LITERATURE: Tropic of Cancer – Some Indication of Character

Miller’s character has been one filled with low regard for women–notwithstanding the obvious explanation that he is hanging out with whores.  But there is a subtle empathy here:

When I listen to the reproaches that are leveled against a girl like Lucienne, when I hear her being denigrated or despised because she is cold and mercenary, because she is too mechanical, or because she’s in too great a hurry, or ecause this or because that, I say to myself, hold on there bozo, not so fast!  Remember that you’re far back in the procession; remember that a whole army corp has laid siege to her, that she’s been laid waste, plundered and pillaged. (p. 160)

I think that this ’empathy’ begins only out of seeing how much worse his fellow friends hold whores in their regard that brings the narrator on the other side, even for an instant.  It is not quite enough for me to begin to like him.  There is no real dislike of the character (based upon Miller’s own), and yet he comes off a bit flat with random ravings on the philosophical state of mankind.  It is for me a trial to listen to him; a young know-it-all who thinks he is in the hub of life because it is the backstreets of Paris he scrounges.  Yet this writer does not write–except about himself it would seem, and his friends.  To be poor in Paris is romantic; to be poor elsewhere is to be hard up.

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