Writing, Identity, & Queer Studies

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


“For carpet makers and cloth weavers all over the world, the challenge of knots lies in the rules of its surprises. Knots can change but they must be well behaved. An informal knot is a messy knot. Louise and I were held by a single loop of love. The cord passing round our bodies had no sharp twists or sinister turns. Our wrists were not tied and there was no noose about our neck.” (pg 87.)

The narrator states that they and Louise are held together “by a single loop of love.” The idealistic version of being held together that is presented by the narrator is an indication that they are ready to change. Even by noting the word single, the narrator implies that this sense of love and well-being is not more constraining for one than another. It is a shared loop. Perhaps in an illusion to her restless past affairs, the narrator specifically addresses that their “wrists were not tied” and there is “no noose about our neck.” This relationship is mutually desired and one is not tying the other down. The narrator’s other relationships appear “informal” and messy in comparison to Louise. Many times, the narrator implied that they felt constrained by being in a relationship or that their affair of the moment was not fully prepared to give up what she had to completely be with the narrator—often her relationship with her husband. This relationship with Louise seems different—it is not informal and there are no “sinister turns.” Of course, this is ironic because the most “sinister turn” of all is tied up inside Louise. What seems so idyllic actually will become undone in dramatic form.

The narrator also seems to be using the descriptions of the knots as a metaphor for their own change that happens to them as they fall for Louise. They say that “knots can change but they must be well behaved.”  Knots—especially tangled ones—are incredibly complicated. Instead of tangling this new relationship with complications, the narrator will be “well behaved.”  They do not want a messy knot here. Every knot can be untangled. There is always a “rule” to organizing the “surprises.” It is just a matter of finding what rules undo the complications. In this case, the narrator is the knot who becomes untangled by Louise.

1 Comment

  1. I really like your analysis of the passage you chose but one sentence struck me especially at the end of the second paragraph: “Of course, this is ironic because the most “sinister turn” of all is tied up inside Louise. What seems so idyllic actually will become undone in dramatic form.” While reading the novel several of your thoughts also came to my mind but I never saw the connection to the end of the novel or rather to the development of their relationship. I think this goes along with the point we brought up in class that the narrator didn’t know what they were getting into because they didn’t know about Louise’s illness. They feel so content in their “single loop of love” that they don’t see the struggle it is bringing with itself. The loop will change and transform into another one of the narrator’s feared nooses around the neck.

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