The Portrait of a Lady
by Henry James
The Portrait of a Lady Contrasting Regions Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
American girls were used to a great deal of deference, and it had been intimated that this one had a high spirit. (1.87)
The idea of the young American girl is described with some hilarity throughout the first chapter of the book – the gentlemen, Lord Warburton, Mr. Touchett, and Ralph, have some very peculiar ideas about what this creature entails.
She was not fond of the English style of life, and had three or four reasons for it to which she currently alluded; they bore upon minor points of that ancient order, but for Mrs. Touchett they amply justified non-residence. She detested bread-sauce, which, as she said, looked like a poultice and tasted like soap; she objected to the consumption of beer by her maid-servants; and she affirmed that the British laundress (Mrs. Touchett was very particular about the appearance of her linen) was not a mistress of her art. At fixed intervals she paid a visit to her own country; but this last had been longer than any of its predecessors. (3.1)
Mrs. Touchett is, as you might have noticed, really a remarkably judgmental creature. Her dismissal of England as a nation is based on peculiarities like condiments and laundry.
But, as he said to himself, he had no intention of disamericanising, nor had he a desire to teach his only son any such subtle art. It had been for himself so very soluble a problem to live in England assimilated yet unconverted that it seemed to him equally simple his lawful heir should after his death carry on the grey old bank in the white American light. (5.2)
Mr. Touchett, who managed to maintain his American identity despite years in England, hopes that Ralph can do the same – but how can he possibly?