Chapter 2 Summary

While in her room, Undine decides to respond to Mrs. Fairford’s note. First she has difficulty deciding what type of stationery to use. She read somewhere that the most fashionable paper at the moment is almost blood red. To write on this paper, one must use white ink. After having discovered this, Undine had persuaded her parents to buy her the red stationery, but now as she stares at Mrs. Fairford’s letter, she questions why Mrs. Fairford did not use red paper. Mrs. Fairford’s note is written on white paper. Finally Undine decides to use the white hotel stationery. She does not want to be considered common, but she also does not want to make a mistake in fashion.

Next, because she is responding to the note as if her mother were writing it, Undine cannot decide how to sign her mother’s name. Mrs. Fairford has signed in a casual way, using “Laura Fairford” for a signature. It takes several versions of a response before Undine concludes that it probably would be most appropriate to close the letter with “Yours sincerely, Mrs. Leota B. Spragg.”

Undine’s indecisiveness is indicative of her lack of confidence in high society. She was raised in very modest circumstances before her father came into money. She has little training in what is considered appropriate. Furthermore, she likes to think of herself as a rebel, but she also likes to model herself after other people she admires. She is not grounded in a strong sense of her own identity.

After sending off the note, Undine has her maid pull out all her evening dresses. As she looks them over, Undine feels disappointed with them. Most of them look too simple or plain. Some even look old, though they have never been worn. Undine’s favorite is the gown she wore the evening before. She may not be attuned to all the rules of society, but she knows for certain that she cannot go to dinner in a dress in which she has recently been seen.

Before Mrs....

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