Narrator and trust

“To borrow against the trust someone has placed in you costs nothing at first. You get away with it, you take a little more and a little more until there is no more to draw on. Oddly, your hands should be full with all that you are taking, but when you open them up there’s nothing there.” (pg 77)

At this moment in the novel, the narrator is reflecting on their experiences with cheating on their partners. I thought that this section reflected on their attitude regarding sleeping with married women, and them trying to rationalize their actions. The first part of the quote shows that the initial break of trust does not cost them anything. This then leads from going to a one time mistake, to a full blown affair. I think that the second part where the author says “you open them up and there’s nothing there” reflects the little remorse that they are actually feeling. In the case of Louise, they are so caught up in their obsession with her that they barely even notice the trust they are taking from Jacqueline. 

  I think that the narrator repeats “more” and “take” showing that they think that they are holding the power in their situation. They can take their fidelity from their partner and they still believe that they have the upper hand. I also found it interesting that with many other parts of the novel, the metaphor that was used was related to the body, using hands as the method of taking. This shows the  

I connected this to the narrator’s feelings on marriage. In a similar passage they say that “no one can legislate love” (pg 77) and “marriage is the flimsiest weapon against desire.” I think they are passionate about their distaste for marriage as a way to justify their affairs. This also connects to the novel as whole with the theme of trust. Although they believed they were doing the right thing when they left Louise with Elgin, they broke her trust. They continue to see themselves in a position of power, deciding how and when the relationship ends. They believed that they were morally correct in this situation, despite taking the same that they took from Jaquiline in the beginning of their affair, her trust. 


3 thoughts on “Narrator and trust”

  1. I agree with your argument here. I think it would be possible to take this analysis of this passage a step further by discussing how even though the narrator tries to justify their affairs, those endeavors don’t help to make them feel happy or complete. I feel like the “you open them up and there’s nothing there” really indicates this feeling of taking and taking (by having these affairs with married women) but not truly gaining anything. Sure, they don’t really feel remorse, but they don’t feel any better for it in the end.

  2. I agree with what you are saying about the narrator trying to justify their cheating and then coming up with some made-up reason to make them feel better. By trying to put the blame and such on the other person the narrator makes the partner out to be the bad guy. As if it were okay to do it because “you open them up and there’s nothing there”. The narrator’s justification of their actions really shows a lack of maturity and how they will not take responsibility for their actions. I also think that the narrator also says “you open them up and there’s nothing there” which is really intriguing because I see the narrator as hollow. The narrator keeps defending their actions by explaining how their choice was better for everyone in the long run. The reality is the narrator is a hollow human being who craves to be filled up, but will never let themselves do that.
    *That was a bit of a tangent but your post really got me thinking so thank you!

  3. I hadn’t really thought about trust as a theme in this novel until I read your interpretation of this passage. I definitely agree that this passage reflects how little the narrator cares about breaking Jacqueline’s trust and how self-centered they are. They are only talking about how they feel in this situation, they never reflect on how it might make Jacqueline feel. Their perspective on marriage truly shows how they believe they are not doing anything wrong when they engage in affairs.

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