“Will you let me crawl inside you, stand guard over you, trap them as they come at you? Why can’t I dam their blind tide that filthies your blood? Why are there no lock gates on the portal vein? The inside of your body is innocent, nothing has taught it fear. Your artery canals trust their cargo, they don’t check the shipment in the blood.” (115)
The narrator is asking themselves multiple rhetoric questions about the human body, and how the sickness that is affecting Louise’s body manages to take hold. The questions are filled with naïve and hopeful imagery, of “gates” that could be closed to keep cancer out of the body. The narrator is using the questions to cope with the facts they have just learned about the sickness that will cause their lover to die.
The passage is lined with a theme of ships and the sea. The narrator uses words like “tide”, “canals”, “cargo” and “shipment” to describe the ways in which the sickness is transported through the body. They also describe the trust the body has in the “shipment” that is being transported. The body does not expect a deathly attack of cancer cells and is consequently not prepared to defend it.
Parallel to that, one could compare the narrator to Louise’s body. They have never lost a lover to a deadly sickness, or death at all for that matter. They are innocent, no one has taught them this specific kind of fear. The narrator didn’t check the “cargo”, the “shipment”, that Louise is carrying with her because they never had to before. Maybe they would have wished for a “lock gate” themselves, to protect their heart from hurt and pain. However, it is already too late. They have fallen in love with Louise and Louise is going to die. There is no changing nature. They can try to prolong Louise’s life, fight cancer as long and hard as possible – only at a terribly painful prize.