The Sunday of the next week, Strether and others accompany Chad to the garden party of the famed sculptor, Gloriani. Strether realizes that Gloriani is a very important person, and so he hopes to make a positive impression. Strether is taken aback by the variety of people who are present at the party. A number of the guests are collectors of art, much like Gloriani. In conversation with Miss Barrace and Little Bilham, Strether seeks to learn more about Chad's "virtuous attachment." It is unclear to Strether whether Madame de Vionnet or her daughter is the object of Chad's ardor; Strether does not get an answer to this question. Waymarsh is quite a success at the party, without intending to be anything of the sort. He is described as being "Michelangelesque" and, of course, Strether feels all the more insecure. He has no time for extended introspection, however. Chad intends for Strether to meet Madame de Vionnet.
Strether is nervous when Chad brings him to see Madame de Vionnet. Madame de Vionnet asks Strether whether Miss Gostrey has put in a good word for her. Gostrey has not said anything about de Vionnet - apparently, they know each other quite well. Madame de Vionnet is sure that Gostrey will supply Strether with the necessary details. It becomes clear that Madame de Vionnet is Chad's "virtuous attachment" - not her daughter. After seeing Madame de Vionnet, Strether talks to Little Bilham and says that he is "sorry for" Chad and Madame de Vionnet because there is nothing that he can do for them. Madame de Vionnet is already married and so it is too late for Chad to do anything. When Bilham insists "better late than never," Strether replies "better early than late!"
Strether reunites with Miss Gostrey, though he does not see Chad for the rest of his time at the party. Gostrey is willing to help Strether but she is not willing to help Madame de Vionnet at all. She will not go into details regarding their history, but it is clear that Gostrey does not like Madame de Vionnet very much. If Madame de Vionnet insists upon seeing Gostrey, she will be unsuccessful - for Gostrey will make sure not to be home. Madame de Vionnet's daughter is a very well educated and polite young woman, but Gostrey declines any intervention on the daughter's behalf. Gostrey tries to explain to Strether that Madame de Vionnet might very well be in love with Chad and not feel slightly compromised in fixing a marriage between Chad and her daughter.
Strether asks Chad whether he is engaged to Madame de Vionnet's daughter, and Chad insists that he is not. Simply, he feels "indebted" to Madame de Vionnet and leaving her is awkward. Chad wants Strether to see Madame de Vionnet and perhaps assist her. Strether's primary fear is that Madame de Vionnet will charm him and he will then feel compelled to help her: something that he knows he cannot do. Chad insists that Madame de Vionnet has lived a good life and it is decided that Strether will see her that very evening.
Gloriani is a major character in Section I, but he does not appear elsewhere in the novel. In fact, Gloriani is a character from James' novel Roderick Hudson. Gloriani is an artist, a collector of art, and a collector of persons as well. Gostrey's idea of "types" fits well with Gloriani's efforts to assemble the perfect group of invitees for his garden party. Gloriani's garden party is a symbolic garden. We can recall the Garden of Eden, and view Gloriani's party as an effort to recreate a perfect order. At the same time, a garden is natural; Gloriani's efforts are mechanical and not without effort.
The garden is decorated with people and sculptures, pressing the idea that there is a similarity between the two. Specifically, Gloriani gardens by sculpting people into types. This is the same thing that the "virtuous attachment" has done with Chad. Naturally, Chad has grown out of his youth. But in a non-organic sense, Madame de Vionnet has sculpted Chad's persona into a "type" to her liking.
Book Sixth foreshadows some of the gloom that Strether will face in Volume II. He feels inadequate when compared to Waymarsh, who is described as being "Michelangelesque." Especially in conversation with Bilham, Strether feels a distinct lack of "glory." Strether sees more "glory" than is actually present. He hears the polite social flattery addressed to others, and he interprets this "glory" as objective fact. Ironically, this fascination with glory prevents Strether from fulfilling his duty and achieving a glory of his own.
