FI Question #20: More Contradictions

by Tom Robbins

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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FI Question #20: More Contradictions

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sat Jan 22, 2005 11:51 am

I know we have touched on this topic but I think there is room yet for a direct comparison:

How do Suzy and Domino reflect the contradictory nature of Switters?
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Unread postby Veronica » Sat Jan 22, 2005 6:28 pm

I was hoping to get someone elses feedback but no one has replied so I will go out on a limb.....Suzy was a safe facination for Switters. He knew he would never really get Suzy. There was never going to be a committed relationship. It was all about physical attraction even though he felt he could talk to her he liked her youth & Beauty.

With Domino she was beautiful in other ways. She opened up a whole new can of worms. She brought out a new & improved Switters & helped him find himself. She challenged him in ways other than can I get you into bed. Domino made Switters arrive at a very special place "spiritually, ecumenically, grammatically" :capnjack:
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Re: FI Question #20: More Contradictions

Unread postby Larkwoodgirl » Sat Jan 22, 2005 10:15 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:I know we have touched on this topic but I think there is room yet for a direct comparison:

How do Suzy and Domino reflect the contradictory nature of Switters?


I have been thinking about how to respond to this all day.

I think that probably nobody will agree with me on this; however, I don't really think they reflect a contradictory nature in Switters. I think they represent a consistent nature in Switters instead.

Both women are on the edge of unatainable and are both somewhat unusual. One is a teenager. The other is a nun. By the end of the book, both have lost some of their innocence..the thing that drew Switters to them to begin wth.

In the end, he's trying to figure out a way to have both of them. He leaves and goes to Bangkok (where they have the young girls btw) to "clear out the coconut". To me, this seems very consistent with Switters nature. It would have been contradictory to me if he had picked one of them and settled down. He was just not that kind of guy.
Last edited by Larkwoodgirl on Sat Jan 22, 2005 10:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postby nebraska » Sat Jan 22, 2005 10:16 pm

Well, obvioulsy the age thing.......... pure youth versus a woman with a past that was not completely pure -- in Switter's definition, anyway, if it means completely virginal. Domino, was of course, a "reborn virgin", if you will.

I agree, there was a depth of commitment and a completely different kind of relationship between Switters and Domino, purely physical with Suzy, a friendship with Domino. They even continued to meet to talk after the sex stopped.

Speaking of the sex between Domino and Switters, what doyou make of their physical relationship? It sure didn't fit Switters' usual physical routine with a woman. It kept Domino's semi-virginity in tact. Did that keep her "pure" in some sense? Was it symbolic of the fact that this relationship went beyond the physical? I admit to being baffled by this physical relationship that never got consumated completely.

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Unread postby Liz » Sat Jan 22, 2005 10:48 pm

Interesting comments here. I agree with aspects of each of your assessments so far. I agree with Larkwoodgirl, though, that the relationships are not contradictory. Both women were in a sense "pure" and "unattainable". A young virginal girl and a reborn virginal nun. How pure can you get? Neither relationship was consumated.

Now to answer Nebraska's question. I don't think that their physical relationship is all that unusual. I think that relationships like that might be more common than you all might think. Look at Monica and Bill. :shocked:
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Unread postby suec » Sun Jan 23, 2005 9:33 am

I also think the women are similar in their represention of forbidden fruit and the idea of being so different in age suggests the idea of variety, really, in life. I have been trying to find how they might represent contradictions, but I keep finding similarities. The paragraph that I am thinking of, where he does compare them, continues to elude me. However, there are a number of passing incidental comparisons. They are both "sisters" of a kind and he even compares their kisses. But there are more interesting echoes, for me. Like the way he decides not to lie to Domino about his disability. He has learnt something. Also, the Catholic connection - and the prophecies. Suzy is researching them; Domino has the answer. More accurately, the final missing piece. It is Switters who finds himself helping both in their search for answers. I think the women are different points in the same line of continuum. And the line that I am thinking of is his development as a character.

