Chapter 9 opens with an important reflection by Silas on the nature of his self-made success. He is proud that he was able to take the son of someone as illustrious as Bromfield Corey under his wing, and he also pays a great deal of lip service to Tom's industriousness and strong work ethic. When Silas mentions some of this praise for Tom Corey in his home, however, Persis wonders aloud if Silas is perhaps just using Tom's business partnership as an excuse to force Irene onto him as a marriage partner. Silas is affronted by Persis' accusations, but decides to offer Tom little social attention, apart from the occasional ride in Silas' buggy.
On one such occasion when Silas offers Tom a ride, the duo stop at the house on Beacon Street, and while Persis and Silas talk with the carpenter upstairs, Tom is able to interact with Irene alone downstairs by a bow window, where the flooring had just been previously laid. Irene and Tom discuss Middlemarch (which had earlier come up in Chapter 7 at the Laphams' cottage in Nantasket), as well as some other works of George Eliot, but it is clear that Irene does not have the intellectual capacity to discuss such things with depth. As their conversation comes to encompass authors of history like Gibbon, poets like Tennyson, and even Shakespeare, Irene consistently uses her parasol to toy with a wood shaving from the freshly laid floor. Eventually, after discussing literature and the house's construction for a bit, Tom calls Irene out for her nervous play with the shavings: "You seem to have a great passion for playing with shavings" (115). Irene is initially shy and flustered, but Tom offers to hold a shaving down with his foot so that Irene can cut it clean in two with the point of her parasol. Irene asks Tom if he likes the smell of wood shavings, and he says that he does. As a joke, he offers one to Irene "like a flower," and she puts it in her belt (116).
The point of view then switches to a dinner later that evening at the Corey home. Bromfield and Tom discuss the average literature of "non-cultivated people," and Bromfield makes a series of elitist comments about the "bestial darkness" of the masses and their intellects (116-117). Tom discusses how the Laphams seem to be relatively uncultured, but also advanced enough to be apologetic for their lack of culture and literary knowledge. This leads Bromfield to make another elitist (and, to boot, racist) comment about how even the least "civilized" people (among whom he lists the Sioux) are not unintelligent, but fail to read and thus learn about the world of society (118). Eventually, this discussion yields to a conversation between father and son about whether Bromfield should make Slias' acquaintance. He suggests having a dinner, but Tom rejects this idea.
The point of view then switches back to the Lapham house, where Slias and Persis are discussing this very topic. Silas wonders why Bromfield has not yet reached out to him, but Persis reminds Silas of their social inferiority and the lack of common ground between the two families. Silas is indignant at Persis' comments, citing his vast wealth and effort as an equalizer between their family and the Coreys. Persis, however, reminds Silas that there is a whole code of social decorum that they are not privy to as a new money family, and she assures him that these criticisms are out of love. She also once again reminds Silas that it would be ill-advised to have taken on Tom solely in the hopes of ingratiating the Lapham family with Boston high society.
As Silas and Persis talk, Irene returns home and is confronted by Penelope about the wood shaving. Penelope teases Irene, saying that Tom was not with Irene at the house earlier that day, but rather walking with her on the beach. The two puzzle over the implication of Irene allowing Tom to help her split a shaving in two (i.e., holding it down with his foot while she used her parasol). They also meditate on how women are not usually expected to make the first advance at a man they are interested in. This, too, however, eventually yields to banter and teasing between the two sisters.
Chapter 9 closes with a conversation between Persis and Penelope the following day, during which Persis asks her daughter about her interpretation of the shaving in Irene's belt. After Penelope offers her interpretation that Tom is interested in Irene, the two debate the merits of this point. Most importantly, while Penelope claims that he likely has fallen for Irene on account of her beauty, Persis insists that Tom could not be interested in Irene, since if he did, he would be sure to come around much more without being called. The two conclude their discussion by saying that, even though it stresses them out to know Silas has the idea in his head that Tom and Irene will fall in love, they must deal with it.
Chapter 10 opens with Bromfield Corey's meditation on how empty and serene Boston seems to be in the summer if one remains instead of leaving to go on vacation. This commentary on the serenity of Boston in summer then yields to a brief description of the rumor mill of Boston high society, followed by a claim that virtually everyone of status will have known about Tom's business arrangement with Silas by the time that they return to the city. Bromfield thinks about Tom's honestly and simple, virtuous sense of right and wrong, and how different he is from his own son. Bromfield thinks about Tom's prevailing sweet aura, and he thinks about how that trait cannot be traced back to any of his progenitors or ancestors, unlike some other traits like "practicality and common sense" (128). Brief mention is also made of Tom's excellent work ethic during his time at Silas' business.
