Summary and Analysis
Book 6: Chapter II
Ten days later, Strether finds himself at Chad's home in order to speak to Jeanne de Vionnet at Chad's request. Strether is unsure of the purpose of this talk, and he wonders what service he is actually rendering Mrs. Newsome even though he has continued writing his reports to her.
Jeanne de Vionnet looks to Strether as if she were a beautiful painting, "a faint pastel in an oval frame . . . the portrait of a small old time princess." Before they have time to speak at length, the sculptor Gloriani sits down and engages Jeanne in conversation. In a conversation with Miss Barrace, Strether asks a "plain question": Will Madame de Vionnet get a divorce in order to marry Chad? Miss Barrace cannot see the purpose of such a marriage and offers the opinion that their relationship is "beautiful" as it is and should simply continue. Strether ponders this but takes satisfaction in his assumption that "At all events . . . the attachment's an innocent one." Miss Barrace changes the subject and begins discussing Waymarsh, whom she has lately been entertaining.
A point is made here in passing that will take on significance later in the story: Strether comments at the end of the chapter, "I seem to have a life only for other people," and Miss Barrace mentions Maria Gostrey in this connection: "What do you do for her?" It makes Strether wonder. "Nothing at all!" he says.