The protagonist of the novel, nicknamed Birdy, is approaching marriageable age at 14, and she is not interested in serving traditional feminine roles.
As soon as she was of marriageable age (probably about A.D.
Divorces are granted for adultery, desertion for three years) habitual drunkenness, impotence at the time of marriage, fraud, lack of marriageable age (eighteen for males, sixteen for females), and failure of husband to provide for his wife during three consecutive years.
The marriage rates in quinquennial periods up to 1905 were 19.6, 18.6, 21.0, 19.8, 15.6, 18.6, 18.6, 18.6, 17.4 and 17.4; the ratio of marriages to the marriageable population was for males (above 16 years) 61.5, for females (above 14) 46.0; the fecundity of marriages seemed to have increased, being about twice as high for foreigners as for natives.
Next to the proportion of the married to the total marriageable the most important factor connected with the natural increase of the population is the age at which marriage takes place.