The narrative's point of view then switches to Silas, at which point readers are then told of how Silas has used the building of his house as an inroad to understanding bourgeois aesthetics. Persis comments on the exorbitant sums that Silas is spending on the house, but Silas assures her that he has made a good deal of money in the stock market. A few days later, Silas comes down to Nantasket and appears to be very happy, but he does not say why until he is alone with Persis. Once alone, however, he tells her that he has had a visit from his old business partner Mr. Rogers. Silas explains that Mr. Rogers appeared at his workplace and asked Silas for the money to fund a patent that he wants to scale up for business. Silas provided Rogers with the money, but as collateral, he also took a lot of stock in Rogers' business. Persis asks Silas if he owned up to Rogers and apologized for his earlier business indiscretions, but he says that he refused. Eventually, Persis says that she is satisfied with this course of events and has made things up enough to Mr. Rogers. Silas' final comment on the business with Mr. Rogers is that he does not expect to ever press him to return the money that he loaned.
Silas brings Tom Corey to Nantasket for dinner. On the veranda, Irene sits passively by while Penelope entertains Corey, occasionally speaking herself but consistently looking to Penelope for approval of what she says. Penelope's droll sense of humor and casually told stories entrance and amuse Tom. Meanwhile, inside, Persis once again submits to Silas her hope that Silas is not attempting to force Tom on Irene, whom he might not even be attracted to. They puzzle over what Penelope might be talking about, then turn their discussion towards Penelope in general. They talk about how she reads a great deal, but might not be as "practical" as the less intellectual Irene (135-136). Persis even tells Silas that, when the two girls are together, any task requiring action makes onlookers think that Irene is the eldest (on account of her industriousness) but that any speaking immediately reveals that Penelope is the smarter Lapham daughter.
Later, Tom is shown to the boat that he will take home. After parting with Silas, he thinks extensively about how "charming" he found Penelope and her sense of humor (136).
Chapter 11 opens as Tom Corey returns home from the Laphams. He meets with Bromfield, and suggests that his father ought to meet with Silas Lapham, since to do otherwise would seem to be an intentional ignorance on Bromfield's part. Bromfield suggests that he would have met with Silas at once if not for Tom's earlier hesitation, but goes on to suggest that he listens to Tom because he feels that Tom is a proper and decorous Bostonian. Tom apologizes for his earlier misjudgment of the situation, and Bromfield says he will come to Silas' office with Tom the following day. What follows is then a lengthy discussion of whether Tom and Bromfield feel the Laphams are ready for Boston high society. When Tom says that the Laphams are "people of good sense and—right ideas," Bromfield replies by saying that this is not enough, and that high society demands they have several additional, graceful qualities (138). Bromfield is aghast at Tom's suggestions that the Laphams have probably never given a dinner and that they likely drink ice water instead of wine. Still, despite this, Bromfield suggests that he will help Silas ingratiate himself with Boston society by aiding his election to exclusive clubs and the like.
The next morning, Bromfield appears in Silas' office with Tom. Silas feigns a cool indifference and pretends not to recognize Bromfield on sight. Silas and Bromfield then have a very lengthy conversation that primarily revolves around Silas praising Tom and his self-motivation, despite his entitlement and privileged origins. Bromfield pretends interest in these civilities and responds fairly minimally throughout the conversation. As Bromfield rises to leave, Silas shows him around the warehouse and various paints, including the Persis Brand. Notably, when Silas expresses embarrassment that Bromfield might have read Bartley's article on him, Bromfield replies that he does not read Bartley's paper and only reads The Daily Advertiser, an old-fashioned newspaper. Slias sees Bromfield out and offers him a horse ride, but he refuses on the grounds that Tom has previously told him about Silas' fast driving habits. Walking back into his office, Silas makes a point of performing for Tom that he was not overwhelmed by the honor of Bromfield visiting.
