Writing, Identity, & Queer Studies

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

Ironic Secrecy

“Never unfold too much, tell the whole story. I didn’t know that Louise would have reading hands. She has translated me into her own book” (89).

I believe the passage is about secrecy and the fear of secret thoughts becoming known. The first part of the passage indicates the narrator’s “rules” for thoughts to remain secret. The second part of the passage, specifically the words “I didn’t know” and “her own book”, depict the unexpected reality of their thoughts and self being discovered. When the narrator states, “never unfold too much, tell the whole story”, it indicates the fear of letting their loved one in, yet we (strangers) are able to read their whole story (89). Additionally, the second part of the passage indicates that Louise views the narrator how she wants to view them. As secretive as the narrative is with her thoughts, they are also made very public to the readers that can also be interpreted so differently. I was reading the novel as the narrator’s diary, filled with thoughts not wanting to be publicly known to those around her. It speaks to the level of comfort the narrator has with the reader, but not with those around her.

It’s a little ironic that the narrator implies the idea of secrecy and “never telling the whole story” because Written on the Body is essentially written by the third party of the affair (the cheater rather than the cheated on).  This perspective is different from most other stories as we are used to hearing or reading the perspective of someone who’s been cheated on, not the one who’s doing the cheating.

1 Comment

  1. Nickname (required)

    September 26, 2018 at 8:53 pm

    I think pointing out the fear of letting lovers “in” is valid and realistic. It is impossible to tell what others are thinking at any given time, so we hide things. It is only human to fear judgement. I think the narrator is saying that even though he/she hasn’t completely exposed their true self to Louise, she is able to pick them apart. Louise has read the narrator through their experiences together, so exposing oneself is unnecessary.

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