Study Guide

The American Pride

By Henry James


"Oh, it shall be finished in perfection—in the perfection of perfections!" (1.12)

Noemie's oddly proud of her accomplishments, even though she basically admits to being a hack.

"I suppose you're a smart fellow, eh?" (2.57)

Newman's affirmative answer to Tristram's question shows that he's lacking all pretense of humility. The guy knows he's smart.

It is the greatest victory over circumstances. (3.63)

For Newman, beautiful wife is the greatest object of pride. He wants to show off how awesome he is by nabbing a trophy wife.

"It strikes me that your marriage is to be rather a matter of vanity." (3.64).

Mrs. Tristram is no dummy. She knows exactly how the game is played.

"Oh, you have thanked me enough." (4.22)

Secretly, Newman loves people thanking him for his generosity. One of the things he's proudest about is being a Bill Gates-level donor.

"In the course of the suit some revelations were made as to his private history which my sister found so displeasing that she ceased to defend herself and washed her hands of the property." (8.14)

In other words, Claire gave up a whole lot of money because she's too proud to be besmirched by dirty business dealings. That's the kind of pride we can get behind…although it does ultimately end with her locking herself in a convent rather than, say, marrying for love.

"It is on my father's side that we go back—back, back, back." (8.26)

Valentin clearly takes pride in his family's roots, but he has to mention it ever-so-casually to Newman.

"But I have not any pride where my pleasure is concerned […]" (10.1)

Newman doesn't seem to discriminate when it comes to his friends. He's a loyal guy.

Old Madame Bellegarde stood up to give Bellegarde her greeting, and there was that in the way she did so which seemed to measure narrowly the extent of her condescension. (12.3)

Newman's gotten pretty good at reading body language. He can tell exactly how Madame Bellegarde regards him.

About her equivalent she had high ideas. (15.2)

Noemie doesn't particularly care about nabbing a handsome husband, but her pride won't allow to stoop below selecting anybody who's filthy rich. Emphasis on the filthy.

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