Later, Silas tells Persis that Bromfield paid him a visit at work. When Persis asks what kind of person Bromfield is, Silas tells her that he was "the pleasantest man I ever did see" (145). He then tries to hide his internal conflict—one rooted in his simultaneous desire to seem steadfast and self-made and his genuine flattery by the compliments of old money—from his wife. Silas says he wants to rush the construction of their home to be done by Thanksgiving instead of New Years, so that they might throw a housewarming for the Coreys sooner than later. Persis insults Silas at this suggestion, saying that this would make them look desperate and ruin the family's public reputation. When Silas suggests taking Bromfield to a fish dinner, Persis also gives him her scorn. After Silas retires upstairs to his room, Persis and Penelope have another conversation about whether Silas is acting within reason with regard to the Coreys. Persis seems to think that Tom might actually like Irene and admires Irene's cooking and cleaning skills, despite her upbringing. In response, Penelope says simply that if things are meant to work out, they will, and she suggests giving Silas free rein to act as he sees fit.
The next morning, Silas does not feel good, and the women of his family prevent him from going to work, citing his lack of vacation time during the normal work-year as a reason. Persis even goes as far as to suggest that they should let Silas rest because the more money he earns, the more money he seems to want. In response to their actions, Silas is very angry, and Persis tells Silas that they will yield and let him go to work tomorrow. Tom Corey arrives on the six o'clock boat, and Persis and Silas get into an argument about what Silas ought to wear to receive Tom's company. Irene stalls Tom while Silas gets ready, and Silas is surprised to realize that Tom is there for civility's sake and not for business. Persis tells Penelope that she ought to go downstairs and make sure Irene is not alone with Tom, but Penelope insists that they be left alone, since if Tom is really interested in Irene, he is there to spend time with Irene and not her. Persis assents, and Penelope goes to her room to listlessly stare at a book.
Irene comes up to her room with her sister, and she tells Penelope that Tom's call went well. Specifically, she mentions that all they talked about was Penelope herself, and how interesting Tom finds her. Irene puzzles over whether she was meant to ask Tom to come again, and Penelope tells her that if he truly cares for her, he will come of his own accord. He does indeed come later in the week, but he only asks after Penelope and calls on her. When asked by Persis, Penelope even clearly states that Tom "never mentioned Irene to me" (153). Penelope also suggests that Tom might be calling on them so much because none of his other friends are back from out of town.
The chapter closes as Persis once again tells Silas that she does not know how she feels about Tom coming around so much. When Silas rebuffs that it took him a very long time himself to work up the courage to ask out Persis, she replies by saying that things are different for Tom because of his social status. This angers Silas immensely, and he asserts that his wealth and self-made status put him on the same playing field as anyone else. He even suggests that he talk to Tom about things himself, but Persis dissuades him from this.
Anna Corey returns to Boston in October with her daughters. Both Lily, the elder daughter, and Nanny, the younger daughter, are described as having hollow occupations, despite being well-bred and well-raised. Because their own work and interests are hollow, they pay a great deal of attention to their brother Tom's affairs, and they talk about Tom's business extensively with their mother. Specifically, all the women of the family take great interest in Tom because neither daughter is married, and they have developed feelings of ownership over him. In other words, they believe that the normal course of events would be for Tom to be protective of his sisters until their marriage into another family, but because they are still unmarried, the feelings have reversed now that Tom threatens to court one of the Lapham daughters. The women puzzle over what a simple girl like Irene might even talk about with the more educated Tom.
The Corey women then conspire to "oppose [Irene and Tom] in all proper ways," saying that they will first consult with Tom to see what options are available to them (158). Tom tells Anna and Nanny about his calling at Nantasket, as well as about the Lapham's home that they are building on Beacon Street. The architect that the Laphams are using is also a friend of the Coreys. Tom goes on to say that the Lapham daughters are not very ambitious, but that they are simple and nice girls. Speaking of Penelope first, Tom brings up her intellect and suggests that Anna will like her when they meet. Of Irene, he mentions that she is limited, but that her intellectual limitations just make one more admiring of what she is able to accomplish given those limitations. Almost immediately, however, Tom is back to speaking of Penelope and her unexpected wit and humor. He seems to be thinking of Penelope in a prolonged reverie, which Anna notices.
Afterwards, Anna speaks with her husband Bromfield, saying that she is unsure if Tom admires Irene. Bromfield submits two claims in response. First, he suggests that Tom was simply "dangling" or flirting with Irene. Second, he suggests that the lack of available women in Boston throughout the summer may have also drawn Tom to the Lapham girls. Paradoxically, while Anna states that she would not like Tom to be hanging around the Laphams' home without serious intent, Bromfield retorts that she would also not be happy if he truly went there with the intent to court Irene. The duo puzzle over whether or not to directly ask Tom about Irene, but they decide that it is most likely that nothing has yet evolved between them. After discussing their own lengthy courtship experience and reflecting on the roles of their parents, Anna resolves to pay a visit to the Laphams in Nankeen Square. She feels additionally justified in doing so on account of her unpaid debts from their Canadian encounter, as well as her earlier calling on the Laphams to donate to her own charity.
