Between the Lines Book Club: Age of Innocence Discussion Questions

between the lines book club logoOur book this month is The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton. We will be discussing the book in person on July 27, 2019 at Arden Dimick Library, at 10:30AM.

Here is a selection of the discussion questions we’ll be looking  at:

  1. What do you make of Newland Archer? Is he a hero, a victim, or something in between?

2. Did Newland really love either May or Ellen? Could he have been happy with Ellen? Is he the main character?

3. How might the story be different if told form the point of view of Ellen or May?

4. What does Newland see in May at the beginning of the novel? What does he see in Ellen? What does each woman represent for him? What does each woman see in Newland?

5. Some critics have described May as one of the greatest villains of American literature. Is she?

6. Some have called this a story of identity. Would you agree? What does it say about identity? How might this be a story about belonging?

7. Wharton’s title was an allusion to a painting of a five year old girl. What light does this cast on Wharton’s view of the world she was chronicling? Do you think the title is ironic? In what sense is “innocence” used, and is it always a desirable state?

8. Upon its publication, The Age of Innocence became an immediate sensation. Why do you think that is? Is it still relevant?

"Age of Innocence" by Sir Joshua Reynolds (painting of little girl)

“Age of Innocence” by Sir Joshua Reynolds





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