This essay explores the implications of Edith Wharton's previously unknown alternative title for The Children. The holograph manuscript reveals that she considered titling this novel The Family. In light of this information and using investigations in queer studies that challenge normative assumptions about relationships, caretaking, and human psychological growth, this essay argues that the novel interrogates its society's reliance on and reproduction of inherited structures of family, gender, and age categories. Through Judith Wheater, The Children offers a queer vision, in which children form their own familial unit that retains the pleasures of childhood, claims the benefits of adulthood, and rejects the impermanence and perils of heteronormative coupling. Despite the failure of this vision, Wharton renders queerness in its interrogatory and resisting form, exposing the almost invisible ways in which society orders itself through constructions of age, gender, and relationships and positing the possibility of alternative structures.

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