Esther’s Space- journey through my life

September 12, 2007

Why does Gail Right get to be so right?

Filed under: p()5t^^()d3,~]\[ — estherspace @ 7:01 pm

‘You shouldn’t have run out on her.’

Run out on her? that doesn’t sound like the heroics I’d had in mind. Hadn’t I sacrificed myself for her? Offered my life for her life?

‘She wasn’t a child.’

Yes she was. My child. My baby. The tender thing I wanted to protect.

‘You didn’t give her a chance to say what she wanted. You left.’

I had to leave. She would have died for my sake. Wasn’t it better for me to live a half life for her sake?

‘Honey, if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a hero without a cause. People like that just make trouble so that they can solve it…I think you’re a crazy fool. Maybe you didn’t love her.’ (Winterson 159-161)


Out here in the street, striding purposefully, I can give the impression that I’ve got somewhere to go. There’s a light on in my flat and you’ll be there as arranged with your own key. I don’t have to hurry….It gives me a loose-limbed confidence to know you’ll be there. I’m expected. There’s a continuum. There’s freedom. (Winterson 181)


So, Sam, where does that leave you now? What kind of love did you think you had for Louise? I think it wasn’t love at all, but instead a power play. You are the subject, and she has always been the object. Rarely do we, the readers, have access to her voice, except through you. You thought that things were going well enough, because they were going ‘as arranged’. However, once Louise became the subject in her own life, you were displaced. While you pretend that it was best for Louise to give you up and instead be with Elgin for nothing more than the care he can provide, it should be noted that what she wanted was never important to you. She got those second opinions. But, yours was the most important. If she is indeed dying, isn’t it most important to make her happy and comfortable? Instead, like Gail points out, you forget her except that she is the reason that you are wallowing in the deepest vat of self-pity. There was never any real self-sacrifice for Louise. Instead, you broke her heart so that you could avoid the stress of the situation, and so that you, instead, could be the victim of this cancer.

At the end of the novel, Louise has become the subject, but of another book. She has thoughts and feelings independent of the narrator, and, most importantly, makes decisions. She has made herself un-findable, but the evidence of her being an individual human remains. She left those second opinions for Sam to read, as well as the evidence of her at the apartment for the sole reason of illustrating that she has a legitimate and continuing life outside of Sam’s life.

Is love simply power? If one says ‘I love you’ is it the same as saying ‘It makes me feel good that you do what I want’? Certainly the relationships in this novel follow this criteria for love. Elgin certainly feels a satisfying level of comfort with Louise when she does as he prefers, Sam somehow loves Jaqueline until she no longer satisfies his/her want of stability. Even Sam’s previous relationship with Carlo, the chaetophobic shaver, must end when Sam no longer makes Carlo happy by doing what he wants. Love doesn’t get to ‘do’ anything in this novel. It does not transform anyone because of it or because one is in pursuit of it. Love is, instead, the object of the novel. It has a variety of responsibilities heaped upon it. An object, in grammar, is used to help the subject ‘do’ the verb. Love as the object, then, is supposed to help our narrator to do something, such as be happy. But, perhaps, the problem is the understanding of love as an object. Love is a verb, and sometimes it can be the subject, but love as an object fails every time. Just ask Sam.


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