| Quote #1
There are sights and sounds which evoke a vision, an echo, of Newport and Saratoga. There is a flitting hither and thither of "stylish" young girls, a rustling of muslin flounces, a rattle of dance music in the morning hours, a sound of high-pitched voices at all times. You receive an impression of these things at the excellent inn of the "Trois Couronnes" and are transported in fancy to the Ocean House or to Congress Hall. But at the "Trois Couronnes," it must be added, there are other features that are much at variance with these suggestions: neat German waiters, who look like secretaries of legation; Russian princesses sitting in the garden; little Polish boys walking about held by the hand, with their governors; a view of the sunny crest of the Dent du Midi and the picturesque towers of the Castle of Chillon. (1.1)
So, Vevey is like bizarro Newport: you feel at home but—here's the kicker—you're not. So don't get too comfortable.
| Quote #2
"I can't get any candy here--any American candy. American candy's the best candy."
"And are American little boys the best little boys?" asked Winterbourne.
"I don't know. I'm an American boy," said the child.
"I see you are one of the best!" laughed Winterbourne.
"Are you an American man?" pursued this vivacious infant.
And then, on Winterbourne's affirmative reply—"American men are the best," he declared. (1.10-15)
When we think Switzerland, we think chocolate and clocks. When we think America, we think men and candy. Right? Not really. James is trying to show how Americans always claim that America is arbitrarily superior. We may have invented M&Ms and Morgan Freeman, but we're not all that and a bag of chips. (Maybe just half a bag.)
| Quote #3
She asked him if he was a "real American"; she shouldn't have taken him for one; he seemed more like a German—this was said after a little hesitation—especially when he spoke. Winterbourne, laughing, answered that he had met Germans who spoke like Americans, but that he had not, so far as he remembered, met an American who spoke like a German. (1.44)
In the 19th century, Germans were thought to be a little uptight. Why? Well, they had been extremely busy coming up with some of the most complicated and depressing philosophical insights that the world has ever known. See Kant, Hegel, Goethe, Schopenhauer, Marx, and Weber if you have about thirty years to kill.