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IN SEARCH OF LOST CAREGIVERS: GENDER, SEXUALITY AND THE BODY IN PROUST'S RECHERCHE BY EMILY ADAMS A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Ar ts Under the sponsorship of Dr. Jocelyn Van Tuyl Sarasota, Florida May, 2012
ii Acknowledgements I would like to thank my sponsor Professor Jocelyn Van Tuyl very much for believing that I could even grapple with this novel in the f irst place. Her guidance has been entirely integral to my experience and has helped me find my way out of a lot of dead ends and dark corners. Without her help, my thesis would have ended a page ago. I would also like to thank my committee members for r eading this. The other members of my panel, Dr. Amy Reid and Dr. Andrea Dimino have both been present and important influences in my time at New College and have helped shape my understanding of several key issues concerning works crucial to the developmen t of this thesis. I would also like to thank my friends, especially Josh Scheible, Zo Rayor, Jessa Baker Moss, Julie Lado, Caegan Quimby, Zach Eidelman, Bre Gregg, Emile Mausner and Arielle Scherr who have all helped me through a difficult personal jou rney year or edited this thesis in some way. Without them, this project would not have survived. Finally, and importantly, my mom, dad, sister and brother who have always let me do whatever I can imagine and have provided me with numerous involuntary me mories throughout this process. I love you until the end of Time.
iii Table of Contents Acknowledgements............................................................................................................. .ii Table of Contents............................................................................................................ ....iii Abstract.............................................................................................................. .................iv Introduction................................................................................................................. .........1 Chapter One: Exploring Gender Roles throughout Pseudo Marcel's Illness and Youth in La recherche.. ..................................................................................................................... 18 Chapter Two: When Caregivers are Lost: Behavioral Changes and Fractured Identities of the Declining Caregivers......................... ...........................................................................37 Conclusion................................................................................................................... ......59 Works Cited............................... ........................................................................................74
iv IN SEARCH OF LOST CAREGIVERS: GENDER, SEXUALITY AND THE BODY IN PROUST'S RECHERCHE Emily Adams New College of Florida, 2012 Abstract Throughout Marcel Proust's la recherche du temps perdu the narrator protagonist Pseudo Marcel suffers from debilitating medical issues which prompt him to rely on the aid of others for survival and comfort. These illnesses are combated by two charac ters who emerge as his primary caregivers Pseudo Marcel's grandmother and his aristocratic friend Robert de Saint Loup. Going beyond the extensive published analysis of Pseudo Marcel's illness, this thesis closely examines the issues of gender and sexualit y raised by the caregiving relationship. The first chapter demonstrates how Pseudo Marcel constructs positive and idealized types of masculinity or femininity, creating an image of a maternal feminine figure divorced from sexual tension with the grandmothe r and a masculine figure capable of performing within the context of the intimate caregiving setting with Saint Loup. The second chapter argues that when these caregivers are no longer capable of providing care for the narrator protagonist, their gendered constructions are undermined and Pseudo Marcel splits these characters' new selves from their former identities. A concluding chapter explores Pseudo Marcel's reflections on the caregiving characters after they have died, focusing on his attempts to integr ate the caregiving and post caregiving identities that he constructed during their lifetimes. This examination of
v the caregiving relationship raises larger questions about gender, sexuality and the body in Proust's novel and in the late nineteenth to e arly twentieth century European society. Professor Jocelyn Van Tuyl
6 Introduction Building on contemporary theories of gender, illness and the body, this thesis will analyze Marcel Proust's treatment of two caregivers th roughout the novel la recherche du temps perdu. Proust's sickly narrator protagonist known as Pseudo Marcel has two primary caregivers: his grandmother and his best friend Robert de Saint Loup. These characters present two images of constructions of gend er and sexuality related to the deterioration and eventual division of the self through physical disease or complications of gender and sexuality. Saint Loup and the grandmother are linked through their acts of caregiving and the similarity of their relati onships to Pseudo Marcel. Eventually the caregivers are overcome by their own complications and, consequently, are unable to perform their acts of caregiving for the sickly narrator protagonist. Due to their eventual deterioration, both characters undergo a form of physical splitting or a disassociation with their former roles as caregivers in Pseudo Marcel's narrative. This thesis will demonstrate the narrator protagonist's evaluations of their respective gender roles and the differences in his interpretat ions and analysis of their actions throughout the caregiving process. Following their caregiving phases, both characters suffer a marked decline. The grandmother endures a purely physical decline, the result of a stroke, whereas Saint Loup suffers from bo th a perceived social and moral decline due to his revealed homosexual tendencies. This analysis will look closely at the tensions present in Pseudo Marcel's interpretations of the individual caregiving and declines that Saint Loup and the grandmother offe r in the novel and his reflections on their caretaking and declines after
7 their respective deaths. In part, it will support the idea that Proust's narrator allows subversion of gender roles in the actions of the caregivers throughout the earli er portions of the novel. Yet it will also display the fact that Pseudo Marcel, in his final evaluations, is unable to have a favorable viewpoint on homosexuality when it directly affects his personal relationships and the caregiving he receives. In each i nstance the role of caretaking is essential to Pseudo Marcel's conceptualization of both of the caregivers' identities. The centrality of caregiving as an immutable identity during their self sacrificial acts, followed by the lack of caregiving each charac ter is able to accomplish as La recherche progresses, marks their individual declines or divisions in a sexual, social or physical way. Textual Introduction and Background Marcel Proust's la recherche du temps perdu is a seven volume work of French fi ction published serially between the years of 1913 and 1927. La recherche often garners acclaim as one of the great works of both French and modernist fiction. Proust's novel is a semi autobiographical K nstlerroman centering on the narrator protagonist of ten conflation with the author. The seven volumes trace Pseudo Marcel's life from his youth through his middle age, centering on his movement through different social settin gs, his desire to become a great author, and his difficulties performing the writing process. In the last volume, Time Regained Pseudo Marcel realizes that the experiences he has previously relayed to the reader are suitable material for a great work of f iction, and the
8 novel comes to a close with the narrator beginning the process of writing presumably the book that was just read giving the work a cyclical aspect. Even on the most detailed level, La recherche goes through cycles, displaying themes or motifs that occur repeatedly in different characters or plot lines. The novel plays with the concepts of time, memory and habit as the narrator pieces together the story of his life, relaying it through the lens of his older age often by way of revelations sparked by involuntary memory. Proust displays a vast social panorama in his work as Pseudo Marcel meets and forms relationships with all manner of people from servants to members of the aristocracy, to artists, to members of the bourgeoisie. T he work spans the turn of the twentieth century including the First World War and incorporates a great deal of social commentary on politics, art, nature, sexuality, life and death. Pseudo Marcel ushers the reader through this complex world while gaining a wareness of and then critically analyzing several different social situations. The novel often presents several characters who are mirror images of other characters in the text, and who befall a similar fate that has already been presented in earlier volum es. This comparison is often drawn between Charles Swann, the namesake of Un Amour de Swann and Pseudo Marcel. Both characters deal with extreme health and romantic complications, but the tableau of Swann's difficulties is introduced in the text as a prec ursor to the birth of the narrator, told in hindsight from Pseudo Marcel's middle age. This thesis will rely on such a mirroring comparison between the grandmother and Saint Loup, a comparison that is rarely explored. This pairing relies on their mutually shared roles in Pseudo Marcel's needs and their similar downfalls.
