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What does “it won’t buy one into the exclusive circles of society.” mean?

“For one thing,” answered Richard, rankling a little, “it won’t buy one into the exclusive circles of society.” “Oho! won’t it?” thundered the champion of the root of evil. “You tell me where your exclusive circles would be if the first Astor hadn’t had the money to pay for his steerage passage over?”

Mammon and the Archer by O. Henry

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The referent for "it" is "money", so "Money won't buy one into the exclusive circles of society."
The speaker is claiming that even if you get a lot of money, some people who have had money in their families for a long time won't accept you as one of them.

You have also put "steerage passage over" in bold. That means the cheapest accommodations on a passenger ship. "Over" means "across the ocean".

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  • Thanks, but then what is meaning of all sentence “You tell me where your exclusive circles would be if the first Astor hadn’t had the money to pay for his steerage passage over?” ?
    – Vitaly
    Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 14:27
  • The first speaker in that passage thinks there are limits on the power of money, to wit, it won't buy you entry into high society. The advocate for the power of money answers that high society wouldn't even exist without the money to immigrate to the new world and establish itself. Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 17:14

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