He desires Suzy and is attracted by her innocence. He sees himself as a teacher - academically and romantically. There isn't much of a challenge. What doubt there is comes from his moral conflict. Should he or shouldn't he? And although he does get down to some fondling and flirting, he remains passive and much of it is in his head. The way he addresses her is well, verbose, to put it lightly:
'Neither could he consider writing to Suzy in the roguish manner he'd favoured in the past..."as tight as a plastic doll, as squeaky as a Styrofoam sandwich... as accurate as such comparisons still might be, he no longer felt impelled or entitled to make them".'
He is verbose about a lot of things but this extract exemplifies the use of hyperbole - and shallowness. I think he does use more romantic images earlier in the book. At this point, he has grown beyond them.
This can be compared with with his first encounter with Domino, when he tells her so simply and directly, "I love you." OK, he is feverish, but it does foreshadow what comes later. Actually, I think the fact that he is feverish is very significant. A bit like his experience in the Amazon. It is a more truthful reality in some ways. There is also much less reflection and more action. Domino represents a different sort of challenge. The question is, will she with him, not whether or not he should. It is a relationship founded on respect for her soul and intellect, and on friendship. Also, she challenges him when she feels the need, unlike Suzy. They are equals. Whereas, with Suzy, he is tolerant of her lack of development and expects it to see it later. (A possible contradiction is the taste for dominance v. equality. Although dominance has negative connotations that I'm uncomfortable with.)
With Domino, he does confront himself, because in some ways, he is looking at the same woman thirty years later. A woman who lost her virginity to a much older man - a teacher moreover - at the age of 16.
I think the nature of their physical relationship is significant, because it takes him out of his comfort zone. He only knows the word for that part of the body in 5 languages and he is not sure that he wants to do it at all. So, it is a learning process for him. Also, it is very much on her terms. I think it also represents the idea of having it all: "Cake and eat it", as Switters says. She says, "I've known the full strong love of a man of the world and yet emerged with my maidenhood intact". Personally, I think she is following the letter of the law, rather than the spirit, but what the heck? It is a decision she is comfortable with. So, no guilt. I think this is crucial, actually. On the preceding page, there is a quotation about James Joyce: '"The man had an interesting life, which most men do who have an abiding interest in women, drink, high art, and the operation of their own genius". Stopping to consider... why it seemed so tricky, so difficult, to lead simultaneously an interesting life and a conventionally moral life (it was as if some pathology of dualism conspired to make them mutually exclusive)'. So, a possible contradiction here. The person who can do this is may be mature and at peace with themselves. The way forward may be to live an unconventional moral life, possibly. One that he is comfortable with. Or maybe not. There seems to be a long debate in the book about what makes a fulfilled life and what makes a complete human being. It links back to that earlier thread.
Suzy is a distraction and a temptation, with the letter she sends him and Bobby's comment about her makes him promise to return home. It is good that he doesn't. He has learnt something. So that at first, when Domino rejects him because he is not mature enough or at peace with himself, by the end, she decides otherwise.
"Luck... inspiration... both only really happen to you when you empty your heart of ambition, purpose, and plan; when you give yourself, completely, to the golden, fate-filled moment."

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Unread postby nebraska » Sun Jan 23, 2005 7:23 pm

Fabulous post, Sue C You have obvioulsy given this a lot of thought and I enjoyed reading your thoughts.

It seems to me more and more that FI is a really "deep" bok, a sort of morality play, as it were.

Liz, Monica and Bill?????? EEEEEWWWWWWW!

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Unread postby suec » Mon Jan 24, 2005 2:13 pm

Thanks nebraska! I find I am having to go away after reading questions, to give them a lot more thought. They don't get any easier, do they? There are bits of the book that I am really struggling with. Fortunately, I quite enjoy having to do that.
"Luck... inspiration... both only really happen to you when you empty your heart of ambition, purpose, and plan; when you give yourself, completely, to the golden, fate-filled moment."


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