Roman Fever

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1. Characterize Grace Ansley and Alida Slade as fully as you can. By what characterizing devices does the story imply the superiority of Mrs. Slade (what gestures, what statements, what unspoken thoughts)? At what point does Mrs. Ansley begin to seem the superior person? Kirsten

Grace Ansley initially seems to be the more passive of the two women since she does not hold strong feelings of rivalry and jealousy as Alida Slade does. She is not envious of Mrs. Slade because she secretly knows that Delphin chose her that night in the Colosseum. Although she is involved in more mundane activities -- like knitting and playing bridge -- the revelation of her relationship with Delphin shows that she is also passionate. Living across the street from him for twenty-five years and raising his child suggest that she is also capable of enduring love. Alida Slade, on the other hand, is driven by feelings of jealousy for Mrs. Ansley: these feelings first prompted Mrs. Slade to write a fake letter to her from Delphin. Because Mrs. Ansley reacted to the letter, Mrs. Slade had, "always gone on hating [Mrs. Ansley]" (p. 360). Mrs. Slade believes that Mrs. Ansley was not met at the Colosseum since Delphin did not actually invite her; this allows her to feel superior in their friendship until Mrs. Ansley reveals her secret. Mrs. Slade exerts her superiority over Mrs. Ansley by, for example, publicly insulting her: "'I'd rather live opposite a speakeasy for a change; at least one might see it raided.' The idea of seeing Grace raided was so amusing that (before the move) she launched it at a woman's lunch" (p. 353). Mrs. Slade also privately compares herself to Mrs. Ansley and refers to her and her husband as, "Museum specimens of old New York" (p. 353), or as, "nullities" (p. 353). After Mrs. Slade reveals that she actually wrote the letter, she physically seems to dominate Mrs. Ansley by, "leaning above her" (p. 360), and, "continue[ing] to look down on her" (p. 360). The shift of power occurs when Mrs. Ansley tells Mrs. Slade that she responded to the letter and met Delphin that night. Mrs. Slade grows hysterical and aggressive, and while Mrs. Ansley remains composed she says to Alida, "'I'm sorry for you'" (p. 361). Kelsey

Grace Ansley is characterized as old-fashioned, and as the smaller, paler one of the two women. It is shown multiple times that she is easily embarrassed and shy. She is also said to be much less articulate and innocent-looking compared to Mrs. Slade. She feels sorry for, and pities, Alida Slade who is described as energetic and colorful with a strong face and dark, defining brows. Alida is portrayed as selfish and self-absorbed, yet she is a vivid, respected woman. It is shown that she is envious of Ansley. Mrs. Ansley begins to seem the superior person on page 359, paragraph 82: "Mrs. Slade waited nervously for another word or movement. None came, and at length she broke out: 'I horrify you.'" Katie

Mrs. Ansley is a sophisticated woman, but not as high on the social ladder as Mrs. Slade. She married a man inferior to Mrs. Slade's husband. Mrs. Slade married well and holds herself higher than Mrs. Ansley. "She [Mrs. Ansley] was evidently far less sure than her companion of herself and her rights in the world." (p. 352.) Mrs. Slade is also arrogant and eager to put down Mrs. Ansley in the most subtle ways possible. "And I was two such exemplary characters as you and Horace had managed to produce anything so dynamic." (p. 356) Mrs. Ansley seems superior when she takes Mrs. Slade's criticism with composure and poise. She ultimately seems superior when she states: "But I didn't wait. He'd arranged everything. He was there. We were let in at once." (p. 361) Whether Mrs. Ansley is lying about Delphin's meeting her or not, she has wit and dexterity coming up with the story, and does not tell her story with an egotistical attitude. Bailey

Ansley -- Is not of the same high social status, and seems to be...
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