Study Guide

Daisy Miller Quotes

By Henry James

  • Innocence

    In Geneva, as he had been perfectly aware, a young man was not at liberty to speak to a young unmarried lady except under certain rarely occurring conditions; but here at Vevey, what conditions could be better than these?—a pretty American girl coming and standing in front of you in a garden (1.27)

    Winterbourne and Daisy first meet in a garden, reminding us of the original innocents: Adam and Eve. Does that make Giovanelli a snake or an apple? We're not prepared to carry it that far, but James is clearly setting up a fall.

    Certainly she was very charming, but how deucedly sociable! Was she simply a pretty girl from New York State? Were they all like that, the pretty girls who had a good deal of gentlemen's society? Or was she also a designing, an audacious, an unscrupulous young person? Winterbourne had lost his instinct in this matter, and his reason could not help him. Miss Daisy Miller looked extremely innocent. Some people had told him that, after all, American girls were exceedingly innocent; and others had told him that, after all, they were not. He was inclined to think Miss Daisy Miller was a flirt—a pretty American flirt. He had never, as yet, had any relations with young ladies of this category. (1.67)

    On the one hand, Winterbourne thinks Daisy's flirtatiousness is a mark of her innocence; on the other, he's the one who "never had any experience." Who's the innocent here?

    "I haven't the least idea what such young ladies expect a man to do. But I really think that you had better not meddle with little American girls that are uncultivated, as you call them. You have lived too long out of the country. You will be sure to make some great mistake. You are too innocent."

    "My dear aunt, I am not so innocent," said Winterbourne, smiling and curling his mustache.

    "You are guilty too, then!" (1.130-32)

    Winterbourne gets all Britney Spears on us here. You go, girl! Turns out the whole innocence business is remarkably relative and subjective. Mrs. Costello sees Winterbourne as innocent and youthful, and Winterbourne sees himself as wise in the ways of the world. Especially compared to little Daisy.

    How did Miss Daisy Miller know that there was a charmer in Geneva? Winterbourne, who denied the existence of such a person, was quite unable to discover, and he was divided between amazement at the rapidity of her induction and amusement at the frankness of her persiflage. She seemed to him, in all this, an extraordinary mixture of innocence and crudity (1.255)

    Daisy has some pretty impressive psychic gifts for an innocent know-nothing. Winterbourne is shocked that Daisy knows he has a lover. Why? Because it means that she thinks of such things. Naughty!

    The news that Daisy Miller was surrounded by half a dozen wonderful mustaches checked Winterbourne's impulse to go straightway to see her. He had, perhaps, not definitely flattered himself that he had made an ineffaceable impression upon her heart, but he was annoyed at hearing of a state of affairs so little in harmony with an image that had lately flitted in and out of his own meditations; the image of a very pretty girl looking out of an old Roman window and asking herself urgently when Mr. Winterbourne would arrive. (2.10)

    Winterbourne wants to think of Daisy as a virgin in a tower, pining for her prince (read: him). But she's no Sleeping Beauty—she's got more mustachioed admirers than an indie singer-songwriter at a mixology bar.

    She showed no displeasure at her tete-a-tete with Giovanelli being interrupted; she could chatter as freshly and freely with two gentlemen as with one; there was always, in her conversation, the same odd mixture of audacity and puerility. Winterbourne remarked to himself that if she was seriously interested in Giovanelli, it was very singular that she should not take more trouble to preserve the sanctity of their interviews; and he liked her the more for her innocent-looking indifference and her apparently inexhaustible good humor. (2.176)

    Is she or isn't she? The uncertainty of Daisy's innocence is driving him absolutely wild.

    Mrs. Costello inspected the young couple again with her optical instrument. "He is very handsome. One easily sees how it is. She thinks him the most elegant man in the world, the finest gentleman. She has never seen anything like him; he is better, even, than the courier."

    We've all been young and crushing on a hottie who's more surface than substance. Even Costello's kind of throwing Daisy that bone here.

