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Lily Briscoe, who struggles to be an artist when women are expected only to be wives and mothers like Mrs. Ramsey.
Mrs. Ramsey, the model of the older generation's values of the woman's place in patriarchy.
Lily recognizes at Mrs. Ramsey's dinner party that she will be an artist only and will never marry.
The story ends in comedy for Lily. After Mrs. Ramsey's death, Lily returns to the vacation home of the Ramseys and completes her painting of Mrs. Ramsey.