Chapter 1 Summary

The Age of Innocence (1920) was Edith Wharton’s twelfth novel and was honored with the 1921 Pulitzer Prize. In this book, Wharton explores the customs of high society of New York City during the 1870s. Critics have proclaimed that Wharton’s depiction of the rigid social codes of New York’s moneyed class at that time is a very accurate portrayal. The focus of The Age of Innocence is on the main male character, Newland Archer, who becomes fascinated with the socially liberal Countess Ellen Olenska. As the plot unfolds, readers become involved in Archer’s struggle to make a choice between staying within the social codes, which encourage him to marry his proper and betrothed May Welland, and straying by...

(The entire section is 536 words.)