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: One of the themes central to The Age of Innocence is the struggle between the individual and the group. Newland Archer has been raised into a world where manners and moral codes dictate how the individual will act, and in some cases, even think. At many points throughout the book, both Archer and Ellen Olenska are expected to sacrifice their desires and opinions in order not to upset the established order of things. In The Age of Innocence, this established order most often takes its most concrete form as the family. One of the individual's foremost duties is to promote and protect the solidarity of his tightly knit group of blood and marital relationships. In the second chapter of the book, Archer is expected, despite his initial unwillingness to associate with the scandal-garnering Countess Olenska, to enter the Mingott family's opera box in order to support their decision to bring the Countess out in public. Later in the novel, when Ellen wishes to reclaim her freedom by divorcing her philandering husband, she is discouraged from this action because the family fears unpleasant gossip. And of course, Ellen and Archer's decision not to consummate their love is based largely on their fear of hurting the family.