By Don Adams (auth.)
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Copperfield’s successful acknowledgment of her lesbian identity. Rather Sadie’s obsessive attachment to her older sister, like Mrs. Copperfield’s relationship with Pacifica, is symptomatic of a need for comfort and of an unwillingness to embark upon the quest to make contact with an ultimate reality. That the potential romantic nature of Sadie’s obsession is taboo merely classifies it more readily with other “sins” that are in reality effects of a more fundamental cause. As Weil writes, “It is not the pursuit of pleasure and the aversion for efforts which causes sin, but fear of God” (Gravity 58).
Self-expressive and haranguing monologue-speeches such as this— some in letters, some in person—are staples of Bowles’ fiction and are one of its most evident allegorical characteristics. Allegorical figures typically present themselves didactically, through both word and deed, and implicitly and explicitly argue for their viewpoint, which—for quest figures— ultimately concerns the pursuit and fulfillment of their destiny. Anything that hinders or thwarts them in that quest is an enemy that must be overcome, including their own nature when it is all too human.
In one of her notebooks, Weil listed “superposed readings” that imply an allegorical understanding of existence: “To read necessity behind sensation, to read order behind necessity, to read God behind order” (Gravity 136). The distance between the things of this world and the world above is “the distance between the necessary and the good” (Gravity 105). When, in our spiritual journey, we arrive at the point at which we can perceive the good in the necessary, we do not thereby annihilate necessity (it is precisely that which cannot be annihilated), but we come to understand that its importance resides entirely in its relation to what it is not.
Alternative Paradigms of Literary Realism by Don Adams (auth.)