The Ambassadors By Henry James Summary and Analysis Book 7: Chapter II

Summary

Three days later, Strether receives a telegram from Mrs. Newsome. He reads it carefully and at some length, then crumples it up in his fist "as if to get it out of the way." Waymarsh arrives and watches Strether unfold the paper, smooth it out on the table, and put it in his pocket. As the two eat dinner, Strether says nothing about it, "closing the door to confidence" on Waymarsh. After dinner, Strether composes a long letter in reply to the message, but after a late walk, he returns to his room at one o'clock in the morning only to tear up the pages he has written.

In the morning, Chad arrives to see Strether and notices the telegram open on the windowsill. "It has come then at last?" he asks, and then tells Strether that he is ready to go back to Woollett with him right away. Strether, however, is reluctant. He tells Chad that Mrs. Newsome has given him an ultimatum: "If I can't bring you I'm to leave you; I'm to come at any rate myself." Chad responds that he is ready to return; Strether, however, confesses that he himself is not. "You don't want to go back to Mother?" Chad asks. Strether says he does not feel ready. "You feel," Chad asks knowingly, "the charm of life over here?" Strether faces it: "Immensely." But, as Strether tells Chad, he will not stay unless Chad stays also, and if he, Strether, does not return immediately, Mrs. Newsome has announced that the Pococks — Sarah, Jim, and Mamie — will come to Europe. Chad tells him that if Mrs. Newsome sends the Pococks, it will mean that she doesn't trust Strether. Strether acknowledges this by saying, "You see then all the more what you owe me?" and when Chad asks how he can repay him, he pleads, "By not deserting me. By standing by me." Chad tacitly pledges to do so.

Analysis

Again, James' technique in this chapter is to delay revealing the import of the central matter (the telegram) so that his characters may first respond and comment on it.

Ironically, Strether, who had come to Europe to deliver Mrs. Newsome's ultimatum to Chad, now finds himself on the receiving end of Mrs. Newsome's demands.

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