Saturday, November 29, 2008

Swann's Way (222-333)


In this section of the novel Swann attends the dinner parties held by Mme. Verdurin. Proust details the parties are we learn more about the budding relationship between Swann and Odette. At one point Odette insists on Swann coming to earlier to the dinner because he usually arrives after the meal. Swann declines and Odette suggests that they have dinner just the two of them. When Swann asks Odette what she will tell Mme. Verdurin if she does not attend Odette tells Swann that she can just lie. Right here is when Swann should have realized than Odette was not an honest person. When she showed him how swiftly she could make up a lie and say that she was or somewhere else or that she had other obligations. He should have realized sooner that all the times they were supposed to meet or she said she wasn’t home she could have, and probably did lie about it. This is an example of Swann’s ignorance. It seems so obvious to the reader that Odette is dishonest and is using Swann just for the salary that he gives her but he is unable to realize that.

            Later on in the text when Odette is knocked over by a scared horse Swann helps her readjust her rumpled dress. She was wearing Cattleyas on her dress and he asked her if he could fix them for her. He had to touch her bodice to fix the flower but was so awkward about it. He kept asking her a million questions like: Is this okay, is it uncomfortable, is it bothering you, can I do this, am I annoying you? Odette handled this awkward moment well by just smiling and politely shrugging her shoulders. In this scene Swann makes himself look insane and acts as if he has never touched or spoken to a women before. For a character that is notorious for being a bit of a ladies man, he sure seems to go about it like he has never done it before. He is awkward and continues to be awkward throughout the relationship.

            The rest of this section continues with dinner party conversation and then a private conversation about Swann, Forcheville and Odette that happens between Mme. Verdurin and her husband. M. Forcheville blatantly states that he thinks Swann is stupid. Mme. Verdurin chimes in that she thinks that Odette prefers Forcheville anyway and that he is a better choice for her. She says that Swann is not direct and is cunning. He is always between ideas and that is just the opposite of Forcheville, who is straightforward and tells you the truth.

            What is interesting to me is that Mme. Verdurin picks up on the image that Swann tries to create for himself. She can tell that he is looking to keep a name and impress people with what he does and who he knows. She refers to him as a society man and I feel the exact same way about him that she does. I can see right through Swann and I don’t know why more characters can’t.   



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