Sleep Fictions: A Digital Companion

I.III.5 Mirth

The clockwork reliability of Lily's father is destroyed when he loses his tenuous grip on the family finances. He is suddenly rendered "motionless." Here, Wharton uncannily gestures to the American idiom "Keeping up with the Joneses"--parlance inspired by her very own family. To fail to keep up results in literal death for Lily's father. Wharton knew all too well the struggle to keep up appearances of wealth and status, and she inculcates socio-financial precarity in Lily's recollections of her father and his demise. As Lily recalls her father’s final days, her drifting mind frames him in her memory as if he were a part of a dream. This is reinforced by the fact that Lily typically only interacted with her father as a child once she was already in bed. Lily feels that her drowsy interactions with her father as a child resulted in her later detachment from him. Even still, as her minds fights her sleeping body in an effort to remember her father, she is restricted to viewing him through an indistinguishable fog. The visual blurs and thickened fog imply that Lily has entered a dream-state, but not one of restful sleep. Instead, it is a state in which “Relentlessly her mind travelled on over the dreary interval." 

This page has tags:

This page is referenced by: