The American By Henry James Summary and Analysis Chapter XIII

Summary

During the next six weeks, he went often to see Madame de Cintré. Their acquaintance deepened and Newman could see signs of her attachment to him. Once with Mrs. Tristram, he commented on Madame de Bellegarde. He wondered if after all she had not sometime "murdered someone — all from a sense of duty, of course." But as wicked as the old lady seems to Newman, the marquis seems even worse.

One afternoon when he was calling on Madame de Cintré, he met an old English woman whom he later found out was Mrs. Bread. She pleads her old age and requests to be quite frank with him. She wants him to marry Madame de Cintré very quickly and go away to America. She implies that she knows things and that her information is worth something. Newman takes an immediate liking to her.

When Madame de Cintré enters, they discuss Mrs. Bread only a minute and then Madame de Cintré asks Newman about Valentin. She does not like the way Newman speaks of Valentin: She thinks it is with the kind of kindness that one shows to a child. Newman, however, protests that he likes Valentin too much to evaluate his feelings for the young man. Madame de Cintré closes the subject by telling of her foreboding that something is going to happen to her brother.

At their next meeting, Madame de Cintré asks Newman why he does not like her mother and brother. He explains that what is more important is that they do not like him, but he is not concerned as long as Madame de Cintré does.

While they are talking, the marquis enters, looking very exhilarated. He has with him a distant cousin from England, Lord Deepmere, who is a rather funny looking little fellow with a bald head, no front teeth and several pimples on his chin. It is apparent that the Marquis de Bellegarde is delighted with this cousin who has an immense amount of property.

Analysis

There is much use of irony and foreshadowing in this chapter. Newman's evaluation of Madame de Bellegarde is merely tossed off, but we later find out that she virtually did murder her husband: Mrs. Bread's suggestion that she has information worth something means only that she knows about this murder.

As her name suggests, Mrs. Bread will actually be seen to be the salt (or bread) of the earth. She is a very plain but honest woman who wants to do the right thing.

Madame de Cintré's fear that something dreadful is going to happen to Valentin will also soon come true.

This chapter presents our first view of Lord Deepmere. Ironically the name suggests a deep sea or a deep person, but in actuality, Lord Deepmere borders on being somewhat of a simpleton. The reader should note the physical description. Physically, Lord Deepmere must look dreadful with his bald head, missing teeth, and pimples, but he possesses one great attribute that Newman does not have — he has a title making him a member of the nobility. Immediately, the Marquis de Bellegarde begins to regard him as a suitable husband for Madame de Cintré, and is delighted with his cousin even though we know Lord Deepmere has nothing to recommend himself except his title and his immense property.

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At the ball, who tries to point out some things to Newman, when he fails to realize them on his own?




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