The Ambassadors By Henry James Summary and Analysis Book 4: Chapter I

Summary

Forgoing polite preliminaries, Strether comes straight to the point with Chad: "I've come . . . to make you break with everything . . . and take you straight home." Strether is uneasy and concerned because Chad "had been made over. That was all; whatever it was it was everything . . . it was perhaps a specialty of Paris." Strether speaks of Mrs. Newsome's wishes and includes himself by saying, "we want you to break." Chad is aware that Strether is engaged to his mother and views Strether's mission as "bringing me home in triumph as a sort of wedding-present to Mother." Strether continues to be impressed with Chad's changed appearance and manner: His features seem drawn with a cleaner line, his voice toned, his demeanor polished; it was as if Chad had been "put into a firm mould and turned successfully out." His face is "that of a man of the world . . . that of a man to whom things had happened and were variously known."

Strether asks Chad about the woman whom he presumes has been keeping Chad from returning to Woollett. Chad replies that it has little to do with the question of his going home and that he has never been "entangled" in that way: "Do you think one's kept only by women? . . . Is that . . . what they think at Woollett? . . . I must say then you show a low mind!"

Analysis

When Chad tells Strether that it is not a woman who keeps him in France, Strether wonders what else could be the reason; Chad asks him, "Don't you know how I like Paris itself?" to which Strether responds, "Oh if that's all that's the matter with you — !" This touches upon another important theme of the novel, for Chad's rejoinder — "But isn't that enough?" — points up the essential disparity at this point between the attitudes of Strether and Chad, and, by implication, the worlds of Woollett and Paris. The reader should begin now to ask what there is about Paris that makes it the antithesis to Woollett, what is symbolized by Paris that Strether will come to feel himself to have missed in his own life, and finally, to what extent Woollett and Paris can be taken to represent America and Europe, the juxtaposition of the New World and Old.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

At the end, Strether decides to




Quiz