Sleep Fictions: A Digital Companion

II.X.2 Mirth

After the nouveau-riche Mrs. Hatch fails to engage with Lily in a quid pro quo social schema—the singular method through which Lily received social graces from her previous women patrons, Lily’s only recourse is to go to work at a women’s hat shop. Despite her employer’s “being willing from the first to employ Lily in the show-room: as a displayer of hats, a fashionable beauty might be a valuable asset," Lily refuses to take on the role of hat modeling and requests a position in the lady’s millinery. Lily’s rejection of the modeling position mirrors her dissatisfaction with her tenure as Mrs. Hatch’s “secretary.” Lily’s growing revelations throughout the novel—about aging and the social and financial burdens of fashionability—lead her to conclusion that she must learn to produce via “profitable activity," as opposed to physical beauty.

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