Although she notices that Roman fever has changed over the years, and the girls are no longer in danger of catching malaria, she does not notice that her account of Babs and Jenny -- as rivals for the same man -- dooms her to a repetition of her own history.” (687) 9. Hence, in their discussion, they let loose with what Wharton herself calls ‘violence.’ Although Alida realizes somehow that her aggression is misdirected, she is powerless to control it.” (687) 10.
If women as signs represent American culture, then Grace Ansley’s gesture can only mean that this character rejects the domestic harmony and opts, instead, for the scene of destruction, the scene of confrontation with the other (Alida Slade) who represents the repressions of patriarchal culture that has infected them (like the fever itself).
Both are wrong about the order of things, and Wharton uncovers a profound emptiness at the heart of history since chance seems to rule.” (685-86) 7.
“The surprise of the story demonstrates how hopelessly enmeshed they are in the fictions about women’s place, the fictions their mothers told, for instance the one that Great Aunt Harriet enacted when she arranged for the death of her sister, her rival.” (687) 8. Slade still continues to think of marriage in terms of social hierarchy, just as she had thought about her own marriage to Delphin as the mark of social superiority over her rival. Ansley can keep herself in check any longer after twenty-five years of silence.
Bauer’s article references many other authors to support his claims and assertions.
His arguments are well written, informative and prove to illuminate the many dimensions and layers of symbolism that occur below the surface of Wharton’s “Roman Fever.” 1. Her ‘Roman Fever’ questions origins, persecution, and sexual violence -- Rome itself being a powerful site of primal violence.
Photograph by American photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston. With all of these details, it is apparently reasonable to conclude that they are close friends.
But, in fact, is their close friendship a real close one? Ansley twenty five years ago that revealed their true face, true nature as well as marked the collapse in the so-called 'close friendship' of these two main characters.
In the second instance, the story is used as a vehicle for Grace’s aggression against her rival, Alida.
In the third instance, the story is re-appropriated by Alida in order to thwart -- if not kill -- her rival.