9 Pseudo Marcel has a mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, and several secondary family members such as aunts and uncles who are an integral part of his life throughout t he first several volumes. He is also constantly surrounded by servants and his family often hosts dinners as they are part of the growing bourgeoisie. The novel highlights various modes of social movement and the importance of social mobility in turn of t he century France. The narrator protagonist also goes through a few different romantic relationships in which he details the exceptional emotions of love, his first sexual experience and the difficulties of losing a lover. None of his attempts at finding a partner are successful for long, typically due to his intense jealousy, and at the end of the novel Pseudo Marcel remains unmarried and alone. These love relationships span from his early childhood, in which he meets Gilberte, the daughter of Swann (a pro totype of Marcel), all the way up through his young adulthood where he falls in love with and holds captive Albertine Simonet, a woman who is suspected to have been involved in lesbian relationships. Although the narrator is sickly, and weak, and often doe s not fit well with the other definitions of masculinity presented throughout the novel, he is one of characters are eventually outed. Pseudo Marcel is occasionally ver y critical of homosexuals although Proust himself was suspected of engaging in homosexual relationships. Illness in Proust's Life and Work A central theme of Proust's work is illness, as Pseudo Marcel, the protagonist, is
10 diagnosed at a youn and other aspects of his physical self. Throughout the work, Pseudo Marcel is constantly held back, or his plans are changed, due to this debilitating sickness. As a youth, Pseudo Marcel is visited by several doctors and is often sent to different places for fresh air, eating or drinking special diets, or prohibited from engaging in anything too exciting for fear that it will prompt a bout of nerves. When his friends enlist in the war effo rts, Pseudo Marcel is left behind; when his other friends are making great works of art, he is too troubled by his condition. He is even discouraged from attending theatre productions as a youth due to the excitement the drama could elicit, thereby trigger ing a nervous episode. Growing from a delicate youth into a delicate and frail man, Pseudo Marcel must constantly rely on the caregiving of those who surround him. Due to its limiting abilities, illness takes a front row seat in the plot action of La reche rche and dominates not only the plot of the narrator protagonist's life, but also the story lines of various secondary characters. The very first glimpse of Combray, a place dear to the narrator in his childhood, centers on the plot of Pseudo Marcel's bed confined aunt L onie, who has voluntarily put herself on house arrest after the death of her husband, Octave. Several artists whom the narrator holds in high esteem succumb to fatal illnesses and many acquaintances, friends and lovers of Pseudo Marcel mee t untimely or illness related deaths. Proust's final volume includes a grim analysis of the declines of many characters and the illnesses they have incurred throughout the body of the work. It is not surprising that La recherche which is often thought to be autobiographical, shows such an obsession with illness as it was a well known
11 complicating factor in the life of Proust himself. As Bernard Straus puts it in his book Maladies of Marcel Proust: Doctors and Disease in his Life and Work oust had a personal interest in disease, emotional disorders, and death for a number of reasons. These include his invalidism, his many diseases, and the social and professional t was sick. He suffered from a whole host of illnesses ranging from bronchial asthma to neurasthenia (a nervous disorder) to gastric troubles to headaches and fevers, all of which left him in a state of extreme exhaustion. He was allergic to pollens in flo wers, highly sensitive to noise which prompted him to continually wear ear plugs and was known to be a hypochondriac who developed a deathly fear of doctors and believed that he had a brain tumor throughout most of his life. His fear of doctors is certainl y interesting as both his father and his brother were esteemed medical doctors in France throughout Proust's lifetime (2 5). Often Proust's issues would compound. While wearing earplugs to block out harmful sounds he developed a serious ear infection tha t lasted for a good portion of his life. Proust was also a great believer in prescriptions and home remedies, treating his maladies with various drugs, some of which were illegal or made illegal during the twentieth century. After leading a sickly life out in public throughout his young adulthood, Proust gradually became distant from his social sphere and wrote much of La recherche holed up in a cork lined room which would prevent sounds or smells from passing through the walls (2 5). Throughout La recherch e illness infects and prompts many memories and experiences. The impetus for the Proustian narrator's first bout of
12 involuntary memory comes in the form of a madeline dipped in tisane, which Pseudo Marcel recalls eating with his sickly aunt as part of the invalid's routine. Diagnosis was also an interesting subject for the author, who characterized doctors and illness in La recherche and also label Proust' s commentary as scientific, precise, practically clinical. In his article on Pseudo Marcel's habits in speaking and evaluation, Jack Murray states: portraying a character are similar to those a physician might employ in forming a Straus bolsters the importance of diagnosis and aid in the work by quoting Proust directly as saying: Although Proust never wrote a book specifically about doctors, La recherche demonstrates the author's fixation on medicine, illness and care, which suggest that Proust may have drawn material from his own personal struggles. J.E. Rivers links Proust's inclination toward positing that Proust sought to emulate the scientific approach of observation and description practiced by figures such as mile Zola (Rivers 154) Thus, not only was Proust constantly inundated with medical jargon, practices and prescriptions in his per sonal life, but medicalization in literature was already on the rise. An Introduction to Pseudo Marcel's caregivers Although much work has been done on the concept of illness (especially Pseudo Marcel's illness) and doctors throughout Proust's work, ver y little has focused on Pseudo
13 Marcel's caretakers. These individuals are necessary both to the plot and to Pseudo Marcel, as he is unable to care for himself and is continually in need of aid. Throughout the work, two characters most notably take on the role of the narrator's caregivers: his grandmother and his closest friend, Robert de Saint Loup. Pseudo Marcel presents his grandmother as an idealized vision of maternal support and love. Throughout the novel, the grandmother constantly pr ovides care not only for Pseudo Marcel, but also for other family members. She is characterized primarily as a caregiver, and even in the face of her own troubles, Pseudo Marcel's grandmother takes great pains to deliver her loved ones from their personal (often physical) problems. This is most evident during her own illness and decline, when she is so concerned about allaying the fears of Pseudo Marcel and those of his mother (her daughter) that she attempts to hide the effects of a stroke she suffers. Eve n when her family fears for her death, Pseudo Marcel's grandmother conceals her own illness and turns her attention to the family. Although the grandmother is available as a source of aid for other characters of the novel, Pseudo Marcel stands as her most important commitment, and his needs constitute the basis for many of her actions throughout the course of her lifetime. Robert de Saint Loup is Pseudo Marcel's other caregiver, and as a character he presents an interesting perspective on the role of careg iving. Saint Loup is one of Pseudo Marcel's first male companions, and certainly the only one that he gets along well with throughout the novel. The narrator meets Saint Loup while they are both in their teens or early twenties (age is a very nebulous fac tor in La recherche) and they proceed to form a
14 friendship based largely around Pseudo Marcel's needs and illness. Robert is showcased as embodying everything that Pseudo Marcel sees as the masculine ideal: he is a charming, strong, handsome, well dressed member of the aristocracy. Many passages surrounding Saint Loup at the outset of their friendship involve Pseudo Marcel commenting on the extreme virility of his male caregiver. However, in Proust's work caretaking is often reserved solely f or the maternal figures or female characters. Therefore this thesis will look closely at the exceptionality of Saint Loup in a number of ways specifically linked to his subversion of normative gender roles as defined by Proust's novel. Although these car egivers embody idealized versions of particular types of masculinity and femininity over the course of their caregiving years, both the grandmother and Saint Loup experience a dramatic decline in their statuses. Themes of illness, gender, the body and sexu al identity offer a basis for decoding the breakdown of these caregiving roles. La recherche, in its early volumes, presents in the grandmother and Saint Loup two characters who share a similar relationship with the narrator based exclusively around their acts of caregiving. Both of these caregivers exhibit uncomplicated visions of sexuality and gender throughout the duration of their caregiving years as constructed by Pseudo Marcel's narrative lens. During this period, Pseudo Marcel frequently divorces the caregivers from any social roles they may fill which are not directly linked to addressing his many needs. Often, the narrator offers excuses or denies evidence concerning any behaviors that suggest that the characters carry out lives filled with sexual, social, or physical activity unlinked to his care. The identities of the
15 grandmother and Saint Loup are then constructed solely around the caregiving position. From Pseudo Marcel's perspective, the grandmother serves as an idealized example of unconditional desexualized love, which is often denied by the narrator's mother. While Pseudo Marcel's relationship with his mother appears somewhat sexually charged, sexuality is a non existent part of the grandmother's identity for Pseudo Marcel. How ever, her feminine maternal body is often foregrounded in the text as a source of comfort for the narrator. The grandmother continues filling the role of Pseudo Marcel's maternal caregiver until she becomes too ill to even lift her own head from her deathb ed pillow. In the midst of the long and drawn out suffering that the grandmother endures throughout the scenes leading up to her death, Pseudo Marcel is forced to reconstruct the grandmother's identity which was previously based singularly around her mate rnal caregiving relationship to him. Throughout these passages, Pseudo Marcel presents a harsh, and even dehumanizing, evaluation of his grandmother's new identity while reflecting on the issues that arise for himself as a result of her inabilities. Pse udo Marcel's friend Robert de Saint Loup presents another angle on the narrator's need for affection and care. Instead of being desexualized during his caregiving years, Saint Loup has many mistresses throughout the novel and marries Pseudo Marcel's first love, Gilberte. The male caregiver exhibits a high level of heteronormativity in the romantic and social relationships he forms. Similar to the grandmother's decline through her physical illness, the caregiving process is interrupted when Pseudo Marcel dis covers that Saint Loup has engaged in homosexual acts. In light of this discovery, Saint Loup's status as an ideal masculine figure is undermined, and his emergent inefficiencies as a
16 caretaker are highlighted through Pseudo Marcel's commentar y on the character's failure to care for his wife Gilberte. Amidst his homosexual status in Proust's society, Saint Loup disappears from the text for extensive periods, only to resurface as a more self involved character who no longer asks after the narra tor's health or well being. In this thesis, I perform a comparative analysis of these two characters who fill an analogous role for the narrator and who experience declines in the roles that Pseudo Marcel originally constructs for them. A comparison betwee n these two characters may seem unconventional at first, yet the mutability of sexual identity in Proust's work, as well as his narrator's static and confident insistence of his heterosexuality, produce tensions between gender, sexuality and the body for n early all other characters except the caregivers during the height of their activity. Sexuality, Gender and the Body at the Turn of the Century A potential explanation for the strong and complicated presence of the themes of gender, sexuality and the bo dy in La recherche lies in the fact that these fields were highly controversial yet popular topics of conversation during the time of Proust's writing. At the turn of the twentieth century, those who shared their reflections on these topics were under a gr eat deal of critical scrutiny. Marcel Proust was born on July 10, 1871 and died November 18, 1922 (Straus 5). During these years a growing population of individuals began aggressively creating and then questioning structures surrounding gender and sexualit y. The increase in dialogue on the subject occasionally created more confining structures, resulting in a turn toward a more clinical and categorized
