Roderick Hudson reflects an ambivalent attitude towards European art. In Roderick Hudson, Rowland Mallet can be read as a would-be American artist who has a "need of expression," yet spends his days "groping for the latch of a closed door" through which to escape from the American spiritual and aesthetic void. The consequent rejection of the father and the Lubeck-tradition he stands for motivates the artists in the stories to assume positions as originators of a new tradition, like Rowland Mallet and Roderick Hudson. In "Little Herr Friedemann," for example, Gerda partly takes over the role of Johannes' mother: her questions about his infirmity restore Friedemann to the state of being taken care of, Renner claims. In 1896, a year before "Little Herr Friedemann," Thomas Mann wrote "Disillusionment," a short story in which a character laments the incompatibility between life as he experiences it and "words."