Monday, November 2, 2009

Something to Ponder

I recently finished a book by Joyce Carol Oates called The Gravedigger’s Daughter. It took me about 2/3 way through the book before I really loved it. Then I was sorry to see it end. But…

There was a passage in it, page 429, which stopped me in my tracks at the time, and has been bothering my mind for about a week now. Here it is.

“A woman opens her body to a man, a man will possess it as his own.
Once a man loves you in that way, he will come to hate you. In time.
Never will a man forgive you for his weakness in loving you.”

I know it’s just a novel; that an author will write what he/she thinks makes a good story. But it has been bugging me. Not that I think the passage is a true one. Not quite. It’s not completely it. Thoughts have been worming their way through the nooks and crannies of my grey matter and here’s what I think might be more correct.

When two people are in love, living their lives together, open to each other, sharing who they are, inevitably a time will come when complete trust becomes a question. It could be from something said in anger, or feeling inadequate, jealousy. No matter. It’s not that he is weak in loving you, although aren’t we all to a degree when we love, as well as the most powerful? It’s that you know the others’ weaknesses. And in time, they know your strength and feel weaker because of it. I don’t know. Or maybe I’m just full of crap and have thought waaay too much about it. Yeah, I’m like that. And why would it bother me so?

What do you think about it? Maybe it has nothing to do with gender, and certainly is not true of all relationships, but on some level it was of one of mine in the past.


DawnTreader said...

To me there is something contradictory in that quote. It is the contrast between possessing and loving that I'm thinking of. Since I haven't read that book or any other of Oates I can't really grasp her meaning - how aware she is of that contradiction. But my guess is she is aware of it and uses it conciously. Possession is not really love; the will to possess is a weakness; therefore possessive love will turn into hatred. Something like that...

amuse me said...

Really hadn't thought of loving as a weakness so much as making us a bit more vulnerable to our emotions. Maybe that is a weakness also, but I'd rather show my humanness than not. Thanks for the thoughts to ponder. :) M

Cynthia L. H. said...

I love this deep stuff...
I'm with you...I think that part of the author's personal experience gets put into the writing...that makes this all the more intriguing!!!
Here's my take on it:
Men are often seen as the "stronger" sex. He has to maintain the appearance of that strength...for the basic survival of the race (i.e.: his role as protector/provider.) In this circumstance, with the woman taking him into her is HER domain...he had to have her permission to enter there...(usually) and therefore, it made him subservient, even in a small way, to him. This makes him feel the weaker, and he begins to hate her for making him feel weak and for "taking" his strength away from him.
Hmmm...I was married to someone like that once...VERY toxic.

Dan Felstead said...

Well...I am going to throw my 2 cents in here! Actually, I had a thought in mind but Cynthia...I think you hit is on the head!

One thing for sure, it is a passage that does not make me feel at me it is a sad and dark statement about as Cynthia said a love that is definitely toxic.

One other thought is that it reminds me of young, immature emotional infatuation. So many times this is how young love expresses itself...very selfishly without regard of the other person. The kind of love that just uses it's partner and then throws it away.


septembermom said...

Everyone's thoughts about this passage are interesting.

Regarding Oates' words, I wonder if she was playing around with the power struggle in a sexual relationship. A man may "believe" that he is the powerful one during intercourse. But at that moment of sexual liberation, he feels powerless and allows the woman (even for a moment) to witness and celebrate his vulnerability. It makes me think of that typical movie scene where the man goes kind of cold after intercourse. He quickly puts on the tough guy facade and tries to "hurt" the woman with his indifference or callousness. He doesn't want to be left vulnerable for her to assess.

I don't know either, but I'm glad for the chance to ramble :)

shabby girl said...

I so appreciate the comments here. All I knew is that it BUGGED me.
I do so love hearing your opinions!!!

shabby girl said...

So very interesting! I was watching "East of Eden" on television tonight and heard James Dean tell his father that "he (the father) could never forgive himself for loving his mother. Hmmm. Very interesting...

Flora & Fauna

Books I have known & loved

  • Life of Pi
  • A Hundred Years of Solitude
  • Kite Runner
  • The Way the Crow Flies
  • Fall on Your Knees
  • Poisonwood Bible
  • East of Eden
  • Shantaram
  • I Know This Much is True

Illegal Immigration