In 1915, debate raged about whether the Royal meeting should take place, and Colonel Henry Knollys knew the answer: "Is it unreasonable to hope that in 1915 the upper classes of men and women will forbear from assembling in their tens of thousands, say, at Ascot, peacocking in their plumes and prattling their puerilities
, eating plentifully and drinking still more so, semi-intoxicated with the splendour and spangle of the gaudy scene .
Elinor recounts her resistance to "the tyrant false pride," "the puerilities
of education," and "the monster custom"--which she has, in turn, "conquered," "mocked," and "defeated"--as marks of honor setting her apart from typical women of her day, but this litany of radical accomplishments is undercut by her utter slavishness to her own unrequited passion for Harleigh (189).
This effort leaves it revealed as precisely what it was: a mass of puerilities
, without any more rational basis than golf or spiritualism.
How bracing for us today, beset with simplistic puerilities
about American and European civilization, is the adult and comprehensive wisdom of Cather, who, while never idealizing, keeps before our eyes the human achievement--and its religious dimension.