Wharton plays with this convention: she has Pauline congratulate herself on her tolerance in courting the attentions of the Cardinal and her generous support to the Catholic Amalasuntha, but this facade of open-mindedness does not need to be scratched very deeply before 'the old Puritan terror of gliding priests and incense and idolatry rise to the surface' (p.
This tension is exemplified again by the contrast between the casual frequency with which divorce takes place in New York and Amalasuntha's (admittedly Machiavellian) Catholic and Italian refusal to contemplate divorce at all.
After all, poor Amalasuntha has good American blood in her [...] but what is [she] to do, in a country where there's no divorce, and a woman just has to put up with everything?
Yet Connor never mentions Procopius's blaming Theodora for the murder of the Ostrogoth queen Amalasuntha
, whom he praises for her extraordinary strength (Secret History 16.1-6).
Like "exhausted" Italian aristocrats (including Amalasuntha, a Wyant relation), Arthur is born without the ability to "manage his own poor little concerns with any sort of common sense or consistency" (32).
Manford's negative invocation of jazz here includes the white gatekeeper (Ardwin), Italians (Amalasuntha's son Michelangelo, like Lira, is an aspiring film star), Jews like the filmmaker Klawhammer, and African American musicians like Jossie Keiler, all of whom, the family believe, are invested in luring Lita away from Jim.
His own career, Pauline's multiple activities, the problem of poor Arthur Wyant, Nona, Jim, Lita Wyant, the Mahatma, the tiresome Grant Lindons, the perennial and inevitable Amalasuntha
, for whom the house was being illuminated tonight--all were strands woven into the very pile of carpet he trod on his way up the stairs.