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Relativity of Space The Lover by Marguerite Duras

The notion of space in the novel may be characterized through the different emotions felt by the different places in which the two lovers meet. These spaces in the story are literal representations of the difference of emotions and perspectives as well as the culture that inhibits their behavior. These spaces are divided into three; the external, internal, and the moot point.

Each space contributes to the formation of the two lovers, first through an identification of extreme and ironic opposites then the culmination of both experience through a social-sexual rebellion, and finally the realization of the relationship outside the spatial context of the story. On one hand, Duras’ character lives in extreme poverty and familial dysfunction and the narration of the story implies a tone of aloofness or indifference.

The tone is identified as a surrender or defeat over her prevailing conditions, that the motivation to break away from her unhappy life is already withdrawn. Her nature is more carefree and willing, uninhibited by herself only prejudiced by society. On the other hand, the persona of the young Chinese man is of the same essence but physically different. The man, in contrast, grows up in a rich family where every material need is provided but culture and tradition become determinant factors in his upbringing that takes away his own personal choices while he begrudgingly follows tradition.

This is the common concept of the authority of tradition with the Chinese society where the will of the parents must be strictly followed, especially on marriage and relationships. Thus, the two live in complete paradox and the internal factor of space or the room where they make love, is the main reciprocation of their irrational behavior; a place to release all tension as well as an escape from their respective realities. The garconniere becomes a place where none of the judging eyes of society interfere with their actions.

This space reflects freedom on their part exemplified through their sexual explorations. The outside world (the school, home, and the boarding house) represents the noise and the literal transformation of the oppressive culture and society. These social institutions are the main causes of dread and suffering for both characters as well as the delimitation of their freedom which eventually cause the formation their relationship. The forbidden or the internal is represented with the room that two lovers make love.

The room distinguishes the nature of their relationship through the factors of pleasure, sex, and the forbidden. The relationship is in itself forbidden by society and the young man’s family, thus the prejudice formed through such judgment purports fear. Yet this fear remains as a positive motivator rather than a degrading one; they enter the relationship with fear but the pleasure they experience rids them of any emotions apart from pleasure itself.

Consequently, irrational pleasure through sex becomes an alternate reality for both, cultivating their freedom and happiness away from the opposite lives they lead. The space creates bliss which does not need explanation, only the sensation itself is important. To provide explanation means that they have to reinsert their selves again in an unwanted reality. The combination of the both leads to a separate experience distinct from the ‘space’ or reality given in the story through an affirmation of pleasure bereft of the usual distinctions of love.

The real relationship comes later as the alternate space that the two lovers create combines both their indifference but this time is redirected toward a society that is harsh and does not accept. The unification of their bodies is a symbolization of both their lives which at first is clouded by their senses but they eventually realize the ‘real’ love for the other after a period of separation Love eventually comes in the end, and functions as the moot point space of the story acts as both characters realize the cruel and tragic relationship they had back then and how it leads to love.

But both cannot be together since their separation had already formed their lives. Space, in the context of the story becomes relative to the different experiences and emotions felt by the characters. It is a representation of the extreme emotions they try to convey away from a harsh reality. Reference List 1. Duras M. The Lover. Trans Barbara Bay. New York, USA: Pantheon Books 1997.

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