Richard, Iris is powerless to even choose the furniture in her own home; Richard's sister Winifred makes all the decisions.
Like the slave children in Laura's novel (the novel within the novel), Iris is constrained by her background and plays the role of the obedient daughter and wife. The slave children who escape later become assassins, and Iris will likewise turn against Richard by publishing her story and ruining his reputation.
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