Reader’s Guide

The Age of Innocence

The Age of Innocence


Introduction by:
Notes by: Laura Dluzynski Quinn

QUESTIONS AND TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • Wharton’s title was an allusion to a painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds depicting 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 the early outlines for this novel, Wharton played with the idea of having Newland break his engagement to May and marry Ellen; eventually the two separate and return to their own worlds. Why do you think Wharton, in the end, did not opt for this plot line? What, if she had, would have been different about the “message” of the book? What would you have ultimately thought of the characters?

  • What does Wharton reveal about Old New York and about Newland Archer through the characters of Cynthia Mingott, Ned Winsett, Julius Beaufort, Mr. Welland, and Janey?

  • Do you agree with Newland Archer that he missed “the flower of life”? What would this other life have been like, if he could have lived it without negative consequences to May or anyone else?

  • The Age of Innocence contains both satire and nostalgia for for early twentieth-century New York society. What does Wharton find repellent about old New York? What admirable? How is the relationship between Newland and his son Dallas emblematic of the evolution of Old New York?
  • promo_TwitterBookClub_small

    Connect With Penguin

    Penguin Group (USA)
    Get ready to add two new thrillers to your immediate TBR -- FIND HER by Lisa Gardner is in stores now & THE STRANGER by... 2 days ago

    Penguin Group (USA)
    Shared from Me Before You! 1 week ago

    Penguin Group (USA)
    Have you seen the official movie poster for #MeBeforeYou yet?! The trailer comes out tomorrow! Shared from Jojo Moyes 1 week ago

    Follow us on Facebook

    @penguinusa
    RT @riverheadbooks: "This is an ecstatic moment" @carlorovelli, author of SEVEN BRIEF LESSONS ON PHYSICS, about... 13 hours ago

    @penguinusa
    RT @portfoliobooks: Powerful NYT excerpt from INDENTURED:The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA by Joe Nocera &... 13 hours ago

    @penguinusa
    Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a signed copy of @AzizAnsari’s #ModernRomance! RT for a chance to win! #Sweepstakes... 17 hours ago

    Penguin Books USA
    Enter for a chance to win five Hardcover Classics beautifully illustrated by Anna Bond of +RIFLE PAPER Co.!

    One Grand Prize... 4 months ago

    Penguin Books USA
    #1 +The New York Times–bestselling author Jan Karon returns—with the story readers have been waiting for!

    Enter by... 4 months ago

    Penguin Books USA
    Enter for a chance to win a copy of YOU BLEW IT! by +Josh Gondelman    ?and Joe Berkowitz!

    A hilarious examination of faux... 4 months ago

    promo_PenguinBlog_small
    promo_FirsttoRead_Small
    promo_SHOP
    PRH Book Clubs Survey

    Westerns

    Craig Johnson
    Keith McCafferty
    Michael McGarrity
    promo_PenguinBlog_small
    promo_FirsttoRead_Small
    promo_StaffPicks
    promo_EditorsDesk

    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Elizabeth Gilbert
    Elizabeth Gilbert
    Elizabeth Gilbert
    Elizabeth Gilbert
    Penguin 80th Anniversary
    Penguin 80th Timeline
    Penguin 80th The Original 10
    Penguin 80th Scavenger Hunt
    Fun Fact

    Elvis Presley is born in 1935 and, a little over 20 years later, he would have his first #1 single on the US charts, forever changing the landscape of popular culture and ushering in a new age of celebrity superstardom.

    Penguin 80th Book Truck