Thursday, March 8, 2007

An Aged Expression Of Countenance

Journal No. 11
English 48B
Dr. Scott Lankford
Author I Chose: Henry James

From "Daisy Miller: A Study"

I. "...a small boy came walking along the path - an urchin of nine or ten. The child, who was diminutive for his years, had an aged expression of countenance, a pale complexion, and sharp little features."

II. Henry James is describing a little boy whom the main character, Winterbourne, sees while he is sitting at his hotel-room patio. The little boy is wandering around the hotel grounds and trying to find things to busy himself with. As he wanders over to Winterbourne's table, he is poking a walking-stick at various objects just for the fun of it.

III. James describes his characters in long, sometimes drawn-out detail. In describing the little boy that we soon learn is named Randolph, he uses contrasting words such as "diminutive for his years" and "aged." These two word-choices show the reader that the boy is small and almost meek appearing, but he has perhaps seen or experienced more than other boys his own age have. While Randolph is certainly a little boy in many ways, he seems sometimes to have knowledge that his own behavior can be quite immature. He appears to be conflicted within his own self. It is unclear to me as to what might have caused Randolph to be so knowledgable about behavior since his own sister is quite immature in her behavior. I don't know if the family's travels was supposed to be the basis for Randolph's own awareness of people's behaviors or if he just learned from watching his sister meet with so many different gentlemen, but he has certainly picked it up from somewhere. My guess is that it is the latter: Daisy seemed to have met such a variety of young fellows not only throughout their travels abroad, but at "home" in Schenectady, New York as well. She played hostess to many young, American men who had hopes of winning over her heart. Randolph, being the ever-so-curious boy, had of course played witness to many of these charmed meetings, I'm sure. Either way, Randolph is indeed both a little boy and a little man in the same body. While he cannot help but run and skip and poke at dresses with his stick, he also cannot help but learn from the life - and death - of his own sister, Daisy Miller.


Scott said...

20 points. It's not "sometimes drawn out detail." It's always!