Writing, Identity, & Queer Studies

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

Infidelity

“’We could decide in three months. That would be fairer wouldn’t it? To Elgin, to you?’ 
‘What about you?’ 
I shrugged. ‘I’ve done with Jaqueline. I’m here for you if you want me.’ 
She said, ‘I want to offer you more than infidelity.” (Winterson 84) 

This passage stood out to me because it revolves around the active decision to continue infidelity. The first sentence indicates premeditation and affirmation that went into their affair. Louise is deciding when to leave her husband, Elgin, so that she can continue her affair with the narrator. Additionally, that process of decision making affirms the notion that Louise wants (more or less) to be with the narrator that she is willing to leave her husband. From my knowledge, most affairs do not end up with the cheater and the wife/husband/partner getting together. Furthermore, the sentence “that would be fairer, wouldn’t it?” is ironic because she is talking about being “fair” while cheating and while still being with her husband rather than leaving him as soon as she started the affair. Continuing the affair behind Elgin’s back for three months is beyond asking what is fair.

Moreover, Louise’s statement of “I want to offer you more than infidelity” depicts that she feels she may be at fault for the affair. While, yes she is at some fault, I believe the narrator is more at fault for continuing the affair knowing that Louise was married. Written on the Body is all about infidelity and is told from the perspective of a cheater rather than of the cheated on. This perspective is important because there are always two sides to a story and when it comes to affairs, we only ever hear the side of the cheated on and not the thought process or story of the cheater.

In relation to the book as a whole, this passage is about cheating and cheating is a concept that has no sexuality or gender. Reading Written on the Body from a character whose gender is unknown allows readers to read without prejudice. Reading from the perspective of the cheater not only strays away from the norm of only hearing from the cheated on, it also offers an explanation as to why they decided to cheat and what made them decide to continue (or not continue) the affair. I, personally, do not condone cheating and am not trying to justify cheating, but I believe Written on the Body offers a perspective, explanation, and some sort of closure as to why people make the decisions they make.

2 Comments

  1. Cookies and Naps

    October 7, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    There is a book called “Americanah” about a woman named Ifemelu who has a relationship with a man named Obinze while Obinze was still married to his wife. Ifemelu was met lot of criticism for having a relationship with Obinze when she knew that he was married. One question that was brought up was why it is the single person’s responsibility to police the morals of the one in the relationship. This also raises the question whether it is the single person’s (the narrator and Ifemelu) or the married person’s (Louise and Obinze) responsibility to shut it down.

  2. Nickname (required)

    October 8, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    I like how you point out that the passage offers an explanation for the cheater. We live in a society where cheating is a regular occurrence, but we are rarely given an explanation for the action. People do things for reasons unknown, and it is quite intriguing to be able to explore the mind of disloyalty.

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