Student Question

What are similarities and differences between Daisy in Daisy Miller and Fleur in "Fleur"?

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Various similarities exist between Daisy, the central character of Henry James’s novel Daisy Miller, and Fleur Pillager, the central character in Lousie Erdrich’s short story “Fleur.” Among those similarities are the following:

  • Both characters are attractive young women who find themselves in unfamiliar surroundings.
  • Both young women are intriguing and provoke the curiosity of male characters.
  • Both women in some ways seem mysterious to other characters, particularly in their backgrounds, personalities, and motives.
  • Both women behave in unconventional ways – Daisy by failing to observe social proprieties and Fleur by gambling with men.
  • Both women eventually become the focus of attention of a number of different males, at some risk to themselves.
  • Both young women suffer unfortunate fates.

Despite these similarities, however, the contrasts between the two characters seem by far more important.  Among these contrasts are the following:

  • Daisy is financially privileged; Fleur is not.
  • Daisy seems in some ways a complete innocent; Fleur, on the other hand, is associated with dark and mysterious powers.
  • Daisy seems unfamiliar with the ways of the world; Fleur seems quite familiar with them indeed, as in her talent for gambling.
  • Daisy dies at the end of her narrative; Fleur, in contrast, not only survives but seems fairly powerful.
  • Daisy allows men to take modest advantage of her; Fleur, who is actually raped, achieves a kind of dark vengeance.
  • Daisy is of Anglo-American stock, whereas Fleur is an Indian American.

In short, the differences between the two characters seem much more significant than their similarities. Fleur, for instance, would never say of herself what Daisy says at one point early in the novel:

 “I'm very fond of society, and I have always had a great deal of it. . . . I have always had . . . a great deal of gentlemen's society.”

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