Knitting is one several figurative motifs in "Roman Fever." It is introduced through Barbara's mocking suggestion that she and Jenny "leave the young things," an ironic reference to their mothers, "to their knitting.” Jenny objects that the women are "not actually knitting" (Wharton's emphasis). To which Barbara replies, "Well, I mean figuratively. 
Critic Kathleen Wheeler argues that the search for truth is one of the story's primary themes. And while many readers are initially attracted to the story's surprise ending, Wheeler suggests that the story has levels of complexity that are often overlooked on first reading. "[T]he truth, like the past," Wheeler writes, "is shrouded in mystery." Rather than focusing on the answers provided by Grace's and Alida's revelations in the story's concluding pages, Wheeler foregrounds the way in which "Wharton forces upon the reader numerous unanswerable questions."