Summary and Analysis Book 9: Chapter I



A couple of days after the confrontation in Sarah's apartment, Strether calls on Madame de Vionnet. Keeping his appointment "to the minute," Strether fluctuates "between the sense of having something to tell her and the sense of having nothing at all." Strether is still struck with the fact that the family has failed to recognize the change in Chad, and he is also uncomfortable because Sarah has not yet even mentioned her mother. Strether and Madame de Vionnet discuss the possible results of the Pococks' trip to Paris. Both of them recognize that Sarah is a formidable woman and wields a great deal of power. Strether informs Madame de Vionnet that he is of the opinion that their greatest ally in counteracting "Sarah's spell" is Sarah's husband, Jim Pocock: "What he wants, heaven forgive him, is to help us." Strether recognizes that Jim would undoubtedly like to see Chad remain in Europe, giving him a free hand in running the Woollett business.

They discuss the possibility of Mamie's becoming enamoured of Chad, and Madame de Vionnet again expresses the hope that Sarah and Mamie will come to her home. As Strether is about to leave, Madame de Vionnet announces, "We're marrying Jeanne." The news affects Strether; he is even more disconcerted when he finds Chad has made the arrangements. Madame de Vionnet assures him that Jeanne is happy with the choice and that Chad loves the girl and would do nothing to hurt her. She adds, "And — willingly, at least — he would never hurt me."