    He asked himself whether Daisy's defiance came from the consciousness of innocence, or from her being, essentially, a young person of the reckless class. It must be admitted that holding one's self to a belief in Daisy's "innocence" came to seem to Winterbourne more and more a matter of fine-spun gallantry. (2.207)

    Gallantry makes you think of knights, right? And knights make you think of what? Maybe fiction? Or gender roles? Men like Winterbourne want to believe that women need to be rescued. Daisy knows it—and what's worse, he knows she knows it. All the world's a stage, friends, and we're merely the players.

    What a clever little reprobate [Daisy] was, and how smartly she played at injured innocence! (2.242)

    Winterbourne's clearly onto her, so why does he still buy into it?

    At last [Giovanelli] said, "She was the most beautiful young lady I ever saw, and the most amiable"; and then he added in a moment, "and she was the most innocent."

    Winterbourne looked at him and presently repeated his words, "And the most innocent?"

    "The most innocent!" (2.262-4)

    This is Giovanelli's Bill Clintonest moment: He did not have sexual relations with that woman.

  • Respect and Reputation

    He was some seven-and-twenty years of age; when his friends spoke of him, they usually said that he was at Geneva "studying." When his enemies spoke of him, they said--but, after all, he had no enemies; he was an extremely amiable fellow, and universally liked. What I should say is, simply, that when certain persons spoke of him they affirmed that the reason of his spending so much time at Geneva was that he was extremely devoted to a lady who lived there--a foreign lady--a person older than himself. (1.2)

    How interesting can you be if everyone likes you? Winterbourne is like the easy-listening station of human beings.

    Mrs. Costello had not seen [Winterbourne] for many years, and she was greatly pleased with him, manifesting her approbation by initiating him into many of the secrets of that social sway which, as she gave him to understand, she exerted in the American capital. She admitted that she was very exclusive; but, if he were acquainted with New York, he would see that one had to be. And her picture of the minutely hierarchical constitution of the society of that city, which she presented to him in many different lights, was, to Winterbourne's imagination, almost oppressively striking. (1.99)

    Costello to Winterbourne: "I'm the bomb." Are you buying this, or what?

    "We simply met in the garden, and we talked a bit."

    "Tout bonnement! And pray what did you say?"

    "I said I should take the liberty of introducing her to my admirable aunt."

    "I am much obliged to you."

    "It was to guarantee my respectability," said Winterbourne.

    "And pray who is to guarantee hers?"

    "Ah, you are cruel!" said the young man. "She's a very nice young girl." (1.115-21)

    It just goes to show how customs change. Nowadays, if we met a guy in a garden and the first thing he said was "wanna meet my aunt?" we'd think that was weird, but here it's supposed to make him seem less sketchy.

    "You are old enough to be more reasonable. You are old enough, dear Miss Miller, to be talked about."

    Daisy looked at Mrs. Walker, smiling intensely. "Talked about? What do you mean?" (2.107-8)

    Daisy knows exactly what she means—she just wants Walker to say it. Which, of course, Walker won't do because "it" makes her uncomfortable. Looks like Daisy's got her backed into a corner.

    "Does Mr. Winterbourne think," she asked slowly, smiling, throwing back her head, and glancing at him from head to foot, "that, to save my reputation, I ought to get into the carriage?" Winterbourne colored; for an instant he hesitated greatly. It seemed so strange to hear her speak that way of her "reputation." (2.112-3)

    It's Winterbourne who's been policing her reputation all along, so Daisy mentioning it to him makes him feel like the creepy sex police.

    "But did you ever hear anything so cool as Mrs. Walker's wanting me to get into her carriage and drop poor Mr. Giovanelli, and under the pretext that it was proper? People have different ideas! It would have been most unkind; he had been talking about that walk for ten days." (2.151)

    Either Daisy has a heart of gold, or she's a brilliant manipulator who can spin her every tiny want into a humanitarian mission—How can I not buy this floor-length mink when I reflect on the poor animals who died for it?!

    After this Daisy was never at home, and Winterbourne ceased to meet her at the houses of their common acquaintances, because, as he perceived, these shrewd people had quite made up their minds that she was going too far. They ceased to invite her; and they intimated that they desired to express to observant Europeans the great truth that, though Miss Daisy Miller was a young American lady, her behavior was not representative--was regarded by her compatriots as abnormal. (2.207)

    It's not so much that they don't want the Italians to think badly of Daisy, it's that they don't want the Italians to think badly of them. Classy.