At 5:30, Chad Newsome brings Strether to Madame de Vionnet's apartment and then leaves him. Madame de Vionnet enters her drawing-room and tries her best to help Strether to relax. She is also nervous, realizing that she must make a good impression. Strether simply agrees to listen to Madame de Vionnet, as he as promised as much to Chad. Distressed, Madame de Vionnet asks Strether for assistance, but he insists that he is in Paris to help Mrs. Newsome. De Vionnet hopes that Strether might sympathize with her and perhaps tell Mrs. Newsome the truth, as apparent: that Madame de Vionnet is wonderful and that Chad is wonderfully improved. Madame de Vionnet does not have a plan for her own rescue. She wants to sustain a relationship of some form with Chad. The prospect of Chad marrying either Madame de Vionnet or her daughter is doubtful. Still, Madame de Vionnet hopes that Strether might hit upon some remedy. She reassures him of her confidence in her ability, but the only promise that Madame can wring form Lambert is: "I'll save you if I can."
Chad wants Strether to meet Jeanne, presumably to compare her to Mamie. Strether has a conversation with Jeanne in Chad's petit-salon (drawing room). Jeanne's noble upbringing bears her through, and she displays a combination of cosmopolitan vocabulary and demure charm. Strether thinks she is rather perfect. Because Strether's opinion seems critical, Chad views it as essential that all make an effort to please Strether. For her part, Miss Barrace is not worried. She is convinced everything will work out.
Strether reminds himself that Madame de Vionnet is married to a Count. Though the Count is a "wretch" (but also "charming"), divorce is highly unlikely. From Chad's viewpoint, an unmarried relationship is unsustainable. Looking around the room, Strether sees love, romance, and even flirtation. Miss Barrace seems to have developed an interest in Waymarsh - one he makes no effort to rebuff. Strether cannot help falling into introspection, realizing that he does not have "a life of [his] own."
Madame de Vionnet spends more time with Lambert Strether, hoping to convey the message: "You see how I'm fixed." Strether cannot help but worry for Madame de Vionnet. He worries for himself when Maria Gostrey leaves Paris to visit an ailing friend in the south of France. Strether encourages Madame de Vionnet to put away any attempt to fix Jeanne and Chad into a marriage, for they are not in love. Later, Bilham tells Strether that Chad is very interested in Jeanne's future and that they are very close friends, despite the lack of romantic interest on either side. It also seems clear that Chad's interest in a relationship with Madame de Vionnet is diminishing. Indeed, Bilham is confident that Chad thinks it best to enter the business back at home in Woollett. Chad looks forward to a marriage but there is no possibility of this with the de Vionnets. Ironically, Strether seems displeased that Chad has finally come around.
The theme of strategy is developed in the conclusion of Volume I. Strether has gained strategic influence with the revelation of Madame de Vionnet's vulnerability. The question remains as to whether Strether will move wisely. To the extent that Strether willingly compromises his position and assists Madame de Vionnet, he is sure to fail. The theme of 'types' and aesthetic order appears again with Madame de Vionnet's "little museum." In Book Fifth, we learned that Madame de Vionnet was a "collector." Her hospitality towards Strether, like much of the hospitality displayed in the novel, is a strategic move. In her vulnerability, de Vionnet asserts her social superiority and sense of taste. If Madame de Vionnet can impress Strether, she can convince him that her position is not without merit.
Ultimately, most of the consequences hinge on the communication between Strether and Mrs. Newsome. Strether plays a Messianic role in trying to "save" Chad and Madame de Vionnet, but ultimately, Strether has no more power than Mrs. Newsome is willing to give him. Strether moves without clarity and his intentions are not precisely defined. The recollection of Mrs. Newsome is a reminder that Strether is jeopardizing his life and his financial stakes back at home, in Woollett. Paris may be romantic, brilliant, and antique - but it is impermanent and temporary.
Chad and Strether begin to grow further apart in terms of their modes of thinking. Indeed, Strether will lose his strategic position and Chad will use Strether to achieve his own ends. Chad looks at his life in a rational manner and he is less prone to Strether's romanticism. Chad is interested in marriage and in pursuing business. Though he cares for Madame de Vionnet, Chad is unwilling to neglect the fact that there is no chance of a marriage. Chad has hoped that Madame de Vionnet would sufficiently charm Strether and delay the inevitable. But even when Strether decides to support and assist Madame de Vionnet, it does not necessarily follow that Chad will reject the inevitable and pursue an impractical ambition to its end. Volume II focuses on Strether's entanglement, his difficulty and failure in trying to secure Chad, save Madame de Vionnet, and please Mrs. Newsome.