Guiding Star

“Louise, stars in your eyes, my own constellation. I was following you faithfully but I looked down. You took me out beyond the house, over the roofs, way past commonsense and good behavior. No compromise. I should have trusted you but I lost my nerve.” (187).

This section comes towards the end of the novel, where the narrator is grieving their relationship with Louise and reflecting on where they went wrong. Even as they repent and scold themself for making poor choices and treating Louise badly, however, the narrator continues to treat Louise as a child or a possession to be had rather than a woman whom they are fortunate to be loved by. Calling her “my own constellation” suggests that they see Louise as theirs—their love, their person to look after, their “baby”, and though they don’t say it outright, the narrator shows through action that Louise is also someone they make decisions for. They have her love, so therefore they have her. You could go as far as saying that they even feel entitled to her love, to happiness with her, despite the reverence they view her with. It’s a bit of a paradox. The narrator constantly waxes poetic (literally) about Louise and how lucky they are to be her lover, but they feel entitled to have all of her. This likely stems from their tendency to base their personality off of their lovers. The narrator sees their loves as an extension of themselves, and Louise is no exception—they obsess over her just as much (or even more) as any other past lover, and this is always their downfall.

Additionally, the use of “star” and “constellation” as a kind of symbol or metaphor for trust is clearly intentional. In the same way that navigators trust the North Star and constellations to lead them to their destination, the narrator trusted Louise to bring them happiness just by being with her. I think that they placed this blind trust in her that served almost as a burden, because they seemingly expected everything to work out perfectly with Louise just because they were in love, without necessarily taking steps to ensure the success of their relationship. This is a rather naive assumption to make, enrtrusting Lousie with their happiness as a couple and individuals. Part of the reason it doesn’t work out for the narrator, however, is not because Louise is untrustworthy—it’s because when it matters most, they listen to their own fears and insecurities rather than what Louise has to say. The old habit of running out on female partners continues when the narrator finds out Louise has leukemia, because rather than following the “constellation”, the narrator says, in their own words ,”I lost my nerve” (187). It’s important to note that while the narrator should’ve listened to what Louise had to say about her own diagnosis, much of the issues that arose would’ve been avoided entirely if the narrator didn’t rely solely on other people in the first place. They rely on other people for guidance, and then shy away from it when it matters—likely do to some insecurity the narrator has with being unable to trust themselves and their own impulses (possibly because of all the people they’ve hurt)—and this usually happens when it counts. They panic and listen to their insecurities or the influence of someone else, like Elgin. Either way, they screw themselves over. They need to learn to be their own trustworthy constellation to have any chance of happiness in the future.

2 thoughts on “Guiding Star”

  1. I also find it really interesting that the narrator forms the stars into their “own constellation.” It goes along with your point about the narrator shaping Louise and her beliefs to their own — they take the stars (parts of Louise) and draw their own conclusions about its shape (or the constellation). They literally see what they want to see. They have the power to create a shape/image from the original material. A constellation is a grouping of stars in a “recognizable pattern,” or, as you have said, the pattern of the narrator’s insecurity and trust issues. The narrator projects their own mistrust and issues onto Louise, forming a conclusion that only uses some of the stars (or Louise’s ideas).

  2. I agree that the narrator always seems to run when it matters most. The narrator consistently makes decisions for other people, yet relies on others for their identity and relationships (and blames the women when their relationships fail because of the narrator’s actions). I think your point on the narrator relying on other people for guidance is important as well, because it seems like the narrator doesn’t really have a moral compass (until it is too late) but instead they rely on the other people in the relationships to guide them–physically, emotionally, and morally WHILE the narrator keeps the power in the relationship by being with married women and always leaving first. It’s a fascinating paradox that is also explored in the post: The Difference between Loving and Becoming

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