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The protagonist of the novel is Fancy Day, a pretty, intelligent, charming, and vivacious young woman, who is fundamentally sensible, loving, and affectionate. Though she is a country girl of relatively humble parentage, her education and upbringing have made her into a sophisticated lady, who is always the center of attraction at any party. Although she dreams of elegant places, her heart is really given to country ways, as seen at her wedding when she marries Dick Dewy.
Fancy's main problem, or antagonist, in the novel is growing up to make a rational decision about choosing a husband. Because she is lovely, intelligent, and flirtatious, all the young bachelors are attracted to her. Since she has a tendency to succumb to flattery and luxuries, she finds herself infatuated with men who offer her these things, like Shiner and Maybold. Her relationships with them, however, create unwanted complications in her personal life. Self-knowledge and self-control are gradually acquired by this vain and vacillating, but fundamentally sensible and loving, young lady. As a result, she realizes that Dick Dewy is the best husband for her.
The climax of the plot is reached after Fancy accepts proposals from two men. Though she has been engaged to Dick for sometime, the couple has kept it a secret. Therefore, Vicar Maybold also proposes to her. Flattered by his attention, she indicates to him that she will accept. Left with a problem to solve, Fancy comes to her senses and realizes that the down-to-earth and honest Dick is the best choice for a husband. She writes the vicar a note of explanation, turning down his proposal, and begs him to keep the whole affair a secret. When she makes this final decision to marry Dick, the climax is reached.
The story ends as a comedy. Fancy matures enough to make the right choice for a husband, Dick Dewy. After their wedding, the happy couple drives off into the brilliant moonlight.