Date: 2009-03-09 01:22 am (UTC)
Hi! [livejournal.com profile] diceytillerman sent me here, because she knows I just finished reading this book.

I do see completely what you mean, and I had uncomfortable moments reading the book as well. However, I do have a dissenting opinion to offer, because the end turned everything around for me. I guess the big difference between my interpretation and yours and that I didn't see Irial as her rapist. To clarify, I *did* see that he raped her psychologically and emotionally, "drugging" her, so that when they did have sex, that was physical rape, too. But what I mean is, he had a different significance for me in the book. To me, he represented the numbness of addiction / denial that Leslie sought because she couldn't bear to feel the pain of having been raped by Ren's friends. He was less a character to me and more the metaphor for Leslie's need to escape; her wish to die; her choice of darkness and despair, rather than life, survival, recovery. Therefore, at the end, when she still cared for him, it didn't bother me the way I think it bothered you, because to me, her caring was less caring for a horrible person, and more a new understanding of her pain and how she'd dealt with it. Her caring was caring for her own feelings and behavior -- for emotions she had that she couldn't have helped having, and for behavior that had hurt her but that she could forgive herself for now. I don't know if I'm making any sense at all here. For me, Irial had so much metaphorical power (as a natural self-destructive step in her reaction to being raped by Ren's friends) that I was less bothered by his less metaphorical significance. And perhaps more impressed by her ability to reject feelinglessness, and choose life, even though it also meant facing her pain.

I was also icked out by the enforced strip-show with Niall and Irial, but it was powerful to me that Leslie more or less said "Go away, goodbye, I want a life without you" to both of them. "I want to build my own life, and there's no place for you in that life." At a certain point, I began to feel that all the awful, icky manipulation and so on was realistic to our world, and that's why it was in the book. It was horrible, but it was true. Leslie really was a lost soul in a horrible world.

Again, I appreciate your interpretation, and it's one of the things that fascinates me about the book -- it's complicated and tricky and can be looked at from a lot of angles. I hope I've made sense here. I came away from the book loving it and eager to talk about it -- eager for the people I trust to read it and tell me what they thought.
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April 2009

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