Study Guide

Daisy Miller Part 2

By Henry James

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Part 2


  • It's winter, and Winterbourne shows up to stay with his aunt, who's now in Rome.
  • Old Mrs. Costello is back at Daisy-bashing as soon as Winterbourne arrives, talking about how Daisy's been going around with a lot of mustachioed Italians. Clearly, for Mrs. Costello, this adds to their sketchiness factor.
  • Winterbourne decides not to rush out and visit Daisy right away. After all, according to his aunt's account, she seems to be doing just fine without him. He goes to visit his friend, Mrs. Walker, a middle-aged woman with almost as much social cred as his aunt.
  • In a stunning coincidence, the Miller trio comes to visit Mrs. Walker a few minutes after Winterbourne arrives. Daisy plays the am-I-joking-or-am-I-really-mad game again about Winterbourne not writing or visiting her right away when he got to Rome.
  • After a while, she starts gushing about her new "friend" Mr. Giovanelli, one of the mustache guys. She even manages to finagle an invitation for herself and this new love interest to an upcoming party at Mrs. Walker's.
  • Then she announces she's going to meet Giovanelli right now, at the Pincio, a popular public plaza.
  • As you can imagine, the thought of meeting an Italian alone in public totally scandalizes Mrs. Walker, who is of the Mrs. Costello school of thought regarding manners and men with mustaches.
  • Winterbourne accompanies Daisy to the Pincio so that she doesn't have to walk alone, but we also get the sense he's curious about meeting this Mr. Giovanelli character.
  • He gets a little bossy with Daisy on the way, telling her "You should sometimes listen to a gentleman—the right one" (2.86). Yowza.
  • Daisy introduces the two guys and she again shows her surprising coolness by not making it awkward.
  • Winterbourne decides to himself that Giovanelli is handsome, but a sly charmer and a fake gentleman. Real gentlemen don't meet girls alone in public or have elaborate Italian mustaches. But, you ask, what about Winterbourne going alone with Daisy to the castle before? We know, we know. Hypocrisy abounds.
  • Mrs. Walker pulls up next to the trio in her carriage and waves Winterbourne over to convince him to convince Daisy not to walk around in public with two men. Winterbourne responds that maybe it's not such a big deal.
  • Daisy comes over to the carriage with Giovanelli and things get tense pretty quickly between her and Mrs. Walker. It ends with Mrs. Walker practically ordering her to get in the carriage.
  • Daisy asks Winterbourne if he thinks she should get in the carriage, and he gives her a big ol' yes. Daisy laughs and says she'd rather be improper and enjoy her walk with Giovanelli.
  • A tearful Mrs. Walker asks Winterbourne to come ride with her. He does, all the while listening to her complain about Daisy's improprieties. 
  • Winterbourne gets out and walks home alone. On his way, he sees Giovanelli and Daisy cozying up to one another in the sunset like the cover of one of those love song compilation albums they advertise on late-night TV.
  • Three days later, Mrs. Walker has the party. Mrs. Miller arrives without her daughter and tells Winterbourne that Daisy is at home alone with Mr. Giovanelli—womp womp—and will be coming soon.
  • Daisy comes late—after eleven, gasp!—alone with Giovanelli. It's one of those party fouls where everyone stops talking and stares. 
  • Mrs. Walker gives her a rude greeting, but Daisy seems not to care. She says that she has been coaching Giovanelli's rehearsals of a musical performance, which he proceeds to give.
  • Winterbourne gets into an argument with Daisy after the performance, chiding her for her bad behavior yet again.
  • Finally, after accusing her of being a wanton flirt, he manages to let the truth slip out: "I wish you would flirt with me, and me only" (2.156). Cat's out of the bag.
  • Daisy responds coldly, "you are the last man I should think of flirting with" (2.157), even though, basically, they've been flirting this whole time. Yeah, we know.
  • Daisy goes off to the other room where she sits with Giovanelli for the rest of the party.
  • When they go to leave and say goodnight to Mrs. Walker, the older woman snubs the young couple entirely. Ouch.
  • Winterbourne tells Mrs. Walker it was too cruel, and Walker responds that Daisy will never be invited to her house ever again. Total shun.
  • Winterbourne goes to visit Daisy at the hotel in a general way, but she's often not there.
  • When she is, Giovanelli is always with her. Boo.
  • One day, he runs into the happy couple—who insist to everyone that they're not engaged—in a public garden. Giovanelli occupies himself by picking flowers for his lapel while Winterbourne warns Daisy that she's being gossiped about and soon she won't be invited to visit any of the Americans in Rome.
  • Daisy tells him he should speak up for her, and he says he tells people that maybe she and Giovanelli are engaged (which would save her reputation a bit). She responds by saying that they are engaged, and though neither we nor Winterbourne can tell if she's entirely serious, he's pretty bummed about it. And, honestly, so are we.
  • The following week, Winterbourne is on a pensive late-night stroll past the Colosseum when he sees Daisy and Giovanelli doing some more public cuddling.
  • This time, he really freaks out at her. Not only is it late, but it's also malaria season. He's worried she'll get bitten by the mosquitos that come out at night, resulting in what they call "Roman fever" and we call eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium—that's right, malaria.
  • He tries to convince her to go home and take some malaria pills, but she refuses.
  • Finally, Giovanelli says maybe the pills are a good idea, and he calls a cab. Before they leave, Daisy asks Winterbourne if he believes she's really engaged to Giovanelli. He says he doesn't know what to believe anymore.
  • Gossip about Daisy's late-night escapades is all over the American scene in Rome, but Winterbourne has kept his mouth shut.
  • Winterbourne gets wind of a rumor that Daisy is sick, and when he goes to her hotel to visit her, he finds out that it's true.
  • He can't speak to Daisy, but Mrs. Miller tells him that Daisy was very insistent that she pass on the message that she never was engaged to Giovanelli; "I don't know why she wanted you to know," Mrs. Miller says to him, "but she said to me three times, 'Mind you tell Mr. Winterbourne'" (2.260).
  • A week later, Winterbourne gets news that Daisy has died. He goes to the funeral and it's short and sad.
  • Mr. Giovanelli tells Winterbourne that he's sure Daisy never meant to marry him.
  • When Mrs. Costello asks Winterbourne about the funeral, he reflects that Daisy's final message to him means that she really always wanted him, not Mr. Giovanelli.
  • Oops.
  • The last sentence implies that Winterbourne, now living in Geneva, is involved with "a very clever foreign lady" (2.276).
  • Rebound, anyone?

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