    Winterbourne, to do him justice, as it were, mentioned to no one that he had encountered Miss Miller, at midnight, in the Colosseum with a gentleman; but nevertheless, a couple of days later, the fact of her having been there under these circumstances was known to every member of the little American circle, and commented accordingly. (2.258)

    This gossip game just gets more and more curious. If Winterbourne didn't tell anyone, then who did?

    But the young man was conscious, at the same moment, that it had ceased to be a matter of serious regret to him that the little American flirt should be "talked about" by low-minded menials. These people, a day or two later, had serious information to give: the little American flirt was alarmingly ill. Winterbourne, when the rumor came to him, immediately went to the hotel for more news. (2.258)

    At first, Winterbourne is all anti-gossip, but then he has to rely on gossip to find the info he needs. It's like when the antidote is the poison itself! (Wait, isn't that also how vaccines work?)

    "She sent me a message before her death which I didn't understand at the time; but I have understood it since. She would have appreciated one's esteem." (2.273)

    Leave it to Daisy to depart with a cryptic remark. Winterbourne interprets this to mean that she may have loved him. But the choice of the word "esteem" could also mean that she simply desired his respect and admiration.

  • Dissatisfaction

    "I haven't got any teeth to hurt. They have all come out. I have only got seven teeth. My mother counted them last night, and one came out right afterward. She said she'd slap me if any more came out. I can't help it. It's this old Europe. It's the climate that makes them come out. In America they didn't come out. It's these hotels." (1.9)

    It's hard to sympathize with a nine-year-old who's sick of his European vacation, but just think of all of the edifying schooling he's missing!

    "She declared that the hotels were very good, when once you got used to their ways, and that Europe was perfectly sweet. She was not disappointed—not a bit." (1.63)

    Americans, including Daisy's own brother Randolph, famously complained about European hotels. This goes to show that Daisy's happy as a clam wherever she goes.

    "Our courier says they take you right up to the castle," the young girl continued. "We were going last week, but my mother gave out. She suffers dreadfully from dyspepsia. She said she couldn't go. Randolph wouldn't go either; he says he doesn't think much of old castles. But I guess we'll go this week, if we can get Randolph." (1.74)

    Dyspepsia is a digestive disorder that tends to affect the rich in novels. Though it's a real and sometimes serious illness, here it's more meant to be like "oh, I just had so many truffles!" With Mrs. M's tummy troubles and Randolph, who's sick of castles, the Millers are quickly becoming dissatisfied with the world and its delights. Not so for Daisy, though.

    Mrs. Costello was a widow with a fortune; a person of much distinction, who frequently intimated that, if she were not so dreadfully liable to sick headaches, she would probably have left a deeper impress upon her time. (1.99)

    The world is just too much for this old broad. She needs a little lie-down.

    "Well, I hope you know enough!" she said to her companion, after he had told her the history of the unhappy Bonivard. "I never saw a man that knew so much!" (1.251)

    Daisy delivers the surprising knowledge bomb that sometimes too much knowledge is a bad thing. You can know a lot about literature, but if that knowledge prevents you from living your life, a la Winterbourne, it's worse than useless.

    The young man asked Mrs. Miller how she was pleased with Rome. "Well, I must say I am disappointed," she answered. "We had heard so much about it; I suppose we had heard too much. But we couldn't help that. We had been led to expect something different." (2.27)

    Listen, Mrs. Miller: If you let yourself get disappointed every time something is different than what you're expecting, you're in for a sad, sad ride.

    Would a nice girl, even allowing for her being a little American flirt, make a rendezvous with a presumably low-lived foreigner? The rendezvous in this case, indeed, had been in broad daylight and in the most crowded corner of Rome, but was it not impossible to regard the choice of these circumstances as a proof of extreme cynicism? (2.89)

    They say it's only paranoia if you're wrong. So, we suppose Winterbourne's not paranoid. Or… is he?

    "Singular though it may seem, Winterbourne was vexed that the young girl, in joining her amoroso, should not appear more impatient of his own company, and he was vexed because of his inclination." (2.89)

    Don't you just hate the old double-vex? When you know you shouldn't want something and you don't get it?