17 understanding of sexuality. Throughout this period of contention much discussion centered o n defining the newly constructed figure of the homosexual. Instead of sexuality existing as series of desires exhibited by an individual, sexual desires became connected ng aspects of femininity in male bodied individuals who engaged in same sex practices. This notion of inversion meant that society was defining homosexuals as members of the gender opposite to their biological sex (Halperin 92 93). Homosexual men were seen as bodied individuals. The newly fashioned homosexual identity was casted in a less than positive light, as much discussion suggested that homosexuals posed a threat to the p rogress of the state and undermined existing familial structures (Foucault 24). In her article on the physical and moral splitting of the homosexual in late came to b e seen as incomplete hermaphrodites, condemned to a life of imposture and an illicit multiplication of identities, in particular as a result of cross Individuals were reassigned to the opposite gender, although they were never seen as truly capable of embodying all of the aspects of the gender they were reassigned to. As this thesis will demonstrate, Pseudo Marcel goes through the process of dividing and dissecting Saint Loup after he discovers Saint Loup's homosexual tendencies. Th e turn of the 20 th century also saw a gradual shift from the social realm to the an article written much later than La recherche with an eye towards a theory of the histor ical
18 progression of constructions of sexuality, Michel Foucault describes a shift in the discussion of homosexuality from terms of confession, with religious and social undertones, to discussing sexuality as something to be analyzed and diagno sed discourse of truth concerning themselves, a discourse which had to model itself after that which spoke, not of sin and salvation, but of bodies and life processes th e discourse of malady or physical disturbance to which the nineteenth century did not impute at least From this, one can see that those who identified as homosexual were viewed as having a physical disturbance separating them from the newly established norm, but also that those who experienced physical disturbances could potentially be viewed as having an underlying complication with their sexuality. I n deemed incomplete, physically inadequate or morally bankrupt. Sexua lity, Illness and the Body in Proust's Novel Proust's novel incorporates a great deal of commentary on both homosexuality and medicine, but the combinations of these complicating social factors are more intricate than simply the linking of homosexuality a nd disease. Proust's Pseudo Marcel is one of the sickliest, most bodily challenged characters throughout the entire work, yet he never engages in homosexual activities. Although he is fascinated (and at times horrified) by
19 the concept and cons tantly surrounded by individuals who are known to have homosexual tendencies, such as his mistress Albertine, Pseudo Marcel is never associated with this form of sexuality that runs rampant in La recherche. Virtually every character outside of Pseudo Mar cel's immediate family, from his female lovers to his acquaintances, is suspected at one point or another of having engaged in sexual activity with a same sex partner. Where sexuality and diagnosis meet for Foucault is where La recherche follows the proced ure of making the homosexual ill, inadequate or socially less able. This process manifests itself in a number of ways throughout the novel. Homosexuals succumb to their e sexual tendencies, and therefore, their masked gender or sexuality emerges. Those who are discovered as homosexuals in the middle to late volumes of the novel seem to immediately fall into a downward spiral of illness or moral and social decay. Consider ing this information and the current in modernist literature relating homosexuality and physical illness, or marked social decay, Proust's work challenges some of these concepts in unconventional ways and reinforces them in others. His treatment of the gra ndmother figure stands as one of the most prominent (and potentially the singular) non sexualized female roles throughout the novel and Pseudo Marcel's vision of Saint Loup goes unequalled in terms of the masculine ideal which eventually transmutes for the narrator into a more grim and disturbing look at the sexual tendencies of his best friend. Proust's novel also supports some of the aforementioned links between sexuality and the body, or physical inversion through homosexuality. In order to display Prous t's treatment of gender, sexuality and the medicalization and social aspects of these
20 two subjects in conjunction with the theoretical works considered, this thesis will showcase two characters who fill similar roles for Pseudo Marcel his car egivers, the grandmother and Saint Loup and their respective declines from the perspective of Pseudo Marcel's narrative voice over the course of La recherche. This thesis will trace three stages of Pseudo Marcel's relationships with his caregivers: the ini tial phase in which he is dependent upon the grandmother and Saint Loup for care, the phase of deterioration in which the caregivers experience their own difficulties and cannot aid Pseudo Marcel, and Pseudo Marcel's final reflections on the caregivers aft er their respective deaths. The first chapter will center on Pseudo Marcel's ability to assign his grandmother a maternal and also subservient role in caregiving, while granting Saint Loup a form of masculinity through caregiving. This chapter will pay much attention to the language used to describe the grandmother and Saint Loup and the differences in Pseudo Marcel's interpretations of their caregiving versus the parallel acts of care that they complete for the narrator. The second chapter will begin wi th the grandmother's decline in her ability to engage with Pseudo Marcel and take care of him. This begins with her physical deterioration and bodily illness. Saint Loup, however, loses his ability to perform Pseudo Marcel's caregiving after the narrator's discovery of Saint Loup's homosexuality. In both instances of decline and inability on the part of each caretaker, Pseudo Marcel begins the process of divorcing the character from their aiding self. Both the grandmother and Saint Loup are bodily divided from Pseudo Marcel's perspective and their relationships with him change due to their respective declines in Pseudo
21 Marcel's eyes. Just as the grandmother's diagnosis and decline influence the way that Pseudo Marcel is able to conceptualize her as a singular and unified person, and to reconcile the past caregiving grandmother with the present ailing body, so does Saint Loup's discovered homosexuality distance Pseudo Marcel from Saint Loup as caregiver, moving him to split the character into a version of the man woman or to simply view him as a good caregiver and friend turned bad. Although Pseudo Marcel does see a fission in the homosexual character, this fission is also presented in the most desexualized, maternal character the grandmother i n the novel, chronologically occurring before Pseudo Marcel's splitting of Saint Loup is enacted on the grounds of Saint Loup's homosexuality. The final chapter will deal with Pseudo Marcel's reflections on his grandmother and Saint Loup after their death s. In the case of the grandmother Pseudo Marcel is able to reconcile the caregiver with the dying woman and the grandmother of old with the grandmother in need. Pseudo Marcel even goes so far as to wish that he had been able to understand and care for his grandmother in her time of illness. Saint Loup does not receive the same treatment after he dies a noble death in the war, with the saddened Pseudo Marcel reflecting on the difficulties of reconciling the two Saint Loups, the Saint Loup of old and the disc Loup originally goes against the grain of the novel by performing the act of caregiving, he is eventually unable to complete this task and is not unified as a singular individual in Pseudo Marcel's final review. In many ways, Proust's work challenges the concepts of bodily or physical displacement through homosexuality by dividing his other caretaker the grandmother
22 between her caregiving self and her ill self. However, she is finally reunited and unifi ed after her death. Her division through illness is not continual for Pseudo Marcel, but the division of Saint Loup transcends the character's death. This thesis will track the arcs of the two caregivers' narratives and present the sections of the novel t hat tease out some of the complex issues surrounding the combination of gender, sexuality and the body, highlighting sections that demonstrate the greater impact of these tensions on the work as a whole.
23 Chapter 1: Exploring Gender Roles throughout Pseudo Marcel's Illness and Youth in La recherche The first chapter of this thesis will look closely at the passages of Proust's work situated during Pseudo Marcel's youth and young adulthood, centering on the years in which t he grandmother and Saint Loup are heavily involved in the drama of the narrator protagonist's illness while also focusing on the broader topic of Pseudo Marcel's illness as a dominating aspect of la recherche du temps perdu. The limitations and needs of the narrator protagonist brought on by his nervous episodes give rise to multiple difficulties in Pseudo Marcel's life and are central to the relationships that he forms with the caregivers he relies on. I will focus on the similarities and differences pre sented in the characters of the grandmother and Saint Loup through Pseudo Marcel's narrative lens. The analysis of this section relies on a comparison of the parallel acts of caregiving completed by both the highly idealized male bodied and female bodied c haracters and the contrast in Pseudo Marcel's voiced perceptions of their respective methods of care. In my analysis, I seek to support the unconventional theory that the grandmother and Saint Loup are in fact mirrored characters and also to display how th ey each expose important aspects of Pseudo Marcel's conceptualization of prescribed gender roles. This mirroring concept will be important in analyzing the complications that arise in the two figures who both represent one specific type of relationship in the novel for the narrator. Since Proust's novel is so exhaustive, a great deal of my analysis will rely on presentations of gender as framed within La recherche itself. During the caregiving years
24 neither caregiver displays a complication with sexuality or gender from Pseudo Marcel's point of view, so the passages I look at will serve as the basis of comparison in considering the identity transformations that occur and the complications of gender and sexuality that arise over the course of La recherche. Pseudo Marcel lies at the very heart of this analysis since his is the only direct perspective we are given in the novel, bringing the reader into his own observations and judgements. My analysis will be split into two sections, one focusing on the grandmother and the other focusing on Saint Loup. The Female Caregiver Throughout the course of La recherche Pseudo Marcel's grandmother presents a positive vision of the ideal maternal figure while simultaneously unveiling the narrator protagonis t's tendency towards selfishness in relationships, in many cases prompted by his illnesses. With little development of the character of the grandmother independent of Pseudo Marcel's illness and needs, the maternal figure presents a relationship solely cen tered around her abilities as a caretaker and consistently displays her undying, self denying affection for the narrator. In order to underscore the exceptionality of the desexualized caregiving female figure, it is important to contrast the characterizati on of the grandmother with the characterization of the mother figure presented by Pseudo Marcel. The first chapter of Proust's work opens with the narrator protagonist relaying fragments of his childhood and young adulthood to the reader as a sickly midd le aged man. In the first few volumes of La recherche this particular narrative style,
