Thursday, February 19, 2009

#14 Edith Wharton - The Other Two

Bila Lee
English 48B
February 20, 2009
Journal #14 Edith Wharton

“’There’s just one thing you can do, Mr. Waythron,’ he said. ‘You can remind Mrs. Waythron that, by the decree of the courts, I am entitled to have a voice in Lily’s bringing-up. […] I’m not the kind to talk about enforcing my rights, Mr. Waythron. I don’t know as I think a man is entitled to rights he hasn’t known how to hold on to; but this business of the child is different. I’ve never let go there – and I never mean to’” (Wharton 839).

It is indeed an extremely interesting story about a very complicated family. Alice Waythron has divorced twice and newly marries to a successful businessman, Mr. Waythron. The couple’s honeymoon is ended earlier because Lily, the daughter of Alice and Mr. Haskett, is diagnosed with typhoid. The above quotation is extracted from a private conversation between Mr. Waythron and Haskett, and it is basically about Haskett’s rights to visit his biological daughter. He uses laws as well as emotional appeal to ask for a visit. To an extent, the conversation discloses the complication for Alice to deal with her ex-husbands, and yes, it causes quite a number of disputes and arguments between the newly-married couple.

Honestly, I am a bit confused and puzzled when reading Edith Wharton’s “The Other Two.” I sometimes mix up Mr. Waythron, Mr. Haskett and Mr. Varick and have to re-read back-and-forth to get a better understanding of the story. Nevertheless, in general, it is a great story with a common sociological issue – divorce and the relationship between the divorced couple and their children. Yet, it was uncommon to have divorce case in the nineteenth century and thus it somehow sounds weird for Alice Waythron to have this experience twice.

As Wikipedia and our author introduction suggest, Edith Wharton had a very unhappy marriage but did not get divorced until ten years after the novel, “The Other Two,” was published. So it might be true that Wharton employed her pen to express her eagerness to get divorced. In fact, their lives (I mean both Waythron and Haskett) are very complicated and difficult when compared to normal people. For example, a kid should receive the quietest environment and the warmest parental care when they are sick, not to mention some big illnesses like typhoid. However, when Lily gets that illness, the adults are solving the dispute whether her biological father has the rights to visit Lily and when is the fittest time for him to visit.

Not only is the normal business of Wharton interfered but his mood is also adversely affected. No one would feel happy when his wife is harassed by her pervious lovers are frequently in contact with her. And I think these three are the worst consequences for this particular story. In Hong Kong, some lawsuits about how the properties should be divided are occasionally reported – and those cases usually involve celebrities and a huge amount of money.

So I think we should really think twice or even thrice before getting married.

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