From James’ The American, the wealthy and self-made Christopher Newman describes an experience he had in a cab on his way to Wall Street to ruin a fellow businessman:

“‘One day, a couple of months ago, something very curious happened to me. … At all events, I woke up suddenly, from a sleep or from a kind of a reverie, with the most extraordinary feeling in the world–a mortal disgust for the thing I was going to do. It came upon me like that!’ – and he snapped his fingers – ‘as abruptly as an old wound that begins to ache. I couldn’t tell the meaning of it; I only felt that I loathed the whole business and wanted to wash my hands of it. The idea of losing that sixty thousand dollars, of letting it utterly slide and scuttle and never hearing of it again, seemed the sweetest thing in the world. And all this took place quite independently of my will, and I sat watching it as if it were a play at the theatre. I could feel it going on inside of me. You may depend upon it that there are things going on inside of us that we understand mighty little about. … I seemed to feel a new man inside my old skin, and I longed for a new world.”