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The Old Maid – My Delia Dilemma

The Old Maid – My Delia Dilemma

In my first reading of The Old Maid, I found it hard to dissect the character of Delia. Edith Wharton made me work hard to figure Delia out by not spelling her out directly, but bringing her on gradually. After subsequent readings however, I saw this story as a sort of coming of age story about Delia Lovell and not about an old maid. Although the title is surely meant to reflect our feelings for the character of Charlotte, whom it seemed was destined to become an old maid in the eyes of Delia, Wharton uses the character of Charlotte as does Delia, to tell a story of a woman who gets a second chance and does everything in her power not to mess it up.

In the old New York of the ‘fifties a few families ruled, in simplicity and affluence. Of these were the Ralstons.

In these two simple sentences Wharton, in such a subtle manner, starts to weave the story of Delia. Wharton introduces us first to the ruling families of New York and namely the Ralstons, and their crusty conservative lifestyle. As she does this she draws us in unconsciously to their world so that, by the time we meet Delia we accept the ideals of the “Race” just as much as she does. Without much notice she plants the seeds for a plot that is very devious in nature by way of the tremor of a muted keyboard.

Delia is at first introduced as a woman that has it all; a beautiful, rich, well established mother of two. She goes about her life accepting her place in the society of old New York. To me she was just another housewife that missed out on love. Because of this in my first reading I was drawn into the story of Charlotte Lovell. Charlotte Lovell’s is a sad story. Wharton could not …

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…elia into the adoption of Tina. While speaking with Dr. Lanskell Delia learns that Jim knew all about Tina’s birth and her eyes are filled with painful tears, realizing that she killed him and he knew. And after this realization Delia leaves Tina with the instructions to give the last kiss to Aunt Charlotte, perhaps realizing the wrong she has put on her cousin.

This was not my original topic to write on, but I could not help but entertain these ideas after going over my original paper I decided to go with this idea. It seems that every page in the book I could read into this but will end here. Although I may have read way to deep into this plot I believe that Delia, in this way is a wonderfully crafted character. Wharton, in my opinion is very much overlooked and I am glad to have been introduced to her here and hope to pass her writings on in the future.

Significance of the Dog in To Build a Fire

Significance of the Dog in To Build a Fire

With regard to Jack London’s, “To Build a Fire”, I will attempt to analyze

the significance of the dog, however in doing so I will need to discuss not

only the dog, but the man and nature as well, because they all impact one

another with equal significance. It is my opinion that throughout most of

the story the dog is to represent a living creatures innate instincts

(although I was lead to question this at the end), the man represents desire

and sheer will (although he also shows many signs of repressed instinct),

and nature represents the force which triggers instinctual behavior (perhaps

a temporary barrier if obeyed, or potentially a life ending blow if


At the beginning of the story the man takes a moment to reflect upon the

many miles of vast bleak desolation that he had traveled, not to consider

his insignificance in the world, nor to contemplate his luck in overcoming

the terrain, but to merely look back at his conquest. He made himself aware

of the tremendous cold as he spat in the air, “before it could fall to the

snow, the spittle crackled”. By performing this action he realized that it

must be much colder than fifty below likewise he was aware of the possible

dangers involved when one travels in this type of cold, however he had a

goal in mind and these warnings of nature went unanswered.

The dog, “a big native husky, the proper wolf-dog, gray-coated and without

any visible or temperamental difference from its brother, the wild wolf”,

was hindered by the severe cold. Even though it was naturally equipped to

survive the intolerab…

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…or the powerful, but realizing that they are

a means to an end. In other words if they don’t step out of line and do

what is required of them, they will be afforded food and shelter, however if

they do step out of line they will be struck down for their disobedience.

Perhaps London’s’ view of the dog represented his hopes for the Socialist

Party, just as in the end of the story, when the man died (powerful

corporations), the dog lived to see another day (the working class), and in

this scenario nature would stand for justice (or perhaps God), allowing the

meek to inherit the earth. As I said I can’t be certain what the true

significance of the dog would be, but after taking a great deal of time to

consider the meaning of the story I appreciate it a great deal more, and I

am intrigued to learn more about Mr. London.

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