Inevitability of the Wheel

“I bought a bicycle to cover the twenty miles that separated the bar from my rented hovel. I wanted to be too exhausted to think. Still every turn of the wheel was Louise” (107).

For me, this passage encapsulates the novel itself for two reasons: First, the tension and contradiction created within the narrator’s own mind and second, the thread of cyclical inevitability throughout the novel. The first part of the passage illuminates the guilt the narrator feels, “I wanted to be too exhausted to think” they write, referring to leaving Louise without saying goodbye (107). If they do not think about what they did to Louise then they cannot feel guilty about it, further, if they do not think about Louise at all, then they can’t feel guilty about it. Looking at this scene by itself, is an example of how the narrator keeps themselves very compartmentalized and almost a cold distance away from their lovers—they break up after six months, date mostly taken women, don’t feel much sadness when getting broken up or breaking up with someone—thus, everyone is kept at a distance, even themselves.

But like Louise is a contradiction for the narrator, the next line is a contradiction of their earlier goal. “Still,” Gives the impression to the reader that even though they are trying their best to not think of Louise, it’s inevitable that they will (107). “Every turn of the wheel was Louise” emphasizes the spinning of the wheel of the bicycle, the RPMs repeating over and over as the wheel spins. The fate of the wheel is to spin, just as it feels like fate for the narrator to continue to think of Louise. Further, the connection between the inevitableness of the fate of the wheel to spin connects to Louise by writing, “…the wheel was Louise” (107). The wheel and Louise have become the same for the narrator—no matter what they do, pedaling their bike to forget about Louise just serves to remind them of Louise.

This small passage illuminates the narrator’s internal monologue and battle with themselves and for me, allows to see the humanity and faults in the narrator. The internal battle within the narrator resonates with the reader, especially in the context of queerness, this push-pull between fate and force. The fate of the wheel, fate of thinking of Louise and force of their own will, and force of their own guilt about Louise. It’s one of the points in the novel where the narrator admits to their own emotions, conflictual as they may be.

One thought on “Inevitability of the Wheel”

  1. First off, I absolutely love this interpretation and I never would have thought that way.
    In your last paragraph, you assume that the “internal battle within the narrator resonates with the reader.” The person reading the book could be anyone, a straight person in class or Maxine. I want to know what the cis, white, male pretty boy thinks of this story. Does it truly resonate with everyone? I guess I’m asking is if there is a way to relate this to people all over the spectrum of humanity.

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