25 which draws largely from belated realizations, is regularly employed. Often the matured Pseudo Marcel provides a detailed account of his former experiences yet artfully withholds crucial elements of intrigue that will be clarified later in the work. The setting of the first dramatic sequence of his childhood centers on Pseudo Marcel's youth and his anxieties concerning being put to bed without receiving a goo dnight kiss from his mother. This kiss is framed as a ritual that occurs almost every night, but is often unsatisfying due to constraints on duration or intimacy that are usually prompted by the mother's desire to attend to her guests, dessert ices, and, i mportantly, her husband. As Proust's work progresses, it becomes evident that Pseudo Marcel's illnesses are sparked by a nervousness that he experiences when he is not attended to at the exact moment that he wishes. If the kiss is not performed, Pseudo Mar cel expresses a sort of obsession with its absence which results in thrusting the young narrator into fits of nervousness. Pseudo Marcel addresses one evening in particular in which his mother is entertaining guests at the time that he is put to bed. The scene that follows involves a tableau of the narrator's nervous anxieties and the conflicted nature of his mother's affections. It is implied in this section that Pseudo Marcel's father is a major factor in his mother's decisions to avoid spoiling the sic kly child with a doting demeanor or to give in to the narrator's desires while he is in a state of agitation. As Pseudo Marcel recounts his experience, he details the rigidity exhibited in his father 's behavior during the bedtime onstantly to refuse to let me do things which were quite clearly This dynamic between mother, father and son brings out issues in their relationship
26 struct ure linked to Freud's concept of the Oedipal complex in the phallic stage of development (25 26). Suggesting that the narrator exhibits an amount of latent sexual desire for his mother (which can be seen in the text through Pseudo Marcel's neediness and je alousy toward his father) helps to unravel underlying issues of sexuality that may explain why Pseudo Marcel's relationship with his mother is so fraught with emotional difficulties and anxieties from the outset. As these passages unfold, the reader is i ntroduced to another maternal character, Pseudo Marcel's grandmother. This matriarch differs vastly from the mother figure as Pseudo Marcel expresses no sexual conflict, tension, or jealousy when discussing his relationship with his grandmother. Analyzing the narrator's desexualization of the grandmother relies in part on stating some obvious facts, one being that the grandmother is much older than the stereotypically beautiful and young mother figure, and another being that she is further removed from the father mother hierarchy demonstrated in Pseudo Marcel's immediate familial sphere. Although she has clearly engaged in sexual relations in order to gain the status of grandmother, Pseudo Marcel almost never mentions his grandmother's husband (his grandfath er), who appears as a mere footnote in the expansive novel. Thus, the grandmother is removed from the complicating factors of the immediate maternal role while preserving the reliable and loving nature that the maternal symbolizes for the sickly narrator. In the opening, Pseudo Marcel puts his grandmother on an equal plane of importance with his mother and likens the two regarding his anxieties surrounding distance from them at the crucial hour. When describing his bedtime routine Pseudo
27 Mar that the grandmother's affection is crucial to the narrator, yet she is not withholding affect ion since the narrator has a planned routine involving his mother, not his grandmother. As Pseudo Marcel continues to elaborate on the neglectful behavior of the mother, the grandmother displays a divergent demeanor that suggests an exceptionality in her a bility to care for the ill boy. In direct opposition to the mother's absent kisses which are portrayed as vital to his wellness, Pseudo m the that in turn results in an extreme regard for others' health and well being. As early as the first few pages of Proust's novel, the grandmother is presented both as a source of open and accessible love in opposition to the mother's closed and withheld affections, and as a vital fulfillment of the narrator's search for desexualized maternal attention and care. On the occasion of this dramatic bedtime kiss from the m other, the grandmother actually prompts the mother to attend to Pseudo Marcel. When Pseudo Marcel's mother comforts her ill son by reading to him at bedtime, she reads from books that the grandmother selected specifically for her grandson. Pseudo Marcel's grandmother is not only capable of caring in her own right, but also encourages other characters to do the same, serving as the catalyst for much of the narrator's familial care. As the novel progresses, the narrator, in his young adulthood (albeit still d isplaying childish tendencies), makes a long awaited visit to Balbec, a small, fictional seaside town, for
28 health related reasons. Here, Pseudo Marcel is separated from his mother for the first time and lives solely with his grandmother. The t wo share adjoining hotel rooms separated by a thin wall through which they can communicate. Again, in direct opposition to the mother's typical physical distance and denial of Pseudo Marcel's bedtime needs, the grandmother actually stays in a room with onl y a wall separating herself from Pseudo Marcel and makes herself available to eliminate all of his fears and supply him with an ample amount of love and care during his bouts of nervousness. On the night of re to knock on the wall if you want constantly accessible and consistently available to provide Pseudo Marcel with the care and attention he requires. If Pseudo Marcel has an asthmatic attack, she goes out to get him whisky. If he needs anything at all she is constantly around, ready to do even the smallest task to reduce his symptoms. Unlike the mother's concern for Pseudo Marcel's father and his opinions of her behavio r, Pseudo Marcel's health is his grandmother's paramount concern. Although it seems that the grandmother would stand as an appreciated and revered opposition to Pseudo Marcel's detached mother, the selflessness and abounding love that the grandmother pr ovides in light of Pseudo Marcel's illnesses are not exactly returned by the narrator. On the contrary, Pseudo Marcel describes his illness as a weapon to wield against his grandmother's wishes, fully confident in her unending support and desire to soothe him. When Pseudo Marcel is feeling manipulative, he relies on his illness to enact the domination of his grandmother by virtue of her empathy and
29 love. Immediately following his first documented doctor visit and grim diagnosis, he says of th [alcohol] to be given to me, instead of disguising, almost to make a display of my state of aged vantage p oint, Pseudo Marcel immediately follows this statement with the thought that his grandmother's anxieties concerning his illness frightened him more than his own sickness. However, his actions throughout this period consistently suggest otherwise. In anoth er instance of domination, while boarding the train to Balbec with his grandmother, Pseudo Marcel throws a tantrum. In this passage the narrator touts his prescription for beer or champagne as a method of swaying his grandmother to let him do as he chooses even though she is originally against his intoxication during the journey. In this particular episode, Pseudo Marcel pits the advice and authority of his doctors against his grandmother's suggestions. When the narrator senses some hesitation on the part 700). With Pseudo Marcel's position, it could be argued that the ill young man had actual ly determined on his own that he needed the alcohol on this particular occasion. However, in the same paragraph, while considering this need Pseudo had not yet made up my mind whether to do this [drink the alcohol], but I wished at least that my grandmother should acknowledge that, if I did so decide, I should have wisdom again to be an extremely proficient caretaker and doctors are consistently making
30 mistakes throughout the course of La recherche Pseudo male dominated power structure of the doctor's prescription against his grandmother's suggestions and manipulates his grandmother with his illness without having a clear and decided cause. Pseudo Marcel is a complex character who develops various different types of relationships throughout La recherche but his tendency tow ards manipulative behavior is not unique to his relationship with his grandmother. What is exceptional is the language Pseudo Marcel chooses to describe the grandmother and her caregiving abilities. Through the repetitive cycle of unending giving and vast need, the language which emerges surrounding Pseudo Marcel and his relationship with his female caregiver furthers the lens through which one is able to understand Pseudo Marcel's gender normative interpretations of the grandmother's actions. In a work tha t is exceedingly thorough, the narrator spends an ample amount of time assessing and labeling both his grandmother and her actions of caretaking. In his assessments, Pseudo Marcel often casts his grandmother as a passive entity or as a container capable of both receiving his difficulties and of being easily accessed. In one episode, Pseudo Marcel recounts: I threw myself into the arms of my grandmother and pressed my lips to her face as though I were thus gaining access to that immense heart which she ope ned to me. And when I felt my mouth glued to her cheeks, to her brow, I drew from them something so beneficial, so nourishing, that I remained as motionless, as solemn, as calmly gluttonous as a babe at the breast (I: 718).
31 This statement p rovides several cues as to the nature of Pseudo Marcel's relationship to his grandmother and also displays what the narrator accepts and expects from his grandmother's caregiving. Instead of the grandmother being portrayed as an active participant in the e xchange between the two, the only acting individual in this passage is the narrator, who is doing the throwing, pressing, drawing, and most crucially, the accessing. The grandmother is continually open and Pseudo Marcel is constantly collecting from her pe rsonal reserves which are apparently inherent in her physical presence without any effort on her part. In this quote, Pseudo Marcel supplies a vision of himself as a needy infant (although he is in fact much older), drawing from his grandmother the necessa ry tools to confront the difficulties of his illness. It is clearly important that the grandmother presents a female sexed body, as the breasts are an important secondary sex characteristic for the narrator's metaphor. Still, I find that a distinction lies between this metaphorical suggestion of a feminine body and the actual representations of female sexuality as seen through Pseudo Marcel's observations of other female bodied characters of the novel. The female body, often longed for by the shy and weakly Pseudo Marcel, is not typically discussed in such explicit terms or metaphors. Often, female figures that Pseudo Marcel feels desires or feels attracted to are discussed in metaphorical terms stemming from nature. Women are compared to the ocean and most notably, flowers (as in l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs, or, Within a Budding Grove ). This comfort with the metaphor singling out the grandmother's breasts as a site of nourishment potentially signals a lack of sexual threat that the narrator finds in his grandmother.
32 The narrator protagonist also demonstrates his tendency to cast his grandmother in a passive role, even though the main reason he is so attached to her is that she is constantly doing work to maintain his states of repriev e from illness. There are many passages throughout the novel similar to the passage above, which is interesting since the narrator only really takes time to observe his grandmother's caretaking when she is an inactive participant. In other cases in which t he grandmother is doing errands or physically working on Pseudo Marcel, there is very little analysis of her actions on the part of the narrator. The grandmother's sacrifices are most often reflected in what Pseudo Marcel stands to gain from them and what he can draw from her physical person. Not only is the grandmother a vessel for Pseudo Marcel's attention and affection, she is also capable of literally containing his every trouble. In another passage during their trip to Balbec, Pseudo I knew, when I was with my grandmother, that however great the misery that there was in me, it would be received by her with a pity still more vast that everything that was mine, my cares, my wishes, would be the grandmother actually functions as a container, adding to her passivity. She is seen as a presence that is capable of expanding to fit and contain the needs of the narrator. The grandmother internalizes his difficulties so that Pseudo Marcel can gain s ome peace. Thus, instead of solely giving of her own body or sources of affection, Pseudo Marcel also describes the grandmother as a receptacle or as a passive deposit box for him to abandon his fears by transferring them in to this figure. Although the gr andmother is constantly taking action and performing physical tasks for Pseudo Marcel, the narrator continually relegates her to the position of
