Nina autajay's Reviews > The Lover

The Lover by Marguerite Duras
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Mar 11, 2012


This autobiographical narrative is a flash back to her first lover. The author goes back and forth referring to herself as “She” and “I”. “She” may be characterized by the girl she once was; one that, if she had the chance, she would give advice to. Has anyone ever asked you, “If you met yourself 15 years ago, what advice would you give yourself?” Duras says, “He says he’s lonely, horribly lonely because of this love he feels for her. She says she’s lonely too. She doesn’t say why.” She illustrates here an interaction she as with the Chinese man. She was only 15. Although sexually mature for her age, a 15 year old swooped up by a man almost twice her age will not know the context of anything she is feeling. Also, her unstable life does not help with the fact that she does not know how to be receptive.
The author uses “I” where she explains characteristics that have stayed with her for the rest of her life. For instance, in the very beginning, she claims that she aged at a very young age. Duras says, “Very early in my life, it was too late. At eighteen it was already too late. At eighteen I aged. This aging was brutal. This aging, I saw it spread over my features, one by one. Instead of being frightened by it, I saw this aging of my face with the same sort of interest I might have taken for example in the reading of a book. That new face I kept it. It's kept the same contours, but its matter is destroyed. I have a destroyed face. Let me tell you again: I'm fifteen and a half. It's the crossing of a ferry on the Mekong.” She refers to herself as “I” because she explains an aspect of herself that has remained a part of her for her whole life. Although the aging she described may be a metaphor of a situation, that situation may have changed the rest of her life. Maybe it caused her to mature to a stage where she could never go back. What ever happened, it remained a part of her; a part that she could still relate to 45 years later. She refers to her 15 year old self as “I” in the instances that are life changing.
What strength the 15 year old protagonist has. A wealthy gentleman poses no threat to her thick dispassionate skin. Questions go unanswered as to why the protagonist shows no mutual feelings for a man passionately in love with her. Her back ground may give the reader insight. The protagonist is ahead of her own era when she dresses in the gold lamiae heels. She says they made her feel like a woman. She wanted to be a writer but her mother disapproves because it will give her a life of gallivanting only to end up with a life of hardships. Her mother is emotionally unstable because one slowly deteriorates in prolonged dismay. The heat of Vietnam does not come natural to the French and it has taken a toll on her mother. So her mother takes it out on her kids-or at least her daughter- by not being able to show the right way of affection. When the protagonist comes across someone genuinely in love with her, aka the Chinaman, she does not know how to reciprocate that love. Her family life has made her numb, oblivious or even ignorant to affection. The author as obviously gained knowledge from when she experienced everything to when she finished her novel. She refers to herself as a person whom she grew out of, and a person who has made her who she is.
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