Although Winterbourne, like Daisy, is American, he has lived so long in Geneva that this city serves as his point of reference for evaluating the behavior of Daisy and others. Geneva is referred to as “Calvinist,” suggesting a kind of rigorous, even severe, Protestant work ethic and buttoned-up attitude. Girls in Geneva, we learn, are reserved, polite, and always proper. Geneva in the novella comes to stand in for European attitudes to women’s behavior in general, attitudes espoused in particular by Mrs. Walker, who has lived in Geneva along with Winterbourne—and attitudes that contrast sharply with the “American” way of life, or at least with Daisy’s own actions. When Winterbourne wonders if he and Mrs. Walker have lived too long in Geneva, in fact, his doubts are another way of wondering whether his own attitudes and prejudices have come to cloud his judgment, when they may simply stem from a particular place’s customs.
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The timeline below shows where the symbol Geneva appears in Daisy Miller. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: Les Trois Couronnes
...to a young unmarried lady alone here, in Vevay, though this would be forbidden in Geneva except under special circumstances. But the girl largely ignores him, bending down and asking Randolph... (full context)
...says he’s rather go to the castle with Daisy. Winterbourne knows that a girl in Geneva would have risen, blushing, at this suggestion—he’s been bold—but Daisy doesn’t seem offended. Instead she... (full context)
...She begins to hurl insults on the woman she imagines Winterbourne is running back to Geneva to see. Winterbourne denies that this woman exists and can’t imagine how Daisy might have... (full context)
Part 2: Rome