A wet June, a dry June

“June. The wettest June on record. We made love every day. We were happy like colts, flagrant like rabbits, dove-innocent in our pursuit of pleasure. Neither of us thought about it and we had no time to discuss it. The time we had used. Those brief days and briefer hours were small offerings to a god who would not be appeased by burning flesh. We consumed each other and went hungry again. There were patches of relief, moments of tranquility as still as an artificial lake, but always behind us the roaring tide.” (pg. 20)

“June. The driest June on record. The earth that should have been in summer glory was thin for lack of water. The buds held promise but they didn’t swell. The beating sun was a fake. The sun that should have brought life was carrying death in every relentless morning.” (pg. 150)

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The first passage above appears early in the text, after the first mention of Louise by name. The second passage appears near the end of the novel, shortly after Louise’s cancer diagnosis, and directly after a few chapters about anatomy. The focus of the story shifts from exploring the body as an object of love and sex, to exploring the body as it functions and as it fails to function over time. This is also evident in the use of repetition/double meanings above; the phrases “the wettest June on record” (20), and “the driest June on record” (150), besides being obvious sexual innuendos, hint at a sort of cyclical experience. This could refer to the repetitive cycles in relationships that we’ve seen the narrator experience, or it could reference more simply the cycle of life and coming to terms with natural endings.

The passage of time, measured in different ways throughout the book, and not always linear, is a major focus of Winterson’s writing. Along the changing timeline, the narrator’s relationship with Louise undergoes physical and emotional changes. The two passages I’ve highlighted above directly contrast the narrator’s feelings of falling in love versus dealing with inevitable loss as it progresses over the course of the novel. More explicitly we can see that the language in each passage remains rooted in nature imagery, but shifts from descriptions of life, love, happiness, and growth, to descriptions of darkness, death, and loss. This is parallel to the changes in both Louise’s body (from more energetic/sexually-charged to tired and cancer-ridden) and in her relationship with the narrator (from exciting, new, and passionate, to dying and distant).

I think these ideas are also representative of the idea of the “palimpsest,” which we discussed briefly in class: the concept of rewriting stories, memories, or a body of work on top of past versions in order to reflect the always-changing nature of life, the self, and relationships.

2 thoughts on “A wet June, a dry June”

  1. It is really interesting to me that you use the phrase “inevitable loss.” While the loss of Louise is likely to happen as she has cancer, and as we know as readers the narrator does lose Louise. Normally I would have read this line and kept going but after reading the post “Temporary Loss” this phrase stuck out to me. In “Temporary Loss” the writer poses questions about the state of loss and its longevity- as the title implies it questions the nature of the loss. The post beings by saying that loss, at some point in life, is inevitable for everyone which parallels your statement of loss with Louise. However in “Temporary Loss” the narrator’s individual losses, including the loss of Louise, were not inevitable itself (even though I would say it was probable).

  2. The post “Blood, Water, and the Body in Between” looks at the significance of water and rain, especially pertaining to Lousie. Your post also focuses on the connection between water and Louise, more specifically the life and death of Louise. Both of you have pointed out the sexual undertones as well as how Louise’s condition can be used as a mirror. What you both found within that mirror is where you deviate. They found how the water is a marker for seeing and understanding Louise, while you look at the relationship to time and the structure of writing. It’s very interesting how both of you made similar connections and where you began to differ.

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