A very small part of Giovanni's Room takes place in America. Early on, David leaves America for France, simultaneously searching for himself and attempting to lose himself. In France, America begins to exist less as a place and more as an idea. David and Giovanni use contrasts between America and Europe to discuss their own differences and difficulties. When David and Hella begin to have problems, they often relate these problems to the fact that they are Americans. The visions of America in Giovanni's Room don't aim for accurate generalizations. They are deeply personal. (See "Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory" for more on America.)
Giovanni uses the fact that David is an American to pinpoint the key difference between him and David – Giovanni has a long and painful past whereas David is young, optimistic, and naïve.
David is put in an impossible position, given the nature of his desires and the conflicts within American cultural ideas – he is encouraged to pursue happiness, but same-sex love is not approved of in 1950s America.