33 a passive source to be accessed or as a space to fill with his difficulties. Pseudo Marcel takes w hat is necessary from this source and deposits what is undesirable at the same location. As I will present later in my analysis of Saint Loup's caretaking methods and the narrator's reflections on them, these assessments of the grandmother's care clearly d emonstrate Pseudo Marcel's gendered interpretations and expectations of the passive and easily dominated female caregiver and his dominant role in his relationship to this maternal figure. The Male Caregiver Caregiving is an interesting topic when consi dering masculinity in La recherche since the novel is riddled with portraits of male doctors and their habits in caring (or not caring) for the ill. Proust's distasteful feelings towards doctors likely influenced his decision to create a novel which paint s a terrible picture of both the profession and the professionals involved. Thus, caregiving by non professionals is very important since those who are ill cannot typically be aided effectively by the callous, insensitive and often misinformed male doctors Another example of the inefficiencies of male caregiving can be seen during the grandmother's final moments, a scene that is almost humorous in its depiction of men and their lack of ability or drive towards caring for the ill. Pseudo Marcel's father, as his wife's mother is dying, sits in the adjoining room discussing the weather with a few other men as women are scrambling through the hallways, working diligently on restoring the dying woman's health. Thus, the grandmother's knack for caregiving, althou gh unprecedented in its skillfulness, does not serve as a shocking
34 element of Proust's novel simply because throughout La recherche women are responsible for this role in almost every instance of someone falling ill. Although Pseudo Marcel's m other is often cast in a less than positive light concerning her relationship to the narrator and his illness, the act of nursing or caring for the ill is carried out exclusively by women with the exception of Pseudo Marcel's closest male friend, Robert de Saint Loup. Since La recherche presents several instances of mirroring in characters, habits, or activities, and although the link between these two caregivers is seldom drawn, this portion of my thesis will demonstrate the similarities between the functi onal aspects of Saint Loup and the grandmother's caregiving for the narrator and the disparities in Pseudo Marcel's interpretations of their actions. While at Balbec, Pseudo Marcel becomes completely captivated by a man who is just older than himself, bu t who is distinctly not his peer in any other respect. Robert de Saint Loup comes from an aristocratic background as opposed to the narrator's position in the bourgeoisie. Pseudo Marcel sees Saint Loup as confident, exceedingly healthy and strong; all qua lities which the narrator protagonist desperately seeks to possess. At Balbec, Pseudo Marcel spends the first weeks building up to his meeting with Saint Loup, whom he has has spotted and followed with the hopes of befriending him, but with the feeling tha t he is not good enough or interesting enough to pursue and secure a friendship. When first describing Saint Loup, Pseudo Marcel discusses the extreme looking, though without ho lding it against him since they knew how virile he was and how
35 Marcel often comments on the beauty of his new friend but also on the committed relationship Saint Loup holds with his mistresses. Often, Pseudo Marcel discusses Saint Loup as though he is a work of art, drawing comparisons between the caregiver's physical body and a painted image, an activity in the text that is performed most typically by pining love rs. Already there are physical signs linking Saint Loup to other homosexual characters found in La recherche but Pseudo Marcel consistently relies on Saint Loup's virility and success with women as a way of dodging any suggestion of the deniability of S aint Loup's strict heterosexuality. Though Pseudo Marcel's failing body serves as the focal point of the caregivers' efforts, the bodies of the grandmother and Saint Loup are frequently foregrounded as well. Metaphors surrounding the grandmother's still mi lky, nourishing breasts and the ample amount of commentary centering on Saint Loup's potently virile body lend a certain importance to the caregivers' gendered physical bodies. The attention paid to the gender normative bodies of the caregivers through thi s part of the novel can function as a point of comparison with the descriptions of these bodies, With all of Pseudo Marcel's hesitation in approaching Saint Loup based on his own inadequacies, it c omes as a shock that when Pseudo Marcel and Saint Loup eventually meet the narrator forms a very similar relationship with Saint Loup as he has with his grandmother that is one centered on his illness. At Balbec, Saint Loup constantly cares for Pseudo Marc el through his sicknesses, often declining to attend other social functions in order to secure comfort and health for his friend. Although the
36 grandmother at this point is still taking great pains to attend to Marcel, she is occasionally indis posed (due to the onset of her own ultimately fatal illness which will be discussed later) and at this time, Saint Loup serves as an integral cog in the unending wheel of Pseudo Marcel's illnesses and needs. In the entirety of Proust's work, Pseudo Marcel will never have a closer male friend, and Saint Loup serves as the only man who performs the act of caregiving. In exploring Saint Loup's caregiving and the bearing it has on gender in the text, it is useful to draw comparisons and contrasts between the male character's acts of caregiving and those demonstrated by the grandmother earlier in the novel. Since the two fill an identical role in the most dominating aspect of Pseudo Marcel's life, there is significant overlap in their interactions with the narr ator protagonist; however, there are very few similarities in Pseudo Marcel's interpretations. The first and most crucial element of Saint Loup's parallel actions towards Pseudo Marcel can be seen through Saint Loup's aid during the narrator's bedtime ritu al. Although Saint Loup does not kiss Pseudo Marcel goodnight, he does attend to him at the most frightening and tense time covering my legs if they had turned cold without my noticing it, in arranging (without Loup and the grandmother participate in soothing Pseudo Marcel at bedtime, but the way in which they perform this ritual is vastly differe nt according to the narrator. In the case of the grandmother's caregiving, Pseudo Marcel must constantly notify her of his health status and is charged with the task of summoning her whenever he is in need. Saint Loup
37 actually anticipates Pseu do Marcel's desires, aggressively caring without asking the narrator, asserting his perceptive abilities and invading Pseudo Marcel's illness without suggestions or requests from the patient. This action based approach that Pseudo Marcel ascribes to Saint Loup's caregiving vastly differs from Pseudo Marcel's vision of the containing and passive grandmother. After Pseudo Marcel and Saint Loup's relationship of caring and illness has progressed, the narrator offers another glimpse of his friend's exceptiona l caregiving abilities, this time couching Saint Loup's actions firmly within his concept of idealized masculinity. On an afternoon outing with his grandmother and Saint Loup, Pseudo Marcel assesses Saint h which he sprang from the box when he was afraid I might be cold, to spread his own cloak over my shoulders, I sensed the inherited litheness of the mighty hunters who had been for Marcel' s perspective, Saint Loup is masculine through his acts of caregiving. Although this activity is reserved solely for women throughout the rest of La recherche Pseudo Marcel offers the comparison between Saint Loup tenderly covering his shoulders with his own garment and the age old masculine tradition of hunting. The way in which Pseudo Marcel constructs Saint Loup's caregiving role allows for the caregiver to engage in a dialogue with his male ancestors and strengthens his bond with them. Instead of Pseud o Marcel ascribing a femininity to his male caregiver, he views Saint Loup's actions as reaffirming of a stereotypically masculine skill. The above quote also demonstrates a complication in the gender and sexual
38 dynamics between Saint Loup and Pseudo Marcel that goes unanalyzed by the ill narrator. Saint Loup's cloaking of the delicate Pseudo Marcel in his own jacket seems similar to the way a gentleman might treat his mistress in the same situation. For Pseudo Marcel, Saint Loup demonstrate s a type of masculinity that is exemplified by the caregiver's generosity and proficiency in caregiving. At the same time, the narrator is often placed in a more feminine and passive role while being cared for by the masculine and dominant Saint Loup. Pseu do Marcel does not evaluate his own position in this exchange, but the bond presented between the two characters suggests a relationship structure that is similar to the heterosexual romances that occur between men and women throughout the novel. In oppo sition to the grandmother's passive, containing care, Saint Loup is aggressive, strong, agile and importantly, always seen in the act of caregiving, something Pseudo Marcel only mentions in passing or as an afterthought when considering the grandmother. Th e imagery used to describe the caregivers works nicely as a tool to view the similarities and differences in Pseudo Marcel's perceptions. On this occasion and the occasion in which Pseudo Marcel is describing the accessing of his grandmother, the narrator chooses metaphors surrounding the concept of nourishing him, the grandmother as breast feeding and Saint Loup as valiantly killing and returning with provisions. Both characters perform similar acts, are characterized as providing similar supplies for Pseu do Marcel, yet the narrator's interpretations of their functions is markedly different and reflects a desire on the part of Pseudo Marcel to see and characterize them through a highly gender normative lens.
39 Running parallel to Pseudo Marcel 's mistreatment of his grandmother, Saint Loup is also deprived of returned affections from the object of his caregiving. After Saint Loup has become friends with the sickly Pseudo Marcel, the narrator ponders over their relationship and feels as though a friendship is too much to look after. Throughout La recherche, Pseudo Marcel is dedicated to the idea that he will write his own novel, yet is consistently unproductive for various reasons. After securing his friendship and caregiving, Pseudo Marcel become s restless with Saint Loup, feeling that their relationship is delaying his progress. When Saint Loup tells Pseudo Marcel that he filled me with a sort of melancholy and I was at a loss for an answer for I felt when I was with him, when I was talking to him...none of that this time, Pseudo Marcel needs Saint Loup as a caregiver but is exclusively interested in that aspect of the relationship, nothing else. The novel reflects this trend in their relationship by seldom displaying any other interactions between the two characters that are not based ar ound Pseudo Marcel's endless needs and Saint Loup's constant support. Saint Loup's attention is continually turned towards Pseudo Marcel and his illness, and Pseudo Marcel is consistently utilizing Saint Loup's attention without returning much attention, c are or support himself. Later on when Saint Loup enrolls in the service, Pseudo Marcel visits him at his barracks. During this time, although Pseudo Marcel is scheduled to stay at a hotel up the street, Saint Loup actually invites the narrator protagonist to sleep in his room with him.
40 When Pseudo Marcel receives the news that he will be permitted to stay, instead of thanking Saint Loup who ultimately asked the favor, he neglects his friend's efforts and expresses his gratitude by praising the officer that granted the caregiver's request. Saint given you leave?' I relationship with the grandmother centered around care, Pseudo Marcel also denies Robert his gratitude, even when it is his friend and caretaker who has made the effort to allay his fears a nd calm his nerves. Closing Words The most central point of comparison between the grandmother and Saint Loup lies in both of the characters' levels of proficiency in providing care and comfort for the ill narrator. Although they are both performing si milar acts of caregiving, and although the narrator treats their relationships in highly similar ways, through Pseudo Marcel's lens the grandmother upholds a vision of passive feminine perfection, the ideal accessible mother figure, while Saint Loup is se en by Pseudo Marcel as the ideal, virile, aggressively attentive masculine caregiver. Pseudo Marcel's labeling and projections are relatively simplistic and gender normative, but at least the caregivers are portrayed in a generally positive light, despite his poor treatment of them. It is also important to note that neither caregiver presents a complicated sexuality in the eyes of the narrator, and neither character is seen as a potential sexual partner or sexual threat on any level. In this
41 chapter, I have outlined Pseudo Marcel's visions of the grandmother and Saint Loup in the prime of their caregiving years. The descriptions above provide a good point of comparison for analyzing the complications of gender, sexuality and the body that aris e in the next section of the novel, serving as a primary baseline for Pseudo Marcel's interpretations of the two caregivers. This positive vision of these two characters will change drastically once they are no longer completing their roles as caregivers. The next chapter of my thesis will outline the caregivers' divergent yet mirrored declines and Pseudo Marcel's reactions to the onset of their discontinued caregiving.
