Study Guide

The American Revenge

By Henry James


Revenge is a dish best served cold…like grapes, thin-crust pizza, and leftover Chinese food.

Newman doesn't seem to have internalized that message, unfortunately. He's running around Paris, trying to collect evidence to bring down the Bellegardes for good. Our dude is mad as hell, and he's not going to take it any more.

Although we don't hear a peep about revenge in the first half of The American, it dominates the second half. Basically, Newman goes from lovey-dovey to single-minded Liam Neeson in Taken. There's a major tone shift in the book that shows how our protagonist is thoroughly heartbroken.

Questions About Revenge

  1. Is Newman the only character bent on revenge?
  2. Why does Newman waver from his initial plan of revenge?
  3. Does the book take a stance on whether revenge is good or bad?

Chew on This

Newman isn't that vengeful of a guy. He's just used to coming out on top.

Newman feels that seeking revenge is a quintessentially American action to take.

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