Anna Corey arrives in Nankeen Square, and Persis is incredibly nervous to receive her. Persis steels herself by saying that she is every bit as respectable as the Coreys, and she thinks about how the first time she met Mrs. Corey, she felt equal to her only because she did not realize who Mrs. Corey truly was. After a brief and cursory exchange with Anna, Anna asks after Penelope. Persis retrieves Penelope, who cowers on the other side of the room while eying Mrs. Corey. Anna and Persis continue their conversation, with occasional cues being made from Anna towards Penelope. Anna is actively testing Penelope to see if she can discern what her son sees in her. Penelope's sharp and snappy remarks make Anna almost immediately dislike her. For example, when Anna suggests to Penelope that she will enjoy the sunsets better on Beacon Street, Penelope suggests that she will not because they are the same as the sunsets she enjoys in Nankeen Square. This tense conversation continues, extending to topics like Lily and Silas' health, until Anna abruptly gets up and suggests that they will meet again for "some—some other occasion" (168).
After Anna leaves, Irene returns home and asks her mother and sister how their call with Anna went. They state their belief that Anna came by specifically to put them down and make them feel inadequate with her manners. Penelope seems particularly damaged by the negative impression that she undoubtedly left on Anna Corey. Irene asks Persis why Penelope should care what impression she left on Anna. Persis replies that she does not know, but that she could clearly see how nervous Penelope was the entire time.
Back home, Anna suggests to Bromfield that Penelope is in love with Tom and that Persis knows this. Confused, Bromfield simply asks what Penelope was like. Anna replies that Penelope was disagreeable and "pert" (169). Anna then goes on to tell Bromfield that his idea of hosting a dinner for the Laphams will not work, though they cannot ignore Tom's closeness with the Lapham family unless Slias is thoroughly offensive. Bromfield says that Silas would be entertaining at an event. The two then think up a plan—to host a dinner with company, including both the Laphams and several beautiful young women, in order to "cur[e] Tom of his fancy" (170). Anna says such a dinner could not appear too private, or else this too would have the public appearance of being a negative secret. They waver back and forth on this plan, but Anna ultimately suggest that such a plan "wouldn't do" (171).
Chapter 13 opens with Anna Corey ultimately deciding to invite the Laphams to dinner at her home. She asks her daughters about the issue, and they agree that her outstanding debts to the Laphams (i.e., from the Canada encounter and her request for charity) serve as an adequate justification for an invitation. All the Corey women, however, are worried about how Tom will react at such a dinner. They feel in this instance like any newcomer to Boston society might, scared of insulting or impugning anyone for fear that it might harm someone close to them. A brief reflection is then offered by the narrator on this topic, who says that the closeness of Boston society and the ability of gossip to get around its close communities is one thing that offers the elite of Boston society consolation.
The Corey women then begin to think of a guest list for their upcoming dinner. They add Anna's brother, James Bellingham, to the list, along with the widow of her cousin Henry. They also add this widow's son, Charles; the Minister Sewell and his wife; and the poorer painter Robert Chase and the young Miss Kingsbury. When the Coreys realize that this gender ratio is off, however, they decide to invite the architect Mr. Seymour. When Tom comes home later that evening, Anna tells him of the plan, saying that she will cancel if Tom does not approve. After she tells him that it is to repay her debts to the Laphams and that to do anything less public might seem intentionally secretive, however, Tom assents. Just after Anna sends out the invitation, however, Tom asks her to cancel. Anna replies by saying that it would be indecorous to cancel and that they can try to make the Laphams have as good a time as possible. Meanwhile, she hopes to herself that Tom truly was doing nothing more than flirting with the Lapham girls.
The narrative point of view then shifts to Mrs. Lapham, who herself is thinking that Tom was doing no more than flirting with her girls. That evening, the invitation from Mrs. Corey arrives at the Lapham home, and the family wonders together what the invitation might mean in light of Mrs. Corey's tense and painful visit earlier that afternoon. When Persis tells Silas about the distaste Mrs. Corey likely has for them, Silas asks for tangible evidence and says that she would not have invited them for dinner if she really did not care for them. Still, Penelope refuses to attend the dinner on principle.
