Library Access

One passage that stood out to me was on page 96, just before the break. This passage reveals a lot more about the speaker’s overall perception about what their relationships mean to them and the value they give them than it seems to on the surface. “They’ve taken my ticket away,” they tell Louise (96), talking about their ability to use the British Library which is important to their work as a translator. Not just their work, their “livelihood” (95). On the surface this passage and the scene leading up to it shows their humiliating removal from the library, which they take almost emotionlessly, and the subsequent feeling of that emotion when they are with Louise. However, their time within the library really had nothing to do with their work, it was simply a space for them to occupy while they were “sick to the gut with fear” waiting for Louise to decide the fate of their relationship (91) and reliving a moment when someone they loved left them (93-94). The layering of these events and memories ties the loss of the library pass to, not just their current predicament with Louise, but all the times they lost access to a central person in their life. Even though they haven’t lost Louise yet this period of waiting and the expectation that she will leave allows them to feel it prematurely. Upon being reunited with Louise, neither of them speak about their future. Instead the narrator bursts into tears, finally releasing all of the emotion from the past two days. This takes on even more meaning because it is the only time the narrator has been able to mourn the loss of their love with that person, though they do not end up being separated at this time. The idea that the ticket is not just for “work”, like a single part of their life, but for their “livelihood” translates to their relationships taking precedence in their life rather than being just one peice of their understanding of themself. Along with that, the fact that they view their relationships as a ticketed event, something they must have access to or else be left outside in the cold, further clarifies their intense attachment style. However, because this comes from the narrator’s own mouth, rather than just showing the reader events (like their stalker tendencies, for example), this passage also makes it clear that the narrator is aware of their attachment style and perspective on their relationships, yet chooses to engage in them anyway. 


One thought on “Library Access”

  1. I like how the image of a ticket is also very definite, because they tend to stand out in both vision and touch: a ticket in your pocket stands out and you’re always so conscious of it, because if you lose track of it you can’t get to where you’re going or you can’t do what you were meant to be doing. It’s an allegory that takes advantage of how distinct it is sensory wise and how much mental space something like a ticket in any sense of the word usually tends to occupy, and Winterson is definitely trying to invoke several different kinds of tickets here, like a fine ticket, a ticket to ride, etc. etc.

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