Summary and Analysis Book 7: Chapter I



About two weeks later at the cathedral of Notre Dame, which he has taken to visiting frequently as a "refuge from the obsession of his problem," Strether sees Madame de Vionnet sitting in the church. Seeing her reinforces his determination to help her: ". . . he had resolved that he would stick, and at no moment since had it seemed so easy to do so." They walk about and speak briefly there, then go to a place nearby on the left bank to have lunch. Strether feels very sharply "the sense that the situation was running away with him." Madame de Vionnet asks if Maria is still away, and Strether indicates that he has not heard from her in three weeks. Madame de Vionnet then asks him what he had meant, at their earlier meeting, when he said he would try to "save" her. Strether replies that he had written immediately afterwards and again, later, to Mrs. Newsome, to explain his opinion of Chad and Madame de Vionnet, and that he is now awaiting Mrs. Newsome's reply.

Madame de Vionnet implores Strether not to return to Woollett: "That's your only way to make sure . . . that he doesn't break up," she says, meaning Chad. Strether tells her that he considers his work done, having put Mrs. Newsome's "case" to Chad: "What remains is with himself." Madame de Vionnet fears that Mrs. Newsome will marry off Chad if he returns, but Strether avoids comment on that matter by saying that it is not his affair. Madame de Vionnet insists that "since you've taken it up and are committed to it, it most intensely becomes yours." Strether agrees to speak to Chad.

Back to Top