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The American | Study Guide

Henry James

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The American | Infographic

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Check out this Infographic to learn more about Henry James's The American. Study visually with character maps, plot summaries, helpful context, and more.

Main Characters Claire de CintréYoung French widow and Christopher’s unrequited love; becomes a nun Madame de BellegardeMatriarch of the Bellegarde family Mrs. BreadServant; reveals a dark secret Urbain de BellegardeClaire and Valentin’s snobbish older brother Count ValentinLikable French aristocrat and Christopher’s friend; dies after a duel Christopher NewmanWealthy American exploring the “Old World” Noémie NiocheCharming young Parisian Symbols Noémie’s Painting Symbolizes Christopher’s need to learn what is of real value Convent Walls Represent the barrier between Christopher and Claire Letters Symbolize the concealment or conveyance of information The Americanby the Numbers Year James heavily revised The American for a new edition, believing the original plot was not realistic Year the TV movie adaptation of The American starring Matthew Modine as Christopher Newman was released 2 1907 1998 2000 Francs Noémie offers to sell her painting to Christopher for Years James spent in Paris while writing The American Author Born in New York City but spending much of his lifeabroad, James often explored the differences between America and Europe. While writing The American, James lived in Paris, an experiencethat informs the setting and culture clash of the novel. Henry James1843–1916 It is spring 1868 when prosperous, good-looking American Christopher Newman arrives in Paris. His search for love is thwarted by his own blunt honesty and secrets kept by others. Facing the deep cultural divide between Europe and America proves to be more tragic than romantic as the “new man” confronts old class systems. THEMES Old vs. New World The “new man” from America goes to Europe to rediscover its value and to find beauty and romance. Belonging Christopher is an outsider in Paris, and his openness and lack of guile are out of place, causing a divide difficult to cross. Telling the Truth and Keeping Secrets Freedom vs. Obligation The tension between a person’s individual freedom and his orher duty to family cannot alwaysbe reconciled. ell, I want a great woman. I stick to that. That’s one thing I can treat myself to, and if it’s to be had I mean to have it. Christopher Newman, Chapter 3 Sources: Encyclopaedia Britannica, IMDb, PBS Copyright © 2017 Course Hero, Inc. Henry James 1876–77 English Novel Author Years Published Original Language Romance The American

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