“To return to the hole, as we all will. Six feet long, six feet deep and two wide is the standard although this can be varied on request. It’s a great leveler the hole, for no matter what fanciness goes in it, rich and poor occupy the same home at last. Air bounded by mud. Your basic Gallipoli, as they call it in the trade. A hole is hard work. I’m told this is something the public don’t appreciate. It’s an old-fashioned time consuming job and it has to be done frost or hail. Dig while the ooze soaks through your boots. Lean on the side for a breather and get wet to the bone. Very often in the nineteenth century a gravedigger would die of the damp. Digging your own grave wasn’t a figure of speech then. For the bereaved, the hole is a frightful place. A dizzy chasm of loss. This is the last time you’ll be by the side of the one you love and’ you must leave her, must leave” (Winterson 177)
The above passage from Written on the Body, not only depicts the true representation of the words it speaks, but also a deeper understanding and subtle sentences that set the tone to more morbid as Louise’s death approaches. In addition to what this passage brings to the literature I also just was very invested in these words, and I read them a few times over. The grave is representative of the eventual demise of the narrator and Lousie’s relationship. Everything that follows the first sentence about the grave itself is just a different way of telling the narrator’s downfall. I found this to be particularly interesting because the description of this scene is simply so dramatic that it makes me reevaluate the tragedy and ending that was Louise and the narrator. The quote itself is basically screaming negativity, screaming about the hole that life is and how it just gets deeper and deeper. There really is not much to understand, however it is still significant in setting the tone for the next parts of the story. It also gives the reader another look into just how dark the narrator’s mind is. There are so many parallels the narrator could have used however they chose death.
The book does not discuss death until the final pages. The rest of the book is full of life, not necessarily the positive aspects of life, but a character who is very much alive as are the people in their life. There are hardships and upsetting moments in the story but nothing as intense as death until the end of the story. It was a predictable yet mildly surprising change of tone. The quote above does a lovely job of reflecting how the narrator views things, which is usually in a negative light. Where Winterson writes about, “the last time you’ll be by the side of the one you love and’ you must leave her, must leave” was for me, honestly, the first real indication that the narrator did not have a chance of a happy ending. Yes, the entire book indicated this through displays of self-sabotage and messy relationships, but there seemed to still be potential for a turnaround.