Playwright Phyllis Nagy, who met Highsmith in 1987 and developed a friendship with her that lasted for the remainder of Highsmith's life, said that Therese was Highsmith's "alter ego" and "the voice of an author." Highsmith placed Therese in the world of the New York theater with friends who are "vaguely bohemian, artists or would-be artists" and signaled their intellectual aspirations by noting they read James Joyce and Gertrude Stein, the latter unmistakably lesbian.
All are struggling to find a place for themselves in the world.
On an impulse, Therese sends Carol a Christmas card. Richard accuses Therese of having a "schoolgirl crush", but Therese knows it is more than that: She is in love with Carol.
Carol, who is going through a difficult separation and divorce and is herself quite lonely, unexpectedly responds. Carol's husband, Harge, is suspicious of Carol's relationship with Therese, whom he meets briefly when Therese stays over at Carol's house in New Jersey.
She pays him a high price for some tapes even though he warns her that he has already sent several tapes and other evidence to Harge in New York.It was a routine transaction, the woman paid and departed.But I felt odd and swimmy in the head, near to fainting, yet at the same time uplifted, as if I had seen a vision.Though Highsmith had many sexual and romantic relationships with women and wrote over 22 novels and numerous short stories, The Price of Salt is her only novel about an unequivocal lesbian relationship and its relatively happy ending was unprecedented in lesbian literature.It is also notable for being the only one of her novels with not only "a conventional 'happy ending Therese Belivet is a lonely young woman, just beginning her adult life in Manhattan and looking for her chance to launch her career as a theatre set designer.