English IV AP
18 September 2012
No Last Laugh for Slade
“Roman Fever” is introduced with two distant women, Grace Ansley and Alida Slade, enjoying a meal at a Roman restaurant, overlooking the marvelous views of Rome and the ancient ruins. The author Edith Wharton easily describes the women as tiny or pale, while painting colorful images of the landscape surrounding them. The women’s young daughters are further down, playing upon a stairway. Both women are widows, their husbands having died only months apart. The meeting seems to be going swimmingly, until the narrator notes that Grace feels sorry for Alida, remarking Alida has had a miserable life with many mistakes. Grace’s ongoing distance begins to irritate Alida, who is also exhibiting signs of anger and jealousy. Alida’s jealousy driven actions continue to set the stage for this story as jealousy continues to prove itself as a driving force.
The primary conflict in this tale is one of a vicious jealousy and greed. As stated before Grace remarked Alida has had a miserable life choosing instead to watch Grace’s. Throughout the story readers can conclude Alida’s miserable life can be attributed to her overwhelming insecurities in her marriage and blind jealousy of Grace. The center of the conflict revolves around Alida’s relationship with Delphin Slade. As Alida is forever jealous of Grace, she lords over Delphin as the only aspect of her life in which she bested Grace by constantly bringing him up and never moving away from Grace. In the conversation Alida reveals that she had written a letter asking Grace to meet her at the ruin when they were younger, under the guise of Delphin Slade, only to embarrass her friend. Grace is instantly stricken, exclaiming it was the only letter she had from Alida’s late husband. However as Grace prepares to leave, she announces that Delphin and she had a fling, due to Grace’s response to the letter. Alida comes back announcing she came out better in the long run saying, “I had him for twenty five years.” Grace replies mysteriously, hinting that her daughter could be Delphin’s daughter. Essentially Alida acted out of insecurity, which in the end drove Grace and her husband together. When Alida brings up the letter out of jealousy she…