Sam Dodsworth, a wealthy automobile manufacturer from Zenith. Retired from business, with ample money and leisure, he takes his wife Fran on what is planned as a long trip to Europe. He is eager to see the places he has read so much about, but he finds it difficult to adjust to European life and impossible to please his wife, whose restlessness and social climbing, as well as her endless criticism of him, get more and more on his nerves. No sooner does he begin to enjoy one country than she wants to move on to another. She begins to consider herself a European and constantly reminds him that he is an uncultivated American businessman who cannot appreciate what he sees. The climax comes in Germany, when she announces that she wants a divorce so that she can marry Count von Obersdorf, an impecunious Austrian nobleman. Sam leaves her in Berlin to arrange for the divorce. In Paris, he is so lonely that he drifts into a brief affair with Fernande Azerede. Tiring of this affair, he goes to Venice and there meets a Mrs. Cortright, an attractive widow whom he had met casually before. They become interested in each other and are considering marriage when Fran writes that Obersdorf has declined to marry her. Out of a sense of duty, Sam returns to his temporarily penitent wife, but on the voyage to America he realizes that he can no longer endure her continual criticism. He finally breaks with her, to return to Italy and Mrs. Cortright, with whom he can find happiness. He is a portrait of the American trying desperately to understand the older culture of Europe, which he both admires and dislikes.
Frances (Fran) Dodsworth
Frances (Fran) Dodsworth, Sam’s wife, the daughter of a rich brewer. She is spoiled, selfish, and...
(The entire section is 726 words.)