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Old 02-02-2008, 10:57 PM   #1
Patricia
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Wharton, Edith: The Fruit of the Tree, v.1, 3 Feb 2008.

A long novel, first published in 1907.
With illustrations by Alonzo Kimball.

‘Man can commit no act alone, whether for good or evil.’

As we see Wharton’s three main characters undergo conflicts between love and duty, we gradually come to realise that everything is connected. Bessy, the textile mill-owner doesn’t understand that her luxurious lifestyle is parasitic on the factory workers. Amherst understands this. But he fails to convince Bessy, whom he loves. Can he live a life of compromised principles? Finally, Justine, the nurse at the moral centre of the novel finds herself with an impossible dilemma in nursing ethics. Her decision will impact on all those around her.

From Donna Campbell’s summary on Wharton Society website:
http://www.wsu.edu/~campbelld/wharton/disc/id32.htm
The Fruit of the Tree is one of Edith Wharton's few novels to deal directly with issues such as euthanasia, the problems of labor and industrial conditions, and professions for women, as well as Wharton's more customary themes such as divorce. Published in 1907, it received positive but mixed reviews, and more recently critics have attempted to explain its uneven structure, which combines an industrial plot (Amherst's attempts to reform the mills), an ethical plot (the question of euthanasia) and the more conventional romance plot (Justine, Bessy, and Amherst).’
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