    He stood there, looking at her—looking at her companion and not reflecting that though he saw them vaguely, he himself must have been more brightly visible. He felt angry with himself that he had bothered so much about the right way of regarding Miss Daisy Miller. (2.240)

    This moment totally breaks our hearts, because it's when Winterbourne finally decides that—after a fleeting promise of being reinvigorated by the charming Miss Miller—he's finally dissatisfied with her, too.

    "You were right in that remark that you made last summer. I was booked to make a mistake. I have lived too long in foreign parts." (2.275)

    Winterbourne wistfully delivers his final line of dialogue to his aunt, Mrs. Costello. Unlike your fabulous roommate who's just returned from Ibiza with a tan and a taste for house music, living abroad has turned Winterbourne into a total sad-sack.

  • Hypocrisy

    When his friends spoke of him, they usually said that he was at Geneva "studying." When his enemies spoke of him, they said—but, after all, he had no enemies; he was an extremely amiable fellow, and universally liked. (1.2)

    This is one place where our coy friend the narrator comes out to play. What's the deal with these enemies? Do they exist or don't they? Our money's on the "virtuous" Mr. Winterbourne having something to hide.

    "But don't they all do these things--the young girls in America?" Winterbourne inquired.

    Mrs. Costello stared a moment. "I should like to see my granddaughters do them!" she declared grimly. This seemed to throw some light upon the matter, for Winterbourne remembered to have heard that his pretty cousins in New York were "tremendous flirts." (1.139-40)

    Mrs. Costello can't stand Daisy's flirtatious ways, even though her own granddaughters have reputations to match. Also, we think she's probably sarcastic when she says she'd like to see her granddaughters in flirt mode. Either that, or she's even more perverse than we thought.

    If, therefore, Miss Daisy Miller exceeded the liberal margin allowed to these young ladies, it was probable that anything might be expected of her. Winterbourne was impatient to see her again, and he was vexed with himself that, by instinct, he should not appreciate her justly. (1.140)

    This time, Winterbourne is like a young Christina Aguilera: his body's saying yes, but his heart is saying no.

    "If, after what happens—at Vevey and everywhere—you desire to keep up the acquaintance, you are very welcome. Of course a man may know everyone. Men are welcome to the privilege!" (2.3)

    The gender double standard: the oldest hypocritical stance in the proverbial book.

    "In such a case," his companion answered, "I don't wish to be clever; I wish to be earnest!"

    "Well, your earnestness has only offended her and put her off."

    "It has happened very well," said Mrs. Walker. "If she is so perfectly determined to compromise herself, the sooner one knows it the better; one can act accordingly." (2.117-9)

    Mrs. Walker just wants to be earnest. Right. And reality TV stars just want a quiet, normal life.

    The young girl looked at him more gravely, but with eyes that were prettier than ever. "I have never allowed a gentleman to dictate to me, or to interfere with anything I do."

    "I think you have made a mistake," said Winterbourne. "You should sometimes listen to a gentleman—the right one." (2.86-87)

    Always listen to someone who tells you to only listen to them, right? Winterbourne's idea that he's "the right one" is totally based on his own tradition and cultural biases.

    Mrs. Walker was flushed; she wore an excited air. "It is really too dreadful," she said. "That girl must not do this sort of thing. She must not walk here with you two men. Fifty people have noticed her."

    Winterbourne raised his eyebrows. "I think it's a pity to make too much fuss about it."

    "It's a pity to let the girl ruin herself!" (2.90-2)

    Why so flushed, Walker? We think you're jealous. Oh no? Well, name a time in the book when fifty people notice you.

    Daisy gave a violent laugh. "I never heard anything so stiff! If this is improper, Mrs. Walker," she pursued, "then I am all improper, and you must give me up. Goodbye; I hope you'll have a lovely ride!" and, with Mr. Giovanelli, who made a triumphantly obsequious salute, she turned away. (2.113)

    Daisy the Hypocrite Slayer: there are no vampires, but it's still fun to watch.

    "You're a very nice girl; but I wish you would flirt with me, and me only," said Winterbourne. (2.156)

    We call this The Winterbourne Principle: According to Winterbourne, it's only wrong when it applies to anyone other than Winterbourne.

