Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Clothing as safety for Querelle and the Narrator

OK, I'm sure we've all noticed it... there is a lot of mention of clothing, and in quite detail as well.

The line that I thinks sums it all up goes something like, "He had on;y to give the slightest turn of the head, to the left or right, to feel his cheek rub against the stiff, upturned collar of his peacoat. This contact reassured him. By it, he knew himself to be clothed, marvelously clothed" (15).

I think this really gets at something about the clothes. They really sem to be a reasuring thing for both Querelle and the narrator. Querelle notices the clothes that people are wearing with great detail, and the narrator notices Querelle noticing and notices himslelf, atleast enough to comment onit.

Let's go on a quick trip... we wont go for the whole ride, just a short part of it to show you what I mean...

Pg 3- "the man who dons a sailor's outfit" (line 9)
"His disguise" (line 10)
Pg 4- "in the tight fit of his sweater, in the amplitude of his bell-bottoms." (lines 11-12)
Pg 7- "cotton clothes- open shirt and denims" (line 2)
"their wide collars, the pompoms on their hats" (lines 13-14)
Pg 12- "pair of gloves" (line 14 of section 2)
"the blue denim pants" (line 1 section 3)
"highly polished black shoes" (lines 3-4 section 3)
"turtleneck jersey of white" (line6 section 3)
Pg 13- "the other remaining in the pocket of his peacoat" (5th and 6th lines from the bottom)
Pg 14- "buttoning his peacoat, turning up the collar." (lines 11-12)
"train of a robe, adorned with lace, with crests" (lines23-24)
Pg 15- previously quoted end of first paragraph
"taking off his shoes" (line 14)
"his socks" (line 25)
"a slip, a bra, shoelaces, a hankerchief" (line 30)
Pg 16- "full-dress gaiters" (line 2)
"elegant but poorly tailored pants" (lines 3-4)
"a filthy handkerchief; socks with holes in them" (lines 4-5)
"his other sock" (line 16)

I'm going to say that is enough for now...
I hope you got the point. There hasn't been too much reference to clothing in the works we have read so far. There has been tiny bits here and there, but certainly not like this.

It is also stated clearly that Querelle feels safe knowing that his clothes are on, and not just any clothes, but good clothes that fit well, make him look nice and belonged to a sailor?
AND, I must point out that the momento he took after each murder was an item of clothing. It is listed that it was always something that the victim was wearing and could easily incriminate him.

Now, for my next topic (and you thought I was done, hah):
The narrator seems to switch back and forth the way he talks about Querelle. Sometimes he refers to him by his name, sometimes he says "the sailor" and sometimes he says the man.
What are we supposed to take from this change? I would like to have something insightful to insist this means, but I really have no idea. Maybe it is the translation and maybe it will become clear as we read further on, but if anyone has any ideas, please do share.


Erin said...

I didn't make the connections with clothes, esp. the peacoat until you mentioned it. When Querelle kills Vic he mentions that the blood is kept from spurting out by his peacoat.

Another sailor always has dirty clothes, wearing the stains of his conquests as medals.

mel said...

I think this follows a bit what Amanda said, the clothing seems to act like costumes. All these individuals lying to themselves must construct a facade to hide their true nature to the world. The sailor uniform in particular denotes a certain youthfulness and virility as well as an honorable status is post WWII France. Although, I must say Navy sailors do carry a stereotype now regarding their sexuality. I'm unsure if this was true then, though, this book would support that stereotype.

Nora Kitchen said...

Tell someone you were reading an novel about a gay guy who talks about his clothes all the time...and they'd probably get a completely wrong impression of this book. ^_^

Nice catch on the memento always being clothing! I was noticing the clothing a lot, but I didn't pick up on that at all. Hard to think how that plays into it, though...