Chapter 8 Summary
Mr. Trenor soon gives Lily a check for a thousand dollars, along with news that he has reinvested four thousand more. She promptly pays down some debts and, feeling financially secure, places orders for clothes and jewelry. The shopping provides a welcome distraction after her failure with Mr. Gryce.
A few weeks later, Lily attends the wedding of her cousin, Jack Stepney. When Lily arrives, she notices Mr. Gryce among the guests. She knows that she is looking beautiful today, and she resolves to make an attempt at regaining Mr. Gryce’s favor. Just after she makes this decision, she spots Lawrence Selden, as well.
Lily speaks with Gerty Farish, the girl who has chosen a drab life devoid of men and riches. Gerty is a kind but dowdy girl to whom Lily cannot help but feel superior. From childhood, Lily has been taught to see ugliness as a kind of stupidity, and she tends to think that girls like Gerty could be beautiful if only they chose to be.
Mr. Trenor, who is also among the wedding guests, takes Lily aside to say that he has brought another check for her. He complains that she is not spending enough time at Bellomont and hints that she needs to do him a favor to repay him for the financial efforts he is making on her behalf. This idea bothers her, and she tries to brush it off.
Mr. Trenor mentions that none of the women at the wedding are willing to speak to Mr. Rosedale, the distasteful man who saw Lily emerging from Selden’s apartment several weeks earlier. Mr. Rosedale is a successful businessman, but he lacks social grace; he is also stigmatized in this society because he is Jewish. Lily dislikes Mr. Rosedale as much as anyone, but she agrees to be seen chatting with him because she knows that this will constitute a success for him. His success, in turn, will help Mr. Trenor, who is currently profiting from business relations with Mr. Rosedale.
While Mr. Trenor goes to find Mr. Rosedale, Lily bumps into Selden. He greets her breezily, and she does not know whether to feel relieved or hurt by his attitude. They attempt to chat politely, but Mr. Trenor soon interrupts to present Mr. Rosedale. Now that Selden is present, Lily finds herself reluctant to do Mr. Rosedale the favor of speaking to him. She steers him away, ignoring the obvious surprise of the other guests when they see her walking with the least popular person in the crowd.
Lily looks for Mr. Gryce, but she does not find him. Instead she meets a wealthy society woman, Mrs. Van Osburgh, who brags that her youngest daughter and Mr. Gryce are engaged. Now any chance Lily ever had with Mr. Gryce is lost forever.