The Blind Man by D.H. Lawrence, 1920
The magic trick:
Repeating the descriptions of characters throughout the story
Lawrence sets this story up as a battle royale between Maurice and his wife’s longtime friend. The key to the comparison/contrast lies in the description. We get fairly vivid physical descriptions of both men at the outset, and then the descriptions keep on coming. It’s the repetitions that really stand out. I’m not used to an author embracing the the idea of saying the same thing about characters over and over, but here we get the same adjectives for each men repeated several times, often in the same paragraph. The effect isn’t mind-numbing or boring. It firmly established both men in the reader’s mind. And that’s quite a trick on Lawrence’s part.
They moved away. Pervin heard no more. But a childish sense of desolation had come over him, as he heard their brisk voices. He seemed shut out–like a child that is left out. He was aimless and excluded, he did not know what to do with himself. The helpless desolation came over him. He fumbled nervously as he dressed himself, in a state almost of childishness. He disliked the Scotch accent in Bertie’s speech, and the slight response it found on Isabel’s tongue. He disliked the slight purr of complacency in the Scottish speech. He disliked intensely the glib way in which Isabel spoke of their happiness and nearness. It made him recoil. He was fretful and beside himself like a child, he had almost a childish nostalgia to be included in the life circle. And at the same time he was a man, dark and powerful and infuriated by his own weakness. By some fatal flaw, he could not be by himself, he had to depend on the support of another. And this very dependence enraged him. He hated Bertie Reid, and at the same time he knew the hatred was nonsense, he knew it was the outcome of his own weakness.
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