Following this initial murmur about the dinner, a large-scale fuss ensues, starting with a debate over how to even reply to the Corey's invitation. Once Persis gets this resolved and Silas sends the family's response in the mail, however, a discussion begins about what the family must do both at the dinner and in preparation for the dinner. Silas tells Persis that they can use the dinner as a learning experience for when they are expected to throw their own dinners, but Persis continues to express confusion and frustration about the whole affair, even down to the details of what she will wear. When Persis tells Silas that they are perhaps too old to learn to change their ways and behave like the Coreys do, they eventually come to a mutual agreement that it is worthwhile to attend in the hope that their daughters might still learn how to behave among others in high society.
Despite this, however, Silas goes through the week worried, both about all the preparations being made for the dinner and about Penelope's refusal to attend. Watching Persis and Irene fuss over their attire makes Silas wonder about his own clothing. Each individual detail becomes an object of internal scrutiny, from his dress coat, to his waistcoat, to his cravat, to whether he is even supposed to wear gloves. Even so, Silas refuses to ask Tom for even a bit of advice on what to wear, and he thinks up ways to subtly pick Tom's brain for advice, though he does not go through with it. Out of their general ignorance, the Laphams decide to search for and find books about elegant dinner parties. These books tell them, for example, that it is rude to refuse an invitation without telling a host at once; accordingly, Silas says that he will make Penelope attend the Coreys' dinner. They also buy many books looking for an answer about gentlemen's gloves, but find no answers, so Silas buys a pair of gloves just to be safe. Late in the game, Persis initially tells Silas that she should say home with Penelope, but Silas refuses. He accuses Persis of being the one who wanted to get in with the Coreys in the first place, and she eventually yields. She does, however, tell Silas not to embarrass the family in front of the Coreys.
The night of the dinner, Silas feels mixed emotions when seeing Irene in her new dress. He feels both shame for all the trouble they are going through on the Coreys' behalf, as well as pride and tenderness at his daughter's beauty and opportunity to advance in Boston's high society. Penelope, however, still refuses to attend. As the chapter closes, Penelope makes a rude remark about her family's vanity while they are on their way out. After they leave, however, she goes "upstairs with her lips firmly shutting in a sob," revealing her secret desire to attend the dinner after all.
If the preceding chapters might be said to develop the theme of marriage and explore its various incarnations among the Laphams, Coreys, and their children, Chapters 9–13 can be said to serve as the prelude to the dinner at the Coreys' home. Much like the previous chapters' probing of marriage, so too does the detailing of events leading up to dinner at the Coreys' allow Howells to explore a variety of social and cultural concerns. For example, one important concern that Howells' characters seem to perpetually keep in mind during these events—and one that readers ought to keep in mind to contextualize later events in the novel—is the question of who is supposed to take initiative or make the first step in a given situation. This is a question that obviously touches on the theme of decorum that runs throughout the novel, but it also extends to many other topics central to the story including courtship, business, social status, womanhood, and the distinction between a superficial public life and a deeper private life.
In the realm of courtship, for example, both Tom Corey and the Lapham women spend a great deal of time questioning just how active they are supposed to be in pushing a relationship between Tom and one of the Lapham daughters. Note that even before exploring this idea in detail, a deep irony is already apparent by this point in the novel. Namely, while the Lapham women (as well as Silas and Bromfield Corey) seem to at least superficially be advocating for Irene as Tom's marriage partner, Tom himself (as Anna Corey comes to realize from her visit in Chapter 12) is interested primarily in Penelope. Importantly, the assumptions and factors that undergird Tom's alleged interest in Irene over Penelope—most significantly, Irene's superior beauty—also tie in the notion of vanity or superficiality, which Penelope herself attacks explicitly at the conclusion of Chapter 13.
To speak more deeply on the topic, activity and passivity are contextualized specifically as part of a larger interrogation of Gilded Age courtship practices from the very beginning of Chapter 9. After Tom gifts the wood shaving to Irene, he speaks to Bromfield about the possibility of his meeting Silas, and one of the primary topics of this conversation is whether there is an "obligation" or "hurry" on the part of the Coreys to meet the Laphams in a formal setting (118-119). Knowing that there is perhaps something developing between Irene and Tom, Persis and Silas too have a discussion about when it might be right to meet with the Coreys in a family setting. When Silas argues that his work ethic and self-made status justify his desire to make an advance on the Coreys, Persis brings up the issue of social status and suggests that Silas has "got to let them make the advances" if he wants to "know them" (120). Just afterwards, when Irene and Penelope are speaking in private about the wood shaving, Irene asks "what shall I do?" In response, Penelope aptly comments on womanhood in Gilded Age America—while also subtly commenting on social status—by saying "well, 'Rene, you haven't got to do anything. That's one advantage girls have got—if it is an advantage. I'm not always sure" (122).