    "But I don't believe it. They are only pretending to be shocked. They don't really care a straw what I do." (2.216)

    Daisy's onto the snobby crowd. The question is, if she's right, why do they pretend to be shocked?

  • Foreignness and "The Other"

    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.

    "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.)

    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.

    He felt that he had lived at Geneva so long that he had lost a good deal; he had become dishabituated to the American tone. (1.66)

    "Dishabituated" is not a normal word, in case you didn't notice. James is using it to imply that Winterbourne is an alien-like emotional robot. Boop-beep-boop.

    As the day was splendid, however, and the concourse of vehicles, walkers, and loungers numerous, the young Americans found their progress much delayed. This fact was highly agreeable to Winterbourne, in spite of his consciousness of his singular situation. The slow-moving, idly gazing Roman crowd bestowed much attention upon the extremely pretty young foreign lady who was passing through it upon his arm; and he wondered what on earth had been in Daisy's mind when she proposed to expose herself, unattended, to its appreciation. His own mission, to her sense, apparently, was to consign her to the hands of Mr. Giovanelli; but Winterbourne, at once annoyed and gratified, resolved that he would do no such thing. (2.69)

    Daisy is admired by the Roman crowd and Winterbourne's proud to have her as his national trophy. Go USA! No way he's giving up the spoils to the Italian team.

    Mrs. Walker was one of those American ladies who, while residing abroad, make a point, in their own phrase, of studying European society, and she had on this occasion collected several specimens of her diversely born fellow mortals to serve, as it were, as textbooks. (2.137)

    James depicts Walker as a social scientist "collecting specimens" for her grandiose experiments at making herself the most popular girl studying abroad. Gross.

    He smiled and bowed and showed his white teeth; he curled his mustaches and rolled his eyes and performed all the proper functions of a handsome Italian at an evening party. (2.146)

    Giovanelli knows all about how to impress these shallow Americans: play up the Italian thing as much as you can. It's not like they like you for you.

    "Well," said Winterbourne, "when you deal with natives you must go by the custom of the place. Flirting is a purely American custom; it doesn't exist here. So when you show yourself in public with Mr. Giovanelli, and without your mother—" (2.164)

    But we thought the language of love was universal!

    [Giovanelli] is evidently immensely charmed with Miss Miller. If she thinks him the finest gentleman in the world, he, on his side, has never found himself in personal contact with such splendor, such opulence, such expensiveness as this young lady's. And then she must seem to him wonderfully pretty and interesting. I rather doubt that he dreams of marrying her. That must appear to him too impossible a piece of luck. He has nothing but his handsome face to offer, and there is a substantial Mr. Miller in that mysterious land of dollars. Giovanelli knows that he hasn't a title to offer. If he were only a count or a marchese! He must wonder at his luck, at the way they have taken him up. (2.193)

    We spend so much time thinking about how foreign Giovanelli is, we sometimes forget that foreignness goes both ways. Daisy is also foreign to him. That, and of course her money, make her a super hot ticket.

    Of the observation excited by Daisy's "intrigue," Winterbourne gathered that day at St. Peter's sufficient evidence. A dozen of the American colonists in Rome came to talk with Mrs. Costello, who sat on a little portable stool at the base of one of the great pilasters. The vesper service was going forward in splendid chants and organ tones in the adjacent choir, and meanwhile, between Mrs. Costello and her friends, there was a great deal said about poor little Miss Miller's going really "too far." (2.197)

    For Mrs. Costello and crew, the way to appreciate Italians is to go to their old rituals—like the vesper service—not to hang out with handsome Italians in public plazas as Daisy does.

  • Tradition and Customs

    "They are very common," Mrs. Costello declared. "They are the sort of Americans that one does one's duty by not—not accepting."

    "Ah, you don't accept them?" said the young man.

    "I can't, my dear Frederick. I would if I could, but I can't." (1.101-3)

    It's dreadfully inconvenient how Mrs. Costello has no free will over her own actions and is merely a slave to custom and social convention. Bummer.

    "She has that charming look that they all have," his aunt resumed. "I can't think where they pick it up; and she dresses in perfection—no, you don't know how well she dresses. I can't think where they get their taste."

    "But, my dear aunt, she is not, after all, a Comanche savage."

