STORIES that have an Objective Story Concern of The Past:
The Age of Innocence: Most of the characters are concerned with the past: Mrs. Mingott, May’s mother, Mrs. Archer, and Sillerton Jackson all want to keep their world just like it always has been in the past. Ellen’s past, especially leaving her husband aided by a male secretary, threatens to tarnish her and all of those associated with her. As Newland Archer comes to know Ellen better, he tries to protect her from rumors about her past by advising her not to divorce her husband, and by trying to keep his feelings for her hidden from his family. When Newland asks May Welland to move up the announcement of their engagement, she resists changing past decisions:
MAY: … But why should we change what is already settled?
When Newland wants to advance the date of their wedding, May insists on doing what everyone else has done before them:
MAY: But the Chivers were engaged for a year and a half. And Larry Lefferts and Gertrude were engaged for two. I’m sure Mama expects something customary.
Chinatown: Noah Cross, Hollis and Evelyn Mulwray, and the mysterious young girl are all connected by the scandalous, incestuous past; Jake Gittes and the police have a long past together; Jake had past interactions with Chinatown as a detective; etc.
The Piano Lesson: Most of the characters are concerned with the past: Berniece is obsessed with the piano’s tragic history and her husband’s death. Avery wants Berniece to let go of the past by marrying him and playing the piano at church services. Lymon worries that if he returns to Mississippi, he’ll end up in the work farm just like in the past. Wining Boy is unhappy with his past life as a piano player because people only wanted to know him for his music. Boy Willie wants to break out of the tradition of sharecropping like his father.
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