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Originally published in 1903, Sanctuary is an early and short novella that examines the moral choices facing Kate Orme when faced firstly with uncomfortable revelations about her fiancé Denis and years later when their son, Dick, is forced to deal with similar circumstances. How Kate reacts to both situations forms the basis of Wharton's character examination, specifically in the choice she makes in the first part – to marry Denis in the hope that he can find a sense of redemption – and subsequently in the heartache she feel when her son seems to be going through similar troubles. In Sanctuary, Wharton presents a clash between notions of realism and modernism. The essence of the novella is the character study of Kate Orme, yet the methods she uses to underscore this examination move the plot away from any sense of realism. Would any sane woman decide to marry a man with such flaws and did Wharton decide on that choice merely so she might bring the character into another conflict in the second part?