    "She is a young lady," said Mrs. Costello, "who has an intimacy with her mamma's courier." (1.108-10)

    Winterbourne's offensive joke about Comanches is his way of telling his aunt that even though Daisy comes from a different culture than they do, it doesn't mean she has no culture. Weirdly enough here, you get to see his compassionate cultural relativism through his total ignorance about actual Comanches.

    "I think you had better not go out in a boat, mademoiselle," Eugenio declared.

    Winterbourne wished to Heaven this pretty girl were not so familiar with her courier; but he said nothing.

    "I suppose you don't think it's proper!" Daisy exclaimed.

    "Eugenio doesn't think anything's proper." (1.228)

    Man, Eugenio really guards propriety like it was the last peanut butter M&M in Shmoop's kitchen.

    "Winterbourne told her about the place. But he saw that she cared very little for feudal antiquities and that the dusky traditions of Chillon made but a slight impression upon her." (1.250)

    Daisy wants to see the pretty castle, but puhleeze don't bore her with the details. This should've been Winterbourne's heads-up that this girl doesn't give a rat's badunkadunk about tradition.

    "If, after what happens—at Vevey and everywhere—you desire to keep up the acquaintance, you are very welcome. Of course a man may know everyone. Men are welcome to the privilege!" (2.3)

    So men can be as inappropriate as they like when it comes to illicit love affairs, romantic liaisons, and public intrigues. Women? Not so much. Now that's one custom we'd be glad to get rid of.

    "It may be enchanting, dear child, but it is not the custom here," urged Mrs. Walker, leaning forward in her victoria, with her hands devoutly clasped.

    "Well, it ought to be, then!" said Daisy. "If I didn't walk I should expire." (2.102-3)

    Daisy's custom is to walk, Mrs. Walker's is to drive. Houston: we have a clash of customs here! Mrs. Walker is scandalized by Daisy's walking because she sees the young lady as an advertisement for herself, strutting her stuff in the public gaze in a manner that is totally gasp-worthy to a traditionalist like Walker.

    "What has she been doing?"

    "Everything that is not done here. Flirting with any man she could pick up; sitting in corners with mysterious Italians; dancing all the evening with the same partners; receiving visits at eleven o'clock at night. Her mother goes away when visitors come." (2.122-3)

    No one puts Daisy in a corner—except for mysterious Italians, that is. Part of the reason a girl like Daisy comes to Rome is to get in with the high and mighty Americans-abroad. Spending her time canoodling with the locals not only seems to be missing the point, it makes the high and mighty feel skipped over, and they don't take kindly to such antics.

    If you won't flirt with me, do cease, at least, to flirt with your friend at the piano; they don't understand that sort of thing here."

    "I thought they understood nothing else!" exclaimed Daisy.

    "Not in young unmarried women."

    "It seems to me much more proper in young unmarried women than in old married ones," Daisy declared. (2.160-63)

    Daisy knows a nonsensical custom when she spies one. Unfortunately, just because rules don't make sense doesn't mean people don't observe them.

    "Well," said Winterbourne, "when you deal with natives you must go by the custom of the place. Flirting is a purely American custom; it doesn't exist here. So when you show yourself in public with Mr. Giovanelli, and without your mother—"

    "Gracious! poor Mother!" interposed Daisy.

    "Though you may be flirting, Mr. Giovanelli is not; he means something else." (2.164-6)

    What does Giovanelli think it means? And how did Winterbourne become such an expert on Italian dating?

    Daisy turned very pale and looked at her mother, but Mrs. Miller was humbly unconscious of any violation of the usual social forms. She appeared, indeed, to have felt an incongruous impulse to draw attention to her own striking observance of them. "Good night, Mrs. Walker," she said; "we've had a beautiful evening. You see, if I let Daisy come to parties without me, I don't want her to go away without me." Daisy turned away, looking with a pale, grave face at the circle near the door; Winterbourne saw that, for the first moment, she was too much shocked and puzzled even for indignation. (2.173)

    This is right after Walker snubs Daisy at her party. Mrs. Miller is so socially clueless, she doesn't even know enough to be offended. On the other hand, we see Daisy gets it in a serious way and this is the only time we see her really looking "grave" until she's under one.