Study Guide

The American Chapter 5

By Henry James

Chapter 5

  • When Mrs. Tristram hears about how Claire "wasn't home" (cough, cough), she tells Newman to brush it off.
  • "Go travel around Europe for the summer!" she tells him. Not bad advice. If only we could travel around Europe every time we got rejected…
  • Newman is goo-goo ga-ga over Claire, but he goes anyway.
  • Newman spends the entire summer bumming around Europe. It ain't bad.
  • In Holland, he meets a stand-up fellow from Dorchester, Massachusetts: one Benjamin Babcock, a Unitarian minister.
  • The two guys take over across Germany and Switzerland together.
  • Babcock's the kind of guy who hates French fries because they're French. In other words, he can't stand Europe.
  • Why is he traveling, then? He wants to glimpse the natural beauty of Europe.
  • Eventually, Babcock decides that he can't handle Newman. Newman's a pleasure-seeker, while Babcock is (in his own words) "responsible."
  • Newman shrugs it off. He's a master at handling rejection.
  • Of course, he's not going to let Babcock go without a friendly ribbing. Newman sends his old pal a statue of a monk in the mail.
  • Get it? Newman thinks Babcock takes life a little too seriously.
  • Still, Newman has Claire on the mind.
  • He writes to Mrs. Tristram to see if she can arrange another meeting between the two.
  • Newman tells Mrs. Tristram that after hanging around with Babcock, he meets up with an Englishman who thinks he's too serious. There's no winning in life.

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