26 pages 52 minutes read

Edith Wharton

The Other Two

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1904

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Character Analysis

Mr. Waythorn

Mr. Waythorn is a wealthy New York stockbroker, newly married to Alice Waythorn. As the story opens, Waythorn expresses great satisfaction in his choice of wife, gloating over being in “possessorship” (Part 2) of her. He delights in her beauty, her charm, and her ability to handle any circumstance with calm, while always being available and attentive to his needs. He feels most comfortable and in control when he is in his own home, being able to control to the domestic space.

Despite his power, wealth, and good fortune in choosing his bride, his name “Waythorn” (the reader never learns his first name) is appropriate, since his “way” is comically marked by “thorns.” The entire story is told from Mr. Waythorn’s point of view, and much of the humor and irony of the story comes from his growing awareness of the absurdity he finds himself in as he keeps running into “the other two”—his wife’s two ex-husbands. He soon realizes that he is not as in control as he thinks, although he is obsessed with acting as if he is in complete control. He wants to present himself as powerful and completely respectable in society’s eyes.