Maria and Strether's conversation about "the failure to enjoy" introduces one of the major themes of the novel; it will be developed considerably as the narrative progresses. Strether's great sense of "personal freedom" on his arrival in Europe, for example, will be intensified during the course of his experiences in the "Old World." Notice that even at this early point, Strether's values have begun to change. Maria laughs at the thought of the woman in the hotel office who has seen them "thus scrape acquaintance," but Strether is a shade alarmed at this idea. Aware of what Woollett's view of the matter would be, he decides that if their casual introduction and planned excursion are "wrong . . . he had better not have come out at all." And so he goes off to see the town with her. James' style is often troublesome to the reader approaching his works for the first time. An
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