The American By Henry James Summary and Analysis Chapter XXV

Summary

Newman calls upon the Grand Duchess and for a long time they talk about all sorts of impersonal things. He never has a chance to talk about the Bellegardes. Then an Italian prince is announced. She tells Newman not to leave because the prince might be a bore, but the prince turns out to have a lively and spirited conversation with the Duchess, and Newman is able to reflect that he has nothing in common with these people and since he cannot sympathize with them, it would be foolish to expect them to sympathize with him. He bids the Duchess goodbye. Out in the streets, he realizes that to discuss the Bellegardes with anyone would be extremely disagreeable.

Later he dines with the Tristrams, and Mrs. Tristram discusses Madame de Cintré with him. She wonders if Newman could have been really happy, but Newman wanted the chance to try. Mrs. Tristram tells him that he needs to travel to forget it all. He agrees and packs up.

His first stop was London. Here after some days he meets, unexpectedly, with Mademoiselle Noémie whom he had avoided. Then he happened to sit down on the bench next to M. Nioche. It was fifteen minutes before Newman was aware it was the old man. M. Nioche said he didn't speak because he was ashamed. Mademoiselle Noémie returned on the arm of Lord Deepmere who had met her through Valentin. Lord Deepmere was somewhat embarrassed to be seen in her company especially since she was the indirect cause of Valentin's death. Newman was thoroughly disgusted and left immediately.

For the first time since his betrayal, we are beginning to see the real Christopher Newman. Here also is the beginning of his renunciation. At the duchess', he begins to realize that revenge for the sake of revenge is not very rewarding. Furthermore, he realizes that the aristocracy has formed a bond from which he is definitely excluded. Before he is able to reveal his true intent, the prince arrives. The prince's visit gives Newman a chance to think things over, and also allows him to see the strong unity between the aristocracy. He sees the aristocracy as cold and superficial. It is an artificial world built of polite conversation which carries very little intellectual stimulation. He realizes that even if the Duchess would turn against the Bellegardes, this would not help his sense of despair. And finally, he is beginning to realize that unless he could regain Madame de Cintré, no revenge has any meaning for him.

In London he meets Mademoiselle Noémie and Lord Deepmere. Here, then, is the man the Marquis de Bellegarde preferred to Newman, and this man is associating with the prostitute who caused Valentin's death. This is James' closing comment on the nature and honor of the European aristocracy. Newman himself is innately disgusted with the woman and with anyone who would condescend to associate with her. Thus Newman has learned a great deal since the time when he first encountered her in the Louvre.

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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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