Bunner Sisters Summary

  • Last updated on June 24, 2023
Title: Bunner Sisters by Edith Wharton

Author: Edith Wharton
Publish Date: 1916
Genre: Fiction (Novella)
Page Length: Approximately 100 pages


Infobox (to be placed at the beginning):

Author: Edith Wharton
Title: Bunner Sisters
Publish Date: 1916
Genre: Fiction (Novella)
Page Length: Approximately 100 pages


Bunner Sisters, written by Edith Wharton and published in 1916, is a poignant novella that tells the story of two unmarried sisters, Ann Eliza and Evelina Bunner, living in New York City during the late 19th century. The novella explores themes of loneliness, sacrifice, and missed opportunities.

Chapter 1:

The narrative starts by introducing the Bunner sisters, who reside in a small, run-down shop that sells artificial flowers. Ann Eliza, the elder sister, is the responsible and diligent one, while Evelina is more fragile, sensitive, and devout. Their everyday lives consist of monotonous routines and limited social interactions.

Chapter 2:

One evening, Mr. Ramy, a regular customer at the shop, notices a cheap clock in their window. This clock catches his attention, reminding him of a clock he used to own. Intrigued, he decides to purchase it, an act that marks the beginning of his recurring visits to the Bunner sisters' shop.

Chapter 3:

As Mr. Ramy persists in visiting the shop, Ann Eliza gradually develops a connection with him. Meanwhile, Evelina dreams of a more fulfilling life outside their modest shop. Mr. Ramy, a solitary and withdrawn man, becomes enamored with Ann Eliza, who reciprocates his feelings.

Chapter 4:

Despite Mr. Ramy's growing affection, the relationship between him and Ann Eliza remains platonic due to their modest circumstances. Ann Eliza's fear of losing the security of the familiar prevents her from taking risks or pursuing her own happiness.

Chapter 5:

As the Christmas season approaches, Ann Eliza unexpectedly receives money as a gift from an anonymous source. Considered a stroke of good fortune by the sisters, they use this money to treat themselves to a rare luxury: attending the theater. Evelina, overwhelmed by the experience, becomes infatuated with a character from the play.

Chapter 6:

Evelina's infatuation with the actor intensifies, leading her to write him a letter expressing her love for him. Hoping for a response, she waits eagerly each day, but no reply comes. The lack of response shatters her dreams, leaving her devastated and emotionally vulnerable.

Chapter 7:

Ann Eliza, witnessing her sister's heartbreak, decides to take matters into her own hands. She writes a letter to the actor, pretending to be Evelina, and asks him to meet her at the shop. The actor never shows up, and the deception leaves both sisters disheartened.

Chapter 8:

With the failure of the letter plan, the Bunner sisters face a profound crisis. Realizing that their lives are fading away without any substantial change or happiness, Ann Eliza contemplates an act that will alter their future forever.

Chapter 9:

In a moment of despair and desperation, Ann Eliza poisons herself and her sister, ending their lives in the shop. Their deaths occur just as Mr. Ramy, who had finally mustered the courage to declare his love, arrives at the shop, only to find the devastating aftermath.


Bunner Sisters encapsulates the suffocating effects of societal constraints and missed opportunities. Edith Wharton masterfully explores the themes of loneliness, sacrifice, and the human desire for connection. Through the Bunner sisters' tragedy, Wharton reminds readers of the importance of embracing the possibilities life offers and acknowledging the potential consequences of inaction. Bunner Sisters serves as a sobering reminder to seize opportunities and challenge the boundaries that limit one's happiness.

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