Gerty Farish

18 May

I’m answering the WEM wrap-up questions

Do you sympathize with the characters?  Which ones, and why? (WEM pg 80)

Do you know with whom I sympathize?  Gerty Farish.

She’s kind.  She’s generous.  She’s charitable.  She’s accepted her lot in life.  She’s done more than accept it.  She enjoys it.  Going to the ritzy wedding earlier in the book didn’t make her jealous or depressed like it did Lily Bart.  Gerty savors the evening but then is content to go back to her tiny apartment and go on with her less than glamorous life.

But then Book 1, chapter 14 happens.
Did you foresee Gerty’s crush on Selden?

Oh, Gerty.

Gerty likes Lily Bart.  Selden really likes Lily Bart.  When the two discuss their misguided friend, Gerty misunderstands Selden’s rapt attention.

But then things become clear.

The little confidential room, where a moment ago their thoughts had touched elbows like their chairs, grew to unfriendly vastness, separating her from Selden by all the length of her new vision of the future–and that future stretched out interminably, with her lonely figure toiling down it, a mere speck on the solitude.

Oh, Gerty.

For a moment I worried about Lily Bart.  I knew things were going to get progressively worse for her.  Gerty had been her true friend.

But when Lily shows up later, afraid to be alone, Gerty sets aside her own feelings and comforts her.

Gerty deserves some sympathy.


Posted by on May 18, 2013 in The House of Mirth



2 responses to “Gerty Farish

  1. Ruth @ Experiment with The Well-Educated Mind

    May 18, 2013 at 9:40 am

    You are right, Christine. She deserves a little spotlight. I like how Wharton makes her human, with feelings for Lawrence, and even a sinner, to feel jealousy and even hatred toward her own friend; but she is altruistic in that she puts aside her feelings for Lily’s sake, taking her in and genuinely caring for her afterward.

  2. Christina Joy

    May 18, 2013 at 10:41 am

    I cried and cried for Gerty Farish. I hear there’s a companion novel out there based on Rosedale, but she’s the character I would like to read more about.


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