Washington Square


Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Washington Square.”The New York Public Library Digital Collections. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e1-06ea-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Wharton talks about Washington Square both at the beginning and the end of the novella, to describe the whereabouts of Lizzie’s cousin Mrs. Winter. Mrs. Winter’s was only spoken about for two reasons, one was to give Lizzie an excuse for being out of the house on New Year’s day and the other was to afford Lizzie the status she once had before Charles took ill. Washington Square is a monumental location in New York City, it is located at end of Fifth Avenue and is known for its large fountain centered in the park for all residents and tourists. It is also known for its arch, the arch was built to celebrate George Washington’s inauguration as President of the United States. The Square was a place all were welcome, especially around the holiday season.

Wharton’s use of this location shows us the high-class status Lizzie’s family came from, also the use of a great excuse from Lizzie to Charles. By Lizzie using Mrs. Winter’s house as a scapegoat, it gave Lizzie reasons for being around the Fifth Avenue hotel the day it caught fire. Charles would not think anything of it for Lizzie to be in the area as Mrs. Winter lived so close to the hotel. Wharton states, “Naturally I was! On my way home from Cousin Cecilia’s… Ah, of course. I’d forgotten you were going there. But how odd, then, that we didn’t meet! (254)”, Charles felt that it was odd that he and Lizzie’s paths did not cross that day, however, for Lizzie she was relieved they didn’t. Charles stated that their maid betrayed him by telling Lizzie that he was out, but the fact is, his betrayal came from Lizzie.

Although Mrs. Winter was not mentioned throughout the novella, her character had a great impact on Lizzie’s life. Mrs. Winter leaving Lizzie money after her death afforded Lizzie’s lifestyle, otherwise, her life would not have been as fortunate.


Wharton, Edith. “New Year’s Day”. Old New York. New York: Simon&Schuster, 1924. pages # 251-308.Print