42 Chapter 2: When Caregivers are Lost: Behavioral Changes and Fractured Identities of the Declining Caregivers The first chapter of this thesis provides a look at the underpinnings of Pseudo Marcel's constructions of idealized or typified gendered roles and sexualities in both a male bodied character and a female bodied character. Much of the narrator's analysis centers on his attempts to recount the behavioral traits of the grandmother and Saint Loup. These traits often revolve around the characters' specific and limited roles and identities as caregivers in the n ovel. In this chapter, I will demonstrate that Pseudo Marcel perceives a shift in the behaviors of the grandmother and Saint Loup which change as a result of their inabilities to perform the act of caregiving for Pseudo Marcel. These changes, which mark th e caregivers' physical, social, or moral destructions, come in the form of highly parallel narrative arcs. My argument centers on pointing to what I have observed to be a similarity in these behavioral changes and declines. Pseudo Marcel's process of narra ting the progressions of the grandmother and Saint Loup presents a striking similarity in their downfalls as the idealized characters representing femininity and masculinity. My interest lies in what sparks the behavioral declines for the grandmother an d Saint Loup. Pseudo Marcel first recognizes a behavioral change in the grandmother, and then a change in their relationship structure, stemming from a physical illness which will ultimately prove fatal for the female caregiver. Similar to the move to defi ne sexuality in
43 terms of identity based on desires or behaviors, the grandmother loses her old caregiving identity, which is replaced with new identities over the course of her illness. This identity displacement also occurs with Saint Loup. I n the case of the male caregiver, the caregiving process is curtailed through Pseudo Marcel's discovery of Saint Loup's homosexuality. In both cases, the real change in Pseudo Marcel's previous constructions of the caregivers lies in their inability to per form as his caregivers. When this relationship structure is stripped away, the grandmother and Saint Loup reveal some underlying complications surrounding Pseudo Marcel's constructions of identity and behavior. The change in relationship and behaviors p rompts Pseudo Marcel to divorce the caregivers from their former selves. This re imagining of the caregivers presents layers of complications linked to larger issues such as gender, sexuality, and social structures present in the novel. Pseudo Marcel's met hodical process of dividing the declining grandmother and Saint Loup from their former idealized selves serves to underscore a tendency in Proust's narrator toward the scientific or medical eye. It demonstrates that he observes identity and behavior as qua ntifiable or codified, and when this is undermined, he struggles and decides to divide his memory of the caregivers from their previously concrete identites. This chapter will question what happens when the identities of the caregivers must be reconstructe d around criteria other than their caregiving. Since the grandmother and Saint Loup, through their roles as caregivers, arguably present the only example of parallelism in action and relationship structure for the male and female bodied characters of the novel, it is significant that they both experience a decline, and that these declines manifest in similar visions of the new behavioral traits as perceived by
44 Pseudo Marcel. A Methodical Formula of Fission: Separating the Self from the Other and the Other from Her Previous Self Even as early as their trip to Balbec, during which Pseudo Marcel and the grandmother are bunking in adjoining hotel rooms, there are intimations of the grandmother's gradual decline. Long absences and previously unwi tnessed behaviors signal a change in the static and constantly available feminine figure for the young narrator. He is still unsure of what is causing the differences in her behavior, but it is apparent that changes in the relationship dynamic are sporadic ally surfacing. It is notable that the grandmother is continually turning her attention to Pseudo Marcel's illness and needs during this time to the best of her ability, as this will be a constant in her actions and behaviors leading up to her eventual al l consuming physical incapacity. As he narrates these small differences in her behavior, it becomes clear that Pseudo Marcel sees only one viable course of action to quell his pain and frustration. He must divorce the grandmother's old body and set of beha vioral traits from the new body and set of possible behavioral traits, which is at this point constricted by limitations stemming from her recently less able body. Since Proust's novel demonstrates an obsession with that which is quite literally lost and then found, re discovered or re envisioned, it can be difficult to pinpoint in time the spark that ignites the bodily decline and eventual death of the grandmother. When the narrator does start relating some of the changes occurring, his attention is focu sed on
45 what his experience will be when his grandmother is absent. This absence is not defined in terms of why he will have to experience an absence from his grandmother, and there is no consideration of what could precede the absence. He la rgely overlooks or skirts his grandmother's worsening condition and the way in which it will affect her during her lifetime. Moreover, Pseudo Marcel ignores the general concept of the passage of time in relation to his grandmother and the reality that she being much older than himself, will not likely outlive him. Pseudo Marcel does not reveal the source of the grandmother's behavioral changes as early as he begins to narrate the differences, so remarks like the following are the reader's only cue to expe ct a change in the formerly one dimensional humor arose more particularly from the fact that, during that week, my grandmother had appeared to be avoiding me, and I had not been able to have her to myself for a moment, either by night or revealed to be absences due to illness, Pseudo Marcel's short sightedness (which could easily be interpreted as an element of childishness or selfishness often associated with the narrator) at times seems to int imate a conscious effort on his part to deny the inevitable. Recalling the previously one dimensional image of the idealized caregiving grandmother figure outlined in my first chapter, it is not entirely surprising that the narrator's efforts to understand her experiences, which may not fit in to the image of her typecast role, largely miss the mark, and ultimately center again on his needs and concerns. This trend in Pseudo Marcel's demand to be at the center of the grandmother's experiences will only stre ngthen as her decline picks up steam. At this point, the grandmother privately contains her illness and bodily struggle.
46 When she is no longer as physically capable as she once was, her struggle to maintain former behaviors becomes fraught w ith tension. This bodily inability then manifests in a behavioral inability for the previously able bodied individual whose sole purpose in terms of the narrator was to tend to his struggling body. Pseudo Marcel, in the following passage, is actually at a loss for words an almost unthinkable event in the course of such an exhaustive novel. The ellipsis serves as evidence confirming his understanding of the looming bodily separation between himself and his caregiver know what a creature of habit I am. For the first few days after I've been separated from the people I love best, I'm miserable. But I go on loving them just as much, I get used to their absence, my life becomes calm and smooth. I would stand being parted Marcel must face the fact that his vision of his grandmother as a flat ideal was a constructed identity built out of his tendency towards habit, comfort and stability. I read the ellipsis as evidence o f his understanding that there will eventually come a moment in time in which he will be separated from his grandmother physically, forever ending her ability to provide care for him. At Balbec, the grandmother sets up a photo shoot with a photographer S aint Loup. This scene marks the beginning of a change in the narrator's perception of his grandmother's crafted identity not only in terms of her accessibility, but also in terms of her personal character. The photography session demonstrates the first tim e in which Pseudo Marcel actually calls into question the reality of the static, one dimensional, desexualized, yet bodily grandmother. While watching her prepare and pose for her
47 photograph, Pseudo had not been mistaken in my grandmother, whether I did not put her on too lofty a pedestal, whether she was as unconcerned about her person as I had always supposed, whether she was entirely innocent of the weakness which I had always thought most alien t (I:843). This passage highlights some key aspects of the narrator's struggle to parse the complexity present in the grandmother's behavior during her transitional period. He comments on her styling her hair under her hat, which is lat er revealed to have been necessary for covering up physical depressions wrought on her face by the onset of illness. This is the first time that the narrator recognizes in his grandmother a concern on her part for her own physicality. In the first chapte r, I chose passages that reflected the physical capabilities of the grandmother, whether metaphorical or actual, that the narrator ascribed to her caregiving process. Pseudo Marcel casts the caregiving grandmother as a container for his difficulties or a s ource of maternal love to physically draw comfort from. Even in Pseudo Marcel's earliest constructions, his language suggests that the grandmother is an entity capable of physically containing his troubles and concerns. She is, however, not conceived of as bodily when there is a threat of the cessation of caregiving. The narrator struggles with allowing her to display physical change and also debases her previous construction when she shows signs of concern for her own physical maintenance. In terms of his previous experiences, at this point in the novel, the narrator is capable of understanding and has witnessed death and physical illness in others. Yet although the grandmother is bodily, she also stands as an entity which functions more
48 outsi de of her body to maintain the body of another (namely, Pseudo Marcel). Pseudo Marcel's eventual recognition of the fact that the grandmother was working to cover up her illness for his benefit makes him re evaluate her vanity after her death. As the n ovel progresses, Saint Loup moves from Balbec to Donci res in order to live in the military barracks to which he is assigned. This move prompts Pseudo Marcel to pay Saint Loup a visit for an extended period, during which the narrator is separated from his grandmother. After he returns to his family, he is confronted head on with the physical changes that have occurred in his grandmother. No longer able to fully conceal her bodily decline, the grandmother is both physically and behaviorally different. Upon seeing her again, the narrator is unable to pacify himself by ignoring his grandmother's physical limitations as a bodily individual. The static portraiture shifts further, and in its place, Pseudo Marcel finds a different being: I, for whom m y grandmother was still myself, I who had never seen her save in my own soul, always in the same place in the past, through the transparency of contiguous and overlapping memories, suddenly, in our drawing nt only, since she vanished very quickly, I saw, sitting on the sofa beneath the lamp, red faced, heavy and vulgar, sick, vacant, letting her slightly crazed eyes wander over a book, a dejected old woman whom I did not know (II: 143). Instead of acknowledging and analyzing the process of transformation (as he so often does with the cyclical aspects of the natural and larger social structures), Pseudo Marcel points to the results of the process the differences in the two figures. The
49 g randmother does not demonstrate a fluidity, transferring smoothly from caregiver to one who needs care. Rather, she flits between the static and concrete figure of the previous grandmother and a new, unfamiliar old woman. It is also notable that the narra tor is grandmother, and to begin viewing the grandmother as a separate and new enti ty disconnected from her former self, if only for a moment, constitutes the first step in a process of division that Pseudo Marcel will perform on the grandmother and, later, on Saint Loup. The following thirty or so pages give a detailed outline of the g randmother's rapid decline towards certain death and the transformations that occur in her during the process. different being which Pseudo Marcel is tasked with re situating and re evaluating in the absence of their past one sided caregiving relationship. Even as the family and the narrator become aware of her newly exhibited physical handicaps, the narrator prota gonist does not modify his behavior and expectations of the relationship. It is as if he maintains that the changes are not taking place as he continually locates himself and his needs at the center of the narrative action. While he waits for his bodily st ruggling grandmother to prepare for a walk he is escorting her on for her health, Pseudo Marcel says: and to risk making me late when she knew that I had an appointment with my friends and was dining at Vil
