Summary and Analysis Book 5: Chapter I



One week later, Strether goes with Chad to a party at the home of Gloriani, a famous sculptor, in order to meet Madame de Vionnet and her daughter, who will also be there. The home and garden impress Strether very strongly, and he feels under a formidable "assault of images." Gloriani, too, makes a deep impression on him; the sculptor's eyes seem to Strether "the source of the deepest intellectual sounding to which he had ever been exposed." It is in this atmosphere and among people "tremendously alien, alien to Woollett" that Strether asks Bilham if Madame de Vionnet and her daughter are "the virtuous attachment." Bilham acknowledges this and tells Strether that Madame de Vionnet's husband is not dead. Strether assumes, then, that it is the daughter whom Chad loves.

Miss Barrace comes up to join the conversation, and they speak further about Madame de Vionnet and Paris. Chad then returns to take Strether to Madame de Vionnet.


The atmosphere at Gloriani's gathering — the house, garden, and guests — serves to prepare and condition Strether (and the reader) for what will come in the next chapter: the meeting between Strether and Madame de Vionnet and, more important at this juncture, Strether's speech to Bilham. In this connection, notice how carefully James creates the impressions that make up this atmosphere; examine in particular the third paragraph of the chapter.

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