The CuriousPages Sketchbook

My analysis of: Irresistible Temptation

I had another detailed discussion with Rhyan yesterday, after he had read Irresistible Temptation again. I found it striking that we had a different interpretation of most of the events in the story.

The few similarities are these. He said that he was reminded of Alice in Wonderland when he read the story, and Alice in Wonderland did come to my own mind while writing the story. He also said that the portions where there is dialogue and interaction between the characters, “brings the story to life” (to paraphrase his comment; I think he said that these sections made him more aware of the “reality” of the characters, gave a feel for the flesh and blood—again, paraphrasing; I can’t remember his exact words). And I certainly also feel that this story, and any other story, “comes to life” when there are sections of dialogue. In my story, these sections are often humorous, and this also makes the story much more stimulating for me.

Apart from these similar impressions between us, our interpretations of most of the other events was different, which I find fascinating.

Initially, he said that he did not see the significance of the school exam, when the narrator said that he felt that there was something that he had not been told.

When I wrote those sections, I had in mind the fact that there are many important aspects of life, usually to do with how we interact with other people, that no-one ever tells us about, or instructs us on; we each have to work them out for ourselves as best we can, as we progress through life. This same theme is carried over into “the garden”. When the narrator is attempting to interact romantically with the woman he meets, he finds romance a puzzling language, which no-one has ever told him about (in those instances, he was reminded of that time when he took his first school exam), and when in the boat it is his ineptitude at this type of interaction that causes him so much trouble, particularly when he gives the wrong answer to the woman’s question “Do you find me attractive?” And, so inept is he at this “foreign language” that, from that moment onwards, whatever words he uses with her, she seems to use them as a “weapon to beat him with”. And when his oars are tossed overboard (which oars are the tools he uses to steer his way through life) he finds that those black “fish-like things” keep splashing up and ultimately clinging to him and harming him, to the point where he can take no more of the torture and must flee from the relationship. The black fish-like things are, of course, words. That is, in my interpretation; of course, other readers will have their own interpretation. One of the attractive things about literature, is that each reader constructs the story in his own mind, so when different readers read the same story, each reader will experience a different, and unique, story in their own mind (and their interpretation will be dependent on their own past life and how they have responded to it—which is why each interpretation will be different).

Early on, Rhyan mentioned that he was puzzled about the significance of the garden. In my interpretation, the garden is simply a metaphor for our journey through life. While in the garden, the narrator experiences his working life, and also romantic relationships, and fleetingly glimpses fatherhood, before staggering from the garden, an old man who then cautions other people from entering into the garden.

Rhyan also mentioned his interpretation of the birthday-cake incident, which was also different from mine. In my mind, when the narrator saw the birthday party, he was excited because he had never had a birthday party as a child, so he imagined that the cake was for himself. But when the child said to him: “Thank you, daddy,” the narrator’s “heart sank” because he realized that he was a father and the cake was not for himself, that he had missed that pleasure and would never now experience it.

The train journey, I saw as also representing our journey through life—the fact that we get on and the train rushes along, whisking us through life, to destinations that we have no prior knowledge of or control over.


Writing: Irresistible Temptation (my thoughts on the story's worth immediately after completing it, and before discussing it with Rhyan)

Read the full story here.


15 February 2010


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