Study Guide

The American Chapter 4

By Henry James

Chapter 4

  • Remember that painting Newman was supposed to get from Noémie, back in Chapter 1? Neither does Newman.
  • Luckily, M. Nioche is a guy who pays his debts. He brings the promised painting in a flashy frame.
  • Uh, hold up. M. Nioche wants three thousand francs for the painting, which is way more than Newman promised.
  • Newman's an agreeable guy, so he pays the extra without much fuss.
  • Newman figures out that M. Nioche used to be a hotshot businessman who failed miserably and is totally broke.
  • In fact, M. Nioche is terrified that Newman's going to take advantage of his beloved daughter, Noémie.
  • Newman has no intention of doing so. But he gathers that Noémie is quite capable of wheeling and dealing on her own.
  • To put the elderly gentleman at ease, Newman offers to pay Noémie's dowry when she finds someone she wants to marry. Score.
  • Since M. Nioche won't accept a dowry for free, he promises that Noémie will paint six pictures of anything Newman would like.
  • M. Nioche isn't a total swindler. He also offers Newman French lessons gratis out of gratitude.
  • Every day at half past nine, M. Nioche and Newman sip coffee together and Newman gets his French on.
  • Noémie meets Newman at the Louvre to pick out pictures to paint.
  • She preens around the museum like a peacock and objects that the paintings Newman has chosen are too hard.
  • Newman is baffled. Ever heard of something called gratitude, girl?
  • Noémie tells Newman that she doesn't just want to marry anyone. She's aiming for the best and richest suitor.
  • She apologizes and storms off in a huff.

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