Very similar discussions, specifically regarding courtship, continue throughout these chapters, but the most notable recurrence of this idea comes at the end Chapter 12. In this moment, Bromfield and Anna conspire to discourage Tom's interest in a Lapham. Having floated the idea of assuming an active role in their relationship with the Laphams by inviting them to dinner, Bromfield and Anna plan out an even more active role in their son's love life, specifically by planning to invite "better bred" or prettier women to their dinner to draw Tom's attention (170-171). Though this plan ultimately is not realized, it sheds light on the intersectional nature of status, gender, and generational privilege during the Gilded Age. In other words, Tom is seen early on as the more empowered party, calling the shots in his courtship because he is a man and because his family is wealthier. However, as his own parents plot against him for his unsatisfactory interest in a Lapham daughter, it is revealed that even Tom—someone who is infinitely privileged from the Laphams' perspective—is subject to the callous and cruel whims of his old money parents. Note that the same cannot be said for Penelope, who successfully acts against her parents' will by refusing to attend the Coreys' party in Chapter 13. Thus, in these family dynamics alone, many clues are already provided that highlight how gender, class, and status empower certain individuals while disenfranchising others in the realm of romance.
While, much as in the previous chapters, this idea of romance and marriage hangs in the background of most interactions, there are still several interactions in Chapters 9–13 that are primarily defined and delimited by differences in class privilege or social status. Much of how Silas interacts with Tom, for example, is based on his desire to not let him know how honored he is to be in his company or how self-satisfied he is at being able to talk to people like Bromfield. As Chapter 9 opens, for example, Silas details an evolution in his thought—from holding things like Tom's Harvard education and lineage against him to thinking that it is even more to Tom's credit that he is, after all, a hard worker. Notably, however, even though doing so is an attempt to downplay the importance of Tom's privileges in his mind, he is in fact giving him more credit than he would if Tom were just any ordinary worker. Silas' later hesitance to show excitement after Bromfield's visit in Chapter 11, as well as his refusal to ask Tom about gloves or any other dinner formalities in Chapter 13, are just further proof that though he tries to convince himself that there are no differences between he and the Coreys, a difference is still urgently felt.
Irene and Tom's conversations, too, are marked by sharp differences in class and educational privilege. In Chapter 9, Irene's failure to substantively discuss the allusions and authors that Tom brings up reflects a status gap between them that will serve to preclude any possibility of a relationship between them (since it is Penelope's wit and intellect that interests Tom). Additionally, her blind acceptance of Tom's suggestions to fill her future library reflects a willingness to allow those of higher status and class to continually shape and determine what knowledge or education is valuable. It is this same perceived value in wealthy practices, for example, that drives Persis and Irene to purchase extravagant evening gowns in Chapter 13 and that correspondingly stresses Silas out about his own dress. Moreover, it is this perceived value in the bourgeois pleasure of literature that makes Bromfield denounce those who do not read just a few moments after Irene's encounter with Tom.
Finally, one other consideration to keep in mind in reading these chapters is the sharp divide between superficial, public life that accords with decorum and a hidden inner life that often has more sinister dynamics at play. One such example is the consistent concern on Persis' behalf that Silas' welcoming of Tom into his business is merely a front to ingratiate the Laphams with Tom's family. In Chapter 13, another example of this concern appears when Anna, Nanny, and Lily think through the public implications of both a more private dinner and a dinner with certain guests. In the case of the former, they consider that such a dinner might look like the Coreys are trying to hide something, and they scrutinize the guest list of the latter regarding matters like the gender ratio of the guests, hobbies of the guests, and guests who are likely to establish common ground between themselves and the Laphams. Relatedly, much as this concern about the public/private divide did before these chapters, it continues here to involve the important symbol of paint as well as the symbol of the newspaper. The newspaper in particular takes on added significance related to class and status-based knowledge in these chapters—for example, when Bromfield tells Silas that he does not read the Events and only reads The Daily Advertiser (143).