Daisy Miller
Henry James
Contributed by Bobbie Heil
Chapter 8

Mrs. Miller and Randolph prepare to go back to their hotel, but Daisy announces that she is not going back -- she is going to the Pincio, [a public park], to take a walk. Mrs. Walker objects that it isn’t safe at this time of day, in the late afternoon: the Pincio will be crowded with carriages and pedestrians. Besides, there is a fever going around Rome. 

But Daisy reassures Mrs. Walker that she will be walking with a friend. When Mrs. Walker asks if the friend is Mr. Giovanelli, Daisy -- without a moment’s hesitation, and without seeming to recognize that her answer is very improper -- answers that it is. 

Mrs. Walker takes Daisy’s hand and begs her not to go off on this walk. She is clearly afraid of the "impropriety" of it, and of the effect it might have on Daisy’s reputation if many people see her walking, in public, alone with an Italian man. Daisy does not seem to take this danger very seriously. But she points out that the Pincio is very close by, and says that if Winterbourne were a real gentleman, he would offer to walk her there and keep her safe. Winterbourne, of course, immediately volunteers.

Because the path is crowded with pedestrians, Winterbourne and Daisy advance very slowly. Winterbourne is astonished that Daisy had even thought of walking out alone, and decides that he will not leave her alone with Mr. Giovanelli. As they walk, Daisy reproaches Winterbourne for not having come to see her earlier. Winterbourne makes an excuse, which she does not buy, but she promptly changes the subject and begins to talk about her family’s hotel rooms. Daisy tells Winterbourne that she is having fun with the "extremely select... society" of Rome. Of course, Daisy’s idea of "select society" is probably not the same as that of Winterbourne, Mrs. Costello, or Mrs. Walker -- she seems to be talking about her "gentlemen friends," also know as the "regular Roman fortune-hunters" Mrs. Costello mentioned to Winterbourne.

When they reach the gardens of the Pincio, Winterbourne and Daisy spot Mr. Giovanelli, who is leaning against a tree and has not yet seen them. He is a "little man," with a handsome face, a hat and monocle and flower in his button hole. Winterbourne sizes him up, and quietly tells Daisy that he does not plan to leave her alone with him. 

Daisy stops and looks at Winterbourne. She says, "I have never allowed gentlemen to dictate to me, or to interfere with anything I do." Winterbourne tells her gently that he thinks she ought to listen to gentlemen sometimes -- at least, the "right one." Daisy laughs, and asks him to tell her if Mr. Giovanelli is the "right one" to listen to. Mr. Giovanelli, who has seen them, now approaches, bowing and smiling. Winterbourne decides that -- for an Italian -- he is not bad-looking and seems intelligent, but nonetheless he tells Daisy, "No, he’s not the right one." 

Daisy introduces Winterbourne and Mr. Giovanelli to each other, and the three of them stroll off through the Pincio, one man on each side. Mr. Giovanelli, who speaks English very well, chats and jokes very cleverly to Daisy. Winterbourne maintains a sullen silence, his thoughts in a whirl. He feels certain that Giovanelli has long-term intentions toward Daisy -- perhaps he hopes to make her fall in love with him, and marry her? And he feels irritated that Daisy can’t tell that Giovanelli is not a "real gentleman": Winterbourne is sure he’s just a music teacher, or a bad artist, and therefore not worthy of Daisy’s interest.

Winterbourne is also feeling very conflicted about his own feelings toward Daisy. As he did in Vevey, he asks himself: Is Daisy Miller really a "nice girl"? Surely, a nice girl wouldn’t have made this date with an Italian, alone -- even in a crowded, public place. Winterbourne also can’t figure out why Daisy isn’t more visibly upset that he is tagging along with her and her supposed lover. Winterbourne’s own confusion makes him angry with himself: Strangely, he wishes that he could think badly of her, since then his own emotions would be less confused.

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