Curiosity, Sexuality and Death

Patricia Karam'96 (English 32)

I put the tip of my index finger into the mouth of Mary's hole, and was surprised to discover how inadequate the word was "hole" for what I encountered, for Mary's hole had folds and protuberances and, so it seemed to me, its false and genuine entrances, and -- as I found the true entrance -- it revealed the power of changing its configuration and texture at my touch, of suggesting a moist labyrinth of inwardly twisting, secret passages. The dark curled hairs -- only recently sprouted -- between Mary's thighs, on which at that moment broad Fen sunlight was genially smiling, had, on close inspection, a coppery sheen. I dipped one finger, up to the first, the second knuckle into Mary's hole began to reveal a further power to suck, to ingest; a voracity which made me momentarily hold back. And yet the chief and wondrous power of Mary's hole was its capacity to send waves of sensation not only all over Mary's body, but all over mine; and this not by some process of mental association but by a direct electric current which flowed up my arm, flushed my face and gathered in the part of me to which Mary was simultaneously applying her hand... Mary itched. And that itch of Mary's was the itch of curiosity... Curiosity drove her, beyond all restraint, to want to touch, witness, experience whatever was unknown and hidden from her. Do not smir children. Curiosity, which, with other things, distinguishes us from the animals, is an ingredient of love. Is a vital force. Curiosity, which bogs us down in arduous meditation and can lead to tthe writing of history books, will also, on occasion, as on that afternoon by the Hockwell Lode, reveal to us that which we seldom glimpse unscathed (for it appears more often -- dead bodies, boat hooks -- dressed in terror): the Here and Now.

A sexual encounter, but not a sexual encounter of ordinary sorts.Not only is it sensuous and suggestive, but it is also very insightful.This "discovery process" is especially striking as a result of the powerful imagery, which create a mysterious, silent, and apprehensive mood to match the discoverers' own state of mind.The manner by which, the act develops is interesting; it goes from caution ,to delighted surprise, to exhultation. There is great appeal to the senses: texture ("folds... protuberances... texture... touch... moist... ") and sight ("sunlight...coppery...").The image of the hole sucking is extremely vivid, and in fact, the special quality of this piece is its vividness.

On a more profound level this passage provides additional insight into the two characters and the unfolding of the story. For beneath a seemingly light description of an encounter driven by curiosity lies an omen. These children who live outside of time and history, are unaware of the fact that this experience will be the turning point of their lives. In fact, curiosity prompted by a drive for self-discovery will start a chain of events (death of Freddie Parr, then the discovery of the bottle, the death of Dick, and the breakdown of Mary), and hence fall into time and history. They will flirt with death, and from this scene onwards, there is no more turning back; the clock is set. During such an attack of the Here and Now, the relationship between sexuality and death is enhanced. Mary, will become hardened by the death of Freddie, feeling that her sexual curiosity will have cost the life of another -- thus, after this first death she loses her inquisitive spirit, characteristic of her nature for so long. Curiosity, is a central theme in the novel and is the driving force of progress. Once curiosity ends, then the world is at an end, seems to suggest Tom Crick, the adult. "The world is so arranged that when all things are learnt, when curiosity is exhausted..., that is when the world shall have come to an end."(p.176, Poseidon).

Once Mary loses her curiosity, she is doomed.

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