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Daisy Miller

Henry James

Chapter 4, first half

Chapter 3

Chapter 4, first half, page 2

page 1 of 2

Summary

Several nights later, at Mrs. Walker’s party, Winterbourne attempts to make Daisy see reason about her behavior. He explains that flirting is “a purely American custom,” one that Italians neither understand nor accept in young unmarried women. Although she may be flirting, Giovanelli is not. Daisy readily admits that she is “a fearful, frightful flirt.” When Winterbourne suggests that she and Giovanelli might actually be in love with each other, which would be another matter, she blushes and accuses him of saying “disagreeable things.” She spends the rest of the evening in another room with Giovanelli.

When the Millers take their leave of Mrs. Walker at the end of the evening, Mrs. Walker turns her back on Daisy. For the first time, Winterbourne sees Daisy genuinely shocked and hurt. He tells Mrs. Walker her gesture was “very cruel,” but Mrs. Walker is unrepentant: Daisy will never enter her drawing room again.

Winterbourne continues to call on Daisy, whom he finds always with Giovanelli. Much of Roman society speaks unfavorably of her now. Since Mrs. Walker’s party, the American colonists have ceased extending invitations to her.

One day, while strolling through St. Peter’s with his aunt, Winterbourne points out Daisy walking with “the inevitable Giovanelli,” whom he has learned is actually a gentleman lawyer. Mrs. Costello jokes that perhaps the courier introduced Daisy to Giovanelli and will receive a commission when they wed. Winterbourne says he doubts that Daisy thinks of marrying Giovanelli, to which his aunt replies, “You may be sure she thinks of nothing. She goes on from day to day, from hour to hour as they did in the Golden Age.” Mrs. Costello says she can imagine nothing more vulgar.

That day, Winterbourne gets a taste of the indignation that Daisy’s behavior excites. A dozen of the American colonists walking through St. Peter’s come to confer with Mrs. Costello about Daisy going “too far.” Winterbourne pities Daisy and finds it difficult to hear the things being said about her. On another occasion a friend tells him of having come upon Daisy and Giovanelli sequestered in a small room at the Doria Palace, where Velasquez’s famous portrait of Pope Innocent X hangs.

Winterbourne visits Mrs. Miller, hoping to make her see reason about Daisy’s behavior. Mrs. Miller seems to regard Daisy and Giovanelli as engaged, though she says Daisy denies it. Winterbourne gives up on the idea of trying to place Mrs. Miller on her guard. Meanwhile, he continues to obsess about Daisy’s character. He wonders if her defiance comes from the knowledge that she is innocent, or if she actually belongs to the reckless class of women whose reputations don’t need to be worried over. He wonders if her lack of regard for convention is a national or a personal trait. Not understanding Daisy or her motivations makes him angry and uneasy.

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Discussion question

by Susantizp, January 08, 2014

Daisy and Winterbourne. How do these names symbolically represent these characters? In what ways are the names appropriate? Can you suggest alternate names for both characters that would also be evocative of their nature? Explain.

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17 out of 17 people found this helpful

Daisy Miller-Stereotypes "American girl"

by sparklshine, February 02, 2014

How is Daisy Miller represented of the stereotype of he "American girl"?
And why is she so worried about her purity?

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1 out of 2 people found this helpful

Mrs.Walker

by purl31, April 21, 2015

Does anyone think that Mrs.Walker could be the older woman Winterbourne stays in Geneva for? She stays in Geneva during the winter and she is American. No one has seen this older woman it said in the book but that would make sense as they would have to keep any interest they had in eachother a complete secret.

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