50 previous relationship with the grandmother, and is met with challenge. The self centeredness of his caregiving relationship lingers, even as he is becoming aware of the bodily transformation and deterioration that even the best, most adept caregiver he has ever experienced, cannot stave off in herself for his benefit. The physical process of the grandmother's deterioration is not discussed in terms of her experiences or P seudo Marcel's understanding of her experiences. The narrator protagonist observes different stages of his grandmother's decline and relates them to a need to divorce himself from She had suddenly returned to me the thoughts, the griefs which, from my earliest childhood, I had Because Pseudo Marcel only understood his grandmother through his own construction of the roles in their relationship, her inability to perform within these constructs necessitates a dismantling of her former self. Eventually, the grandmother becomes so ill that she is incapable of recognizing her own grandson. Pseudo Ma a moment later, I bent over her to kiss that beloved forehead which had been so harshly treated, she looked up at me with a puzzled, distrustful, shocked expression: she had not :346). Thus, not only has the grandmother become unrecognizable to the ill youth, but Pseudo Marcel recognizes that he too has changed for the grandmother. This marks a further step in the division between the grandmother as caregiver from the new figure t hat the narrator both associates with and works to disassociate from the former figure. Her behaviors and physical form have changed so drastically that she and
51 Pseudo Marcel have no connection to their past relationship. With this, the grandm other is no longer the vision of maternal love and care from earlier sections of the novel. A final step in Pseudo Marcel's construction of the new grandmother while she is living paints her as a grotesque, defamiliarized, and at times, inhuman entity. T hroughout the beginning of the novel, the grandmother is referred to in endearing terms, such as granny, titles which constantly connect her to her femininity divorced of sexual threat. In her last moments, Pseudo as others transitions described in the novel. Characters who are at one point critically important for the narrator (such as great authors, musicians or visual artists whose works inspire the aspiring artist) are eventually knocked off their pedestals. This, however, most often occurs during their absence from the narrative. They go unspoken of, then resurface much later in the novel as their ailing and physically challenged selves. Pseudo Marcel is constantly around the grandmother throughout her transition. Because of this, the actual methodical process of fission that the narrator protagonist performs upon arguably the most static and idealized charact er of Proust's work is displayed in full. Finally, after the suffering has ended and the grandmother has died, Pseudo Marcel performs a very jarring analysis one which entirely undermines the initial portrait of the desexualized maternal grandmother fig ure. Post death, the grandmother is even further removed from her old caregiving self as she suddenly transitions into a young and virginal sexual being:
52 As in the far off days when her parents had chosen for her a bridegroom, she had t he features, delicately traced by purity and submission, the cheeks glowing with a chaste expectation, with a dream of happiness, with an innocent gaiety even, which the years had gradually destroyed...On that funeral couch, death, like a sculptor of the Middle Ages, had laid her down in the form of a young girl (II:357). Rather than being portrayed as a desexualized dead body, the grandmother is no longer her former healthy, caregiving self, nor is she the gross representation of illness and in capability that she has been throughout Pseudo Marcel's account of her illness. This is the final step of division from the old grandmother to the new and estranged, potentially sexual figure that remains. In this final step, the main elements that differe ntiated the grandmother from other more threatening figures, such as the mother, are reversed, and the grandmother loses all of the qualities of the idealized maternal figure Pseudo Marcel constructed during the caregiving years. Another Identity Lost: Witnessing a Parallel in Saint Loup's Narrative The process of separation and fission performed on the grandmother occurs a bit before the half way mark in Proust's novel. La recherche demonstrates not only the growth and progression of the individual Ps eudo Marcel, but also his recurrent habits and the experiences which inform his decision making processes and actions. Proust's work as a whole is concerned with the retention of experiences and the changes these experiences have on the outlook and behavio r of the narrator. It is then significant on
53 many levels that the female caregiver's decline occurs long before Pseudo Marcel is notified of a change in Saint narrator protagonist is in formed that Saint Loup engages in homosexual relationships. The unveiling of Saint Loup's homosexual proclivities is both shocking and conventional in the text. It simultaneously undermines Pseudo Marcel's most firm construction of idealized masculinity, while also fitting in to a general trend of the pervasiveness of homosexuality in the novel. Many characters are outed; however, Saint Loup's homosexuality is particularly significant, since it brings to the fore questions surrounding the exceptions Pseudo Marcel allowed Saint Loup in his construction of masculine identity (e.g. his acceptance of Saint Loup as one of his caregivers). An understanding of sexuality and sexual behaviors contemporary to the writing of La recherche helps elucidate Pseudo Marce l's reactions to Saint Loup's newly unveiled sexual desires. As Foucault outlines in his History of Sexuality the period spanning the turn of the nineteenth to twentieth centuries saw an increase in the tendency to codify or taxonomize sexual behaviors. T his was a new way of conceptualizing sexuality that sought to link one's sexual desires and practices to fixed identities constructed around fact,' the way in wh Proust's writing, discourse surrounding sexuality displayed a fundamental shift from grouping and observing individual sexual acts to creating identities based around sexual desires. F Marcel makes associations and
54 observations of Saint Loup's progression as an individual within the framework of this newly constructed understanding of who or what the homosexual individual is an understanding that extends to abnormalities in habit and behavior which supposedly go hand in hand with certain types of sexual desire. This tendency to ascribe a host of behavioral traits to an individual by associating these characteristics with a particular sexual identity was relatively new during Proust's writing process, and is reflected heavily in Pseudo L oup. Since Pseudo Marcel left Donci res and Saint Loup continued with his military enrollment, the two were only ever able to meet up for extremely brief periods of time throughout the thousand pages separating the caregiving Saint Loup from the newly rev of the destructive aspects of her illness during his stay with Saint Loup at the barracks, Pseudo Marcel is stunned after resurfacing into the social world and experienci ng a similarly dramatic change. However, in the case of the masculine caregiver, the onset of behavioral or relationship change is not sparked by a difference Pseudo Marcel sees in Saint Loup. In fact, he does not even come in to contact with his previous caregiver when his earlier construction of Saint Loup is first called in to question. There is no recognition of a behavioral or physical change in the male caregiver. Yet Pseudo Marcel's vision is I: 697), another homosexual character in the novel, most known for his illicit connection to the Baron Charlus, Saint Loup's uncle. Much like the difficulty experienced in pinpointing the onset of the
55 grandmother's physical illness, Pseudo Mar cel is met with varying speculation asserting that Saint Loup's homosexuality could actually have begun during the period when he was caring for Pseudo Marcel at Balbec. Instead of being able to construct a fixed point of inversion, Pseudo Marcel must dea l with Saint Loup's sexual inversion as locus less: original course, that Robert's carnal desires had assumed, a conversation which I had with Aim and which had m ade me extremely unhappy showed me that the head waiter at important to note that, like Pseudo Marcel's analysis of the grandmother's condition, the narrator seeks to uncover a rigid new level of identity in Saint Loup. This speculation will become crucial, as Pseudo Marcel's knowledge of Saint Loup's homosexuality will drive the narrator to perform a similar process as that which he performs on the physically ill grandmother one of divorce, disassociation and fission. As though Pseudo Marcel were experiencing the same hardships that he experienced with the inevitable physical absence from his grandmother, two things become clear: the cessation of the relationship s tructure of caregiving is more important than the actual process of physical or moral decline in another character, regardless of the catalyst for that decline. It is also clear that homosexuality manifests in similar issues experienced with the physical i llness, decline and death represented in earlier sections of the novel. In the grandmother's decline, doctors are plentiful and provide their own interpretations of the actual physical changes occurring in her. With Saint Loup, the field is much more open for Pseudo Marcel to insert his own speculations about the physical
56 and behavioral changes manifesting from his caregiver's newly established position as a homosexual. The task of divorcing Saint Loup becomes very complicated. On the one hand Saint Loup is not heading for a certain and infinite bodily divorce from Pseudo Marcel in physical terms. Rather, Pseudo Marcel's inability to identify a cut and Saint Loup that may have existed during Saint Loup's years as the model male and exceptional caregiver brings in an extra threat surrounding Pseudo Marcel's own sexuality and the nature of their intimate relationship of years ago. When considering this issue, Pseudo Marcel states: But I was convinced that Saint Loup's physio logical evolution had not begun at that period and that he had then been still exclusively a lover of women. More than by any other sign, I could tell this retrospectively by the friendship that Saint Loup had shown me at Balbec. It was only while he still loved women that he was really capable of friendship. Afterwards, for some extent at least, to the men who did not attract him physically he displayed an indifference which was to some extent, I believe, sincere for he had become ver y curt but which he exaggerated as well in order to make people think that he was interested only in women (III:700). Although there is an overwhelming amount of proof brought forth in these passages of Saint Loup's homosexual trysts during his time caring for Pseudo Marcel at Balbec, the knowledge of Saint Loup's errant sexual behaviors prompts the narrator to chose a point
57 of origin with which he is comfortable in order to firmly separate the masculine ideal from the sexually questiona ble replacement. Several elements of the language seen in this passage help highlight Pseudo Marcel's tendency to discuss the body, sexual identity and behavior in a taxonomical or medical way. While performing the typically feminized act o f caregiving, Saint Loup's sexuality was not called in to question and his virility was firmly supported by all of Pseudo Marcel's observations his motivations unquestioned and his thoughts and actions acting as symbols of overruling masculine perfection. Yet after Pseudo Marcel's dramatic struggle with separation and a sort of abandonment experienced with the loss of his only other caregiver, it seems that he reaches into this past experience to inform his process of divorcing Saint Loup. Just as the actua l physical illness signaled by a change in the body prompts Pseudo Marcel to split the grandmother from her former able bodied and capable self, so too does the information of Saint Loup's newfound sexual identity inform the narrator's decision to begin th e process of enumerating the behavioral and social changes occurring in his previous caregiver, ultimately leading to a similar separation. Parallel to the grandmother's desperate struggle to keep up an appearance of wellness while in the throes of suffe ring a stroke, Pseudo Marcel zeroes in on Saint Loup's desperate attempts to mask his newly unveiled sexuality. When the narrator is finally reintroduced to Saint Loup in the flesh, his observations of this caregiver rely heavily on redefining the behavior al differences that Saint Loup is exhibiting. The new image that Pseudo Marcel constructs in the stead of his caregiver is drastically different
58 say to me i n an artificially affectionate manner which contrasted painfully with his spontaneous affection of the old days, with the voice of an alcoholic and an actor's (III:721). Just as Pseudo Marcel observes the beast living grandmother, still working to conceal her illness and its physical manifestations, so too does he see a transition of identity in his masculine caregiver. It is also importan t to consider where the origin of Pseudo Marcel's frustration lies. Saint Loup is still affectionate, and, as far as we know physically capable of caregiving. The difference in Saint Loup's ability lies in Pseudo Marcel's conceptions of what homosexuality does to the behavior, body and morality of a character. Saint Loup is not on the verge of bodily death, yet for Pseudo Marcel, the only true catalyst for all of this real or supposed change is the knowledge of Saint Loup's newly unveiled sexual orientation Within La recherche, homosexual male bodied characters are repeatedly depicted as struggling with keeping up the appearance of heterosexuality in order to stay within the socially constructed lines of their prescriptive gender roles. To this end, many of the marital affairs (or supposed affairs) with other women outside of their marriages. This leads to male homosexual characters with split schedules and agendas, balancing family life with the necessi ty to create the appearance of sexual relations with other women in order to reaffirm their masculinity on the side, along with the actual affairs that are occurring with the male bodied characters they are sexually or, at times, romantically engaged with. The interaction between
