Study Guide

The American Chapter 12

By Henry James

Chapter 12

  • Newman's on a roll. He gets an invitation to dinner with the Bellegardes. Something tells us this isn't Meet the Fockers.
  • It's a grand dinner, that's for sure. The whole Bellegarde clan has turned out to see Claire's suitor.
  • Claire tells her little niece a story about the trials of Floribella. Apparently, Floribella tolerated a lot of bad stuff to get hitched to a prince.
  • Claire tells her niece that she could never have endured what Floribella did. Uh, that's not a good sign.
  • Newman tries to figure out why he's been invited. No one else besides family's at the dinner party.
  • Urbain keeps talking about art and other impersonal topics. Does anyone want to know the real Bellegarde?
  • At least Claire's there. Her mere presence makes Newman feel a ton happier.
  • Urbain, Valentin, and Newman go off to have a smoke in another room. Is this like that part of The Bachelor where the contestant gets family approval?
  • Not exactly, but close enough. Valentin reveals that the family plans to accept Newman into their fold.
  • Urbain is a little less enthusiastic, but he confirms what Valentin has to say.
  • Apparently, Madame de Bellegarde wants a word with Newman before everything becomes official.
  • Urbain's wife intercepts Newman on his way to find Madame de Bellegarde, and lets him know that she's his ally. She's a hip and modern lady who doesn't give a fig for family tradition.
  • But Newman's a man on a mission. He tracks down Madame de Bellegarde and gets confirmation that he can court Claire.
  • But Madame de Bellegarde warns Newman that she's already bent the family's rules to accommodate him. Newman expresses his gratitude, but lets her know he won't put up with nonsense.
  • Newman reveals the good news to Claire. He can start a' courtin. Claire seems happy as a clam to fall in line, now that the family approves.
  • Valentin lets Newman know that he's a lucky fella.

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