Sunset Time of Year

“I am living in a red bubble made up of Louise’s hair. It’s the sunset time of year but it’s not the dropping disc of light that holds me in the shadows of the yard. It’s the colour I crave, floodings of you running down the edges of the sky on to the brown earth on to the grey stone. On to me,” (Winterson 138). 

 In this passage, natural imagery is used as a means of measuring time and constructing identity in regard to the narrator’s relationship with Louise. While Written on the Body follows a non-linear path, the narrator’s references to months, seasons, and natural processes acknowledge the passing of time and relationships. By referring to the “sunset time of year” which Louise herself personifies in this passage, the narrator suggests what they perceive to be the ending of their relationship. Notably, in this metaphor Louise is not the “dropping disc of light” that will return to the sky the next day; rather, she is the “colour” that floods everything, an ephemeral element that will never return in the same way twice. This generates an air of finality for their relationship, which the narrator struggles with due to both the mistakes they made and Louise’s cancer diagnosis.  

Though the narrator is devastated over the end of their relationship with Louise, there is a sense of the inevitability of nature and time within the sunset metaphor. Just as sunsets are bound to last only a short time each day, the narrator’s “circadian clock” supposedly ends their relationships once a short six months have passed (Winterson 79). Despite their efforts, the narrator’s exclusive relationship with Louise ended within this time frame, which casts doubt on whether they are capable of fully changing.  

The “circadian clock” also represents the process of reinvention the narrator goes through with each new relationship. As seen throughout this novel, the narrator has an unstable sense of self; though the narrator tries to break their circadian rhythm to stay with Louise, they still restructure their identity around their relationship with her. Louise’s influence, which is demonstrated through her red hair and colorful sunset, seemingly brings life to the narrator, who stands in “shadows” contrasted before her light. The “bubble” of Louise’s bright hair, which “holds” them in place and which they “crave,” suggests that her presence fully encompassed their life and identity. Since Louise’s hair is represented throughout this novel as something made of life and energy, its inclusion in this passage seems to suggest that Louise gives new life to the narrator. Additionally, the repeating idea of her light flooding “on to brown earth,” “grey stone,” and the narrator lumps these items into a category unified by their drab qualities and the color and life Louise brings to them.  

Overall, though the novel ends with the possibility of a second chance for the narrator and Louise, passages such as this call into question whether the narrator ever truly changes their nature for the better.

3 thoughts on “Sunset Time of Year”

  1. Hi Coolshark, I really liked your post. It reminds me a bit of PurpleUmbrella’s post and how the narrator was describing the different stages of Louise’s body until her eventual death. I think if we tied together the narrators use of nature metaphors and the continues times she uses the word “body”, we would see a lot of connections to Louise and her cancer. I kind of want to go back and read the book again after knowing the ending and seeing if the whole entire is really just about Louise and everything else is just set up.

  2. I really enjoy your analysis of the natural imagery in this specific passage. Nature as a theme is present throughout the novel, serving different purposes each time, but as you said nature in this case–ties Louise to the color “that will never return in the same way twice.” This is SO powerful. I agree with you that that line illuminates the end of their relationship, and at the same time reinforces the end of the relationship caused by nature (cancer) and the actions of the narrator which also reinforces the feeling of inevitability.

  3. I really like how you point out the narrators use of nature metaphors, specifically the previous passage where they had referenced their ‘ circadian rhythm’ because of how it relates to time in the same way as a sunset. I think its very insightful to connect these two because the cyclical nature of a sunset implying a sunrise only to be repeated, and a circadian rhythm determining the cycle of rise and sleep for a person.

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