59 homosexuality and physical illness is possibly most accentuated in a passage that centers on Saint Loup's unfaithfulness to his wife, Gilberte. Upon her discovery of love letters her husband had sent to a character she supposes to be another woman (who may very well have been another man), Pseudo Loup] would sob, plunge his head into cold water, talk about his imminent death, sometimes throw himself on the floor as though to lessen the impact or slow the unveiling of his split self, Saint Loup actually turns to physical illness as a mechanism for distracting his wife, who believes that this correspondence is occurring between her h usband and another woman. Saint Loup is no longer the caregiver, but presents himself as someone in need of care. Through his conflicting selves, Saint Loup must debase his physical status as virile and strong to a similar level of illness and nervous para noia experienced by the narrator and quelled by Saint Loup throughout Pseudo Marcel's youth and young adulthood. More work is done to align the homosexual Saint Loup with the caregiver's female bodied family line. Pseudo y the great changes taking place in him. More and more he resembled his mother: the haughtily elegant manner which he had inherited from her and which she, by means of the most elaborate II: 722). This passage highlights the supposed shift in the caregiver's physical and social presentation from the masculine to the feminine. In this section, Pseudo Marcel's vision of Saint Loup's struggle to maintain his image of virile masculinity meets with tension at the point where Saint Loup's attitudes, habits and person have supposedly changed because of his
60 inversion. At Balbec, Saint Loup was described as elegant, but this is the first instance in which this elegant nature is inscrib ed firmly within the realm of femininity. In the following passages, Pseudo the grandmother as caregiver's disappearance which predates her actual physical end, Saint Loup is seen by Pseudo Marce l as having changed so drastically that he is no longer even an iteration of his former self, the self that was capable of interacting with Pseudo Marcel in the specific and narrow relationship structure of caregiving. To accentuate the exceptionality of Pseudo Marcel's responses, judgements and constructions of the caregivers, it is crucial to reference their transformations in conjunction with other occasions of both physical illness and homosexuality within the novel at large. Directly following the O verture the very first section of La recherche Pseudo Marcel describes in detail the nervous illness of his Aunt L onie. It is one of the only other times in the novel that a person (also a female bodied individual) is so stricken with illness that it co nsumes what seems to be countless pages of Pseudo Marcel's observations. Considering these passages and relating them to the grandmother's case helps shed some light on the gravity of the change that occurs in the grandmother as she moves from caregiver to an unrecognizable physical entity. Pseudo Marcel's aunt never fills the caregiving role, and does not experience even remotely the same trajectory of fission and change that are witnessed in the grandmother. She is sickly from the outset, in constant need of care herself, and Pseudo Marcel never undermines or questions this identity. Perhaps a more provocative difference in the trajectory of the caregiving decline
61 lies in the fact that Pseudo Marcel is, at times, far less condemning of those who engage in same sex sexual relationships as seen in other instances of homosexuality throughout La recherche. For instance, as Pseudo Marcel is observing for the first time the homosexuality of M. de Charlus (who is, incidentally, Saint Loup's uncle), his description of Charlus and his partner Jupien's exchange reads as follows: Nearer still to nature and the multiplicity of these analogies is itself all the more natural in that the same man, if we examine him for a few minutes, appears in turn a man, a man bird, a man fish, a man insect one might have thought of them as a pair of birds, the male and the female, the male seeking to make advances, the female Jupien no longer giving any sign of response to these overtures (II: 628). Inste ad of deferring to a social understanding of the set of behaviors ascribed to the Marcel sees Charlus as demonstrating a fluidity of identities, and Sa int Charlus and Jupien is accentuated in this passage. It is very simple work for the narrator to piece together the dynamics of their relationship in his mind. With Saint Lou p, Pseudo Marcel must question his own position in relation to Saint Loup. There is a constant threat that what seemed to be a valuable homosocial relationship between the two of them may have, in fact, been something more to his masculine caregiver. Altho ugh Charlus is likened to animals, he is not branded as such, and rather represents a whole host of possibilities of incarnation at one single glance, all falling under the umbrella of
62 masculinity. This is not to say that Pseudo Marcel is neve r harsh in his judgements of homosexuality throughout the novel; he is. But to say that he treats Saint Loup's homosexuality with the same curiosity and understanding that he occasionally exhibits would be false. Several parallels can be witnessed betw een Pseudo Marcel's initial oversimplified examinations and constructions and the dismantling process of these visions of the hyper masculinized and hyper feminized characters of the novel when they are no longer in the position of caregiving. In this anal ysis, I argue that Saint Loup's homosexuality functions as a mechanism for viewing the differences between a theoretical as opposed to a personal understanding of homosexuality, which can be taken as a critique or commentary on the general attitudes or tre nds of French society concerning homosexuality during the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries. Whereas Pseudo Marcel intimates a naturalness and complete understanding in the non normative behaviors of Charlus, who is a distant acquaintance, he presents a v ery different vision of Saint Loup, who engages in homosexual relationships, succumbs to inversion and is viewed as artificial and callous. This same phenomenon occurs with the grandmother, as other characters fall ill, but it is only the grandmother who i s put through the process of physical and behavioral division because of her illness. Just as the grandmother's changing bodily statuses and behavioral traits are complicated through her physical deterioration, Saint Loup's physical deterioration and behav ioral change is brought on by what the narrator views as a discordance between his biological sex and his sexual desires.
63 Both characters are emblematic of the narrator's tendency towards constructing identities and then eventually becoming disillusioned with these constructed individuals. In the case of his caregivers, Pseudo Marcel is so hurt by the loss of their caregiving that he must divorce the living memory of their past selves from their present, struggling incarnations. In some wa ys, the parallel between the two characters can be viewed as a commentary on the dangers of quick judgement and discrimination based on identity, but as I will show in the conclusion, Saint Loup and the grandmother are remembered after their deaths with ve ry disparate judgements on the part of Pseudo Marcel.
64 Conclusion In order to give a full perspective on the way Pseudo Marcel's caregivers are constructed throughout the novel, my conclusion will be twofold. First, I will c omplete my analysis of the narrative arcs of caregiving past the deaths of the caregivers, who both predecease the narrator protagonist. The great difference between how Pseudo Marcel remembers the grandmother and Saint Loup allows me to situate my previou s findings on the ways in which physical illness and homosexuality tear at the fabric of Pseudo Marcel's caregiving relationships within the scope of the novel as a whole. I will look at how Pseudo Marcel deals with the loss of his caregivers and consider the differences in his final reflections on them. Although the pretext for the caregiving relationships rests in the fact that Pseudo Marcel is ill, it is significant that both of the caregiving figures die before the narrator, neither of them surviving a t the close of the novel. Since the two caregivers die at different points in the novel, Pseudo Marcel dedicates two independent amounts of time constructing to memories of the characters who supported him during his times of need. Remembering and Reas sembling the Grandmother Caregiver: The Intermittencies of the Heart The grandmother's decline is highly dramatic and the account given by Pseudo Marcel is extremely detailed. The passages centering on her illness and deterioration completely consume Pse udo Marcel's thoughts as he spends every moment of the grandmother's decline right at her side. The dramatic tone of the grandmother's death
65 scene ends rather abruptly, however, since her passing marks the end of a section of the novel. Immed iately after Pseudo Marcel comments on the young, girlish spectacle of his grandmother's dead body the narrative shifts gears and the grandmother is not referenced for some time after. A year after the grandmother's death, Pseudo Marcel returns to Balbec, where his grandmother's affection stood in opposition to the treatment he received at home from his parents. On his first trip to Balbec, the absence of Pseudo Marcel's mother allows for the grandmother to coddle Pseudo Marcel and it is here that the careg iving relationship truly blossoms. Returning to Balbec without his grandmother, Pseudo Marcel is confronted with a string of memories centering on his grandmother and her caregiving. The passages documenting his return to Balbec include a section titled Th e Intermittencies of the Heart, and it is here that the narrator finally reflects on his grandmother and her absence. Upon his return to Balbec, Pseudo Marcel experiences an involuntary memory of his grandmother, sparked by his completion of an act of car e that she previously performed for him during her lifetime. Specifically, the action of bending over to untie his shoes (an act the grandmother performed during the caregiving process) triggers a remembrance of his grandmother as she was during her term a s his caregiver. The beginning of this section of the novel is marked by uncharacteristically short sentences, some of them only fragments. Pseudo Marcel relates that he experiences a leine episode of the Overture in which the narrator is drawn back to images of his youth, Pseudo Marcel becomes immersed in the memory of his caregiving grandmother and her acts of maternal love.
66 In the most referenced moment of Proust's wo rk, the madeleine scene, an involuntary memory allows for the narrator to reconstruct an entire image of his childhood. Before this quintessential series of flashbacks, he was able to only remember a small portion of his experiences from his youth which w ere all fraught with the doom of not receiving a goodnight kiss from his mother. Once the involuntary memory is sparked, however, he relates all manner of experiences, ranging from events that made him wildly happy or curious to those that prompted fear, f rustration or sadness. When Pseudo Marcel stooping over my fatigue, the tender, preoccupied, disappointed face of my grandmother... for the first time since the afternoon o f her stroke in the Champs Elys es, I Similar to the madeleine episode, the involuntary memory of his grandmother brought on by completing her acts of caregiving for h imself allow Pseudo Marcel to reconstruct an image of the grandmother as caregiver, and to unite the two disparate figures that of the caregiver and that of the dying woman that he worked so diligently to construct once she was taken ill. Having returned to the hotel at Balbec and performed the act of taking off his boots before bed, Pseudo Marcel's is whisked back into the world of his living, healthy caregiving grandmother. His reflections on her caregiving are all appreciative, apologetic for his harsh er judgements, and relatively positive. There is a general tone of solemnity, as he must come to terms with the fact that he did not give his grandmother due praise during her caregiving years. He recognizes that he selfishly took from his grandmother
67 and understands the amount of effort she went through to secure his every comfort. He also must come to terms with the fact that he can never have her back something that Pseudo Marcel has obviously not registered until the involuntary memory is sparked (II: 783 787). It may seem strange that the narrator had not recognized or reflected on the absence of his grandmother until a year after her passing. Yet this sort of belated realization of past events serves as a main theme in Proust's novel, and constantly affects the way in which Pseudo Marcel understands and evaluates the world around him. The narrