"Mary was too well-versed in the code of the spectral world not to know that one could not talk about the ghosts one saw: to do so was almost as great a breach of good-breeding as to name a lady in a club...."
See in text (I)
Here Wharton introduces a theme of society and class relating to associated expectations and rules of appropriateness. This theme is rendered in a comical fashion here, as Mary is described as “well-versed in the code of the spectral world.” Comparing speaking of a ghost to naming of a “lady in a club” associates an otherworldly phenomenon with a social faux pas. Consequently, the association of a supernatural force with something so mundane as the politeness of social class produces a rather farcical effect.
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"Now, for the first time, it startled her a little to find how little she knew of the material foundation on which her happiness was built...."
See in text (II)
Mary’s realization—that she knows very little about what Ned does each day—affects her negatively for the very first time. As a woman, it was conventional at the time that Mary’s role be one of support rather than inquisitive action.
"she felt almost like the furniture of the room in which she sat, an insensate object to be dusted and pushed about with the chairs and tables...."
See in text (IV)
The adjective “insensate” means lacking in awareness, feeling, or understanding. Mary feels as though she has become part of the house: she exists simply for decoration, not for any greater purpose. Her husband’s disappearance has numbed her to old feelings of terror as she becomes more accustomed to the ever-present feeling of dread.
"“I don’t say it wasn’t straight, and yet I don’t say it was straight. It was business.”..."
See in text (V)
In the business world, the rules of morality and honor don’t apply in the same way they would in other situations. Parvis does not condemn Ned’s actions, only Elwell’s unintelligence and generosity. Wharton seems to be highlighting the unscrupulous nature of unregulated business, suggesting that greed will overwhelm generosity time and time again.