Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 581
To better educate his young daughters, Mr. Chase, hired private tutors for them. Iris and Laura did not like their tutors. One female teacher was too timid and allowed the girls to do whatever they wanted. The girls felt bored by the woman’s lack of effort and often slipped away from her and snuck downtown. Another tutor, a Mr. Erskine, was very strict and often punished the girls by slapping their hands with a ruler. When the girls complained to Reenie, she was furious but did nothing. Reenie knew it would do no good to complain to Mr. Chase, who tended not to believe his own daughters’ stories. However, when Laura told Reenie that Mr. Erskine had tried to slip his hands into her underpants, Reenie went to Mr. Chase with pornography that she claimed she had found in the room where Mr. Erskine taught. Mr. Chase immediately got rid of the man.
This occurred during the Great Depression. Mr. Chase’s button factory was losing money, which meant that things at home were not quite as extravagant as they had once been. Laura’s and Iris’s clothes were beginning to look shabby, and they could no longer afford to buy new dresses. Reenie taught the girls how to darn their own socks instead of purchase new ones. In addition, the meals at home were not as sumptuous as they had been. Beans and rabbits became the primary source of protein.
By the time Iris turned sixteen, she had reached the highest level of education she would receive. As she was approaching a marriageable age, Reenie thought Iris should have a debutante ball. Because he economy was not doing well, Reenie realized this would not happen. This did not stop Mr. Chase, however, from arranging a dinner party at which he invited his business rival, the young Richard Griffen, a possible suitor for his daughter. The two men had met at a picnic sponsored by the Chase Button Factory. Iris, Laura, Reenie, and Callista (Callie) were all at the event. Mr. Chase gave his usual annual speech at the picnic, which Iris noted was not in his usual upbeat tone. Her father’s appearance was also somewhat unusual, as if he had stopped...
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