ATD Question #14 - More to Analyze

by John Fante

Moderator: Liz

User avatar
suec
Posts: 1381
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 1:57 pm
Location: uk

Status: Offline

Unread postby suec » Fri Nov 30, 2007 1:23 pm

I was just curious if I was the only one that wondered what happened there.


Nope. I wondered too! I couldn't quite believe my eyes when I read this extract!

When I first read it, I kind of assumed it was a fantasy of Camilla, but seeing the passage isolated here, I just couldn't quite believe what I was reading. I think it's an example of "la petite morte" that fansmom mentioned, and he even uses one of Rochester's words from his prologue: "shudder", which is kind of incidentally interesting. I agree with nebraska's point about the lust. I quite like the contrast with what has gone before, where he is working hard at being reformed, lists all the little things he is doing and his new way of thinking, and especially quoting the religious passage and poem. He has memorised them, learnt them by rote, as it were, but not internalised them really. The real appreciation has escaped him, possibly because he is motivated by fear and guilt, rather than love of God. Then comes the woman and the lust, which is very real to him, and powerful.

But I wonder if the woman is Camilla, which is why I was so taken aback and confused, although I am not at all sure about this. Because the alternative is a third woman, just mentioned ever so casually and incidentally and not even named. But who is she? I got to thinking about the prostitute and that maybe it was she - because after all, the waving from the window and the leer, and the fact that he sees her on the way back from the church. At least he mentions stairs in her house so there is a bit of an echo. I kind of quite like the notion, because I think sex with three women is significant as a number. Also, it being mentioned so briefly makes sense to me because of the ease of the sin. So much emotion and doubts and flashes of guilt after the first time - and now nothing – well, a who cares? Well, I think that is significant - the descent into "immoral" ways being so easy and rapid: the repentance and turning over of a new leaf so hard to maintain.

On the other hand, perhaps it isn’t an actual encounter at all, but an imaginary one. However I look at it, it seems like an extraordinary passage to me. I wonder about the house obscured by vines and the rickety stairs and generally the physical and moral decay. But I also think it is the stuff of myth, fairytale and especially, Arthurian legend. The woman, well, she’s pretty much the temptress who waylays the knight – and who goes right back to the story of Eve and the original Fall of Man. In which case, it doesn’t really matter who the woman is; she is archetypal Woman.

However you cut it, he feels the lust and rejects repentance. And afterwards, when he writes about Vera, the passage is absolutely full of sexual imagery. Here, the sexual urge seems to be definitely allied with the creative force and that creative force is orgasmic. Parlez, I like your point about the similarity between sexual lust and the desire to be a famous writer. To me, your comment explains the use of the sexual imagery.

And then he starts thinking about Camilla, using a very crude blunt term. No romancing or dressing it up as something else there! On seeing her, he describes it as “Like film over my eyes, like a spider web over me”. This is more stuff in the same vein. He is snared. Dead meat, come to think.
"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."

User avatar
Liz
ONBC Moderator
Posts: 12971
Joined: Thu Jun 24, 2004 2:13 pm
Location: The Left Coast

Status: Offline

Unread postby Liz » Fri Nov 30, 2007 2:30 pm

Suec, you always give me so much food for thought that I have to go off and think about it, and think about it, and think about it some more. :-) In fact, I’m still thinking about your Vera post, which I plan on responding to before this discussion is over. I just don’t have my head totally wrapped around it yet.

But back to what you say here. First, I have to say that I really think that Camilla is the subject because I believe (not sure) that he refers to her teeth earlier in the book. “The leer” sounds like Camilla too. I can’t remember if she has long fingers, but I think she was tall. So whoever it is fits the description. So the question for me is: Is she a fantasy, maybe representative of his conscience or is she real?

Second, I think you make a good point about “who cares” signifying his quick change from repentance back to sin.

Third, I like your comparison with Eve. And of course, that would be a very Arturo thing to fall back on…..that it’s the woman’s fault. He picked that up from daddy.

Finally, I need to go back and look at the sexual imagery you are referring to and mull that over a bit. :eyebrow:
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

User avatar
suec
Posts: 1381
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 1:57 pm
Location: uk

Status: Offline

Unread postby suec » Fri Nov 30, 2007 3:27 pm

Suec, you always give me so much food for thought that I have to go off and think about it, and think about it, and think about it some more.


Well, thanks Liz, but it is yours and DIDHOT's questions that give me food for thought in the first place. They really are very thought-provoking, and the last few particularly so. It is why I am often so late in posting an answer and then of course, everyone's amazing posts set me off, and get me thinking some more, which is the joy of the ONBC really.

I’m still thinking about your Vera post, which I plan on responding to before this discussion is over. I just don’t have my head totally wrapped around it yet.


Oh dear. :lol: I say that because I haven't got my head around it yet either. It's a tough question and those were initial thoughts but I'm still puzzling over her.

First, I have to say that I really think that Camilla is the subject because I believe (not sure) that he refers to her teeth earlier in the book. “The leer” sounds like Camilla too.


Fair enough :grin: I guess I was out on a thin limb there and I had forgotten about the teeth.
"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."


Return to “Ask the Dust”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest