Writing, Identity, & Queer Studies

In & Out, Either/Or, and Everything In Between

it’s not your fault is it?

“The most reliable Securicor, church sanctioned and state approved, is marriage.  Swear you’ll cleave only unto him or her and magically that’s what will happen.  Adultery is as much about disillusionment as it is about sex.  The charm didn’t work.  You paid all that money, ate the cake, and it didn’t work.  It’s not your fault is it?” (78)

In the entirety of the novel, the narrator never attempted to avoid blame; there was a sense of being at fault in the main character. However, in this moment, they blame someone or something else. Indeed, the narrator argues marriage created adultery, when they say adultery is as “much about disillusionment” (78). In other words, they are saying adultery itself is the disillusionment to marriage. In the context of the passage, the narrator is arguing marriage cannot work, because it is held up to be the end all be all. In their sarcastic fashion, they state if you make your vows to remain faithful to that person, then “magically that’s what will happen,” referencing the supposed result of marrying someone (78). There is also a sense of doing all one can, putting even less blame on Louise and the narrator. After all, she and Elgin paid “all that money, ate the cake, and [yet] it didn’t work” (78). Louise put all of this time and effort into her marriage, yet she still fell for the narrator. How then, the narrator argues, can it be either of their faults for falling in love with each other? Louise’s marriage to Elgin was bound to fail, because they both attempted to follow what the state and church ordered.

The passage, therefore, is about the narrator attempting to put the blame on something else, to ease the guilt of committing adultery. In relation to the text as a whole, this is the crux of the change in the relationship between Louise and the narrator, because there is now a hint of the narrator’s own hesitation to their relationship.

1 Comment

  1. paintstarsincolor

    September 27, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    I agree that this passage is about the narrator identifying marriage itself as the root of adultery in order to soothe their guilt. I also believe that the passage is about the narrator rationalizing their infidelity in her relationship with Louise and Jacqueline. If relationships themselves are doomed to failure, then it is only natural for two people, both committed to others, to find themselves in a situation similar to the narrator’s and Louise. My view on this passage, in addition to what you’ve identified, is that the narrator is justifying her infidelity by insinuating that monogamy is not inherently part of human nature. That being said, do you think that the narrator would have been faithful to Louise had they stayed together and Louise didn’t have terminal ill cancer?

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