Study Guide

The American Chapter 21

By Henry James

Chapter 21

  • Newman's in a daze. He's still totally in love with Claire.
  • Aha, he's got it: he'll blackmail the Bellegardes into letting him get back with Claire.
  • Maybe blackmail is a bit too strong of a word. He'll persuade them. Yeah, that's it.
  • Newman returns to Fleurières and the Bellegarde chateau for a bit of "persuasion."
  • Once he arrives, Mrs. Bread intercepts him. They plan to secretly meet up later.
  • Apparently, Claire's returned to Paris. No dice for Newman.
  • Madame de Bellegarde and Urbain are obviously moping around the chateau, angry that Claire has decided to join a convent.
  • They can't help taunting Newman a little bit. In their opinion, Claire would rather be a nun than become Mrs. Newman.
  • Newman's got his own ammunition. He says that Valentin was ashamed of the Bellegarde name on his deathbed. He's not holding back.
  • Madame de Bellegarde leaves, totally flustered.
  • Newman tells Urbain that he's clued into the family secret. Of course, that's only halfway true.
  • Newman knows there is a family secret, but he still has to get the goods from Mrs. Bread.
  • Newman will make this simple for Urbain. If Urbain lets Claire off the hook, he'll stop looking into family secrets.
  • All Urbain has to do is send a "yes" or "no" response to Newman by that evening.
  • Urbain doesn't back down. He sends a response saying that he'd rather see Claire in a convent than married off to Newman.
  • Newman proceeds with the Mrs. Bread meeting.
  • Fittingly, they meet near the ruins of an ancient church.

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