Study Guide

The American Chapter 20

By Henry James

Chapter 20

  • Valentin passes away the next day.
  • Naturally, Newman writes to Claire of the news right away.
  • Although Newman's totally broken up about his buddy's death, he also wants an excuse to see her one more time.
  • Claire writes back and agrees to see Newman at Valentin's funeral, but she says it will "distress" her. Bummer.
  • Newman goes anyway, because a guy has to pay his respects. He doesn't hang around the funeral for long, though.
  • A few days later, he goes to find Claire at her family's home. There has to be an explanation, right?
  • Claire isn't looking too hot. She's pale, haggard, and barely looks like herself.
  • Claire apologizes for leaving Newman in the lurch, first of all.
  • But she refuses to budge on coming back to him.
  • Newman says some pretty nasty things about how cruel the rest of Claire's family is.
  • Claire basically agrees. Her family's like a cult, she says.
  • She reveals her final decision: she's going to hole herself up in a convent for the rest of her life.
  • Newman isn't having it.
  • At least Newman manages to determine that Lord Deepmere has nothing to do with Claire's sudden decision.
  • Claire says goodbye for the last time, but Newman can't help but kiss her.
  • She lets him for a second, then pushes him away. It's all so romantic.
  • Newman leaves, totally distraught.

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