Study Guide

The American Pride

By Henry James


Pride goeth before a fall, as our Granny Shmoop used to say.

And, in Newman's case, that's the straight-up truth. His pride leads him into lots of less-than-ideal situations, like not realizing that he's being stabbed in the back during his engagement party.

For good reason, Newman's proud of himself. He's built up tons of wealth in a short period of time, he's worldly, and he knows how to appreciate all of the great things that Europe has to offer. That very pride blinds him to his less appealing characteristics, like occasionally appearing crass in front of his in-laws.

Although the Bellegarde family is plenty proud in different ways, they take great pains to conceal their pride. That's a lesson Newman might benefit from.

Questions About Pride

  1. Is Claire proud of her aristocratic family's heritage, or is she ashamed? How would we know either way?
  2. How does Newman convey his pride to the Bellegarde family?
  3. Is there a class difference in terms of how pride is expressed?

Chew on This

Valentin's misplaced pride leads him to challenge Stanislas Kapp to a duel.

Newman gains some humility when he loses Claire.

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