I can’t lie, I wasn’t intending to finish the assignment – reading Henry James’ novella Daisy Miller. After this long semester of pages and pages of readings, I was fairly worn out. However, in this case, the subject matter truly struck home, and I was captivated till the last sentence.
The story opens with a young English man, Winterbourne, as he meets an American girl, Daisy, in the city of Geneva. He is immediately taken with her, and she convinces him to meet her in Rome. Throughout their interaction in the book, there is this constant question – is she innocent and naive or manipulative and dangerous?
The cultural difference was key, in my mind. By the end I realized how I am both Daisy and Winterbourne – casually going about in foreign places with little idea of what is appropriate and simultaneously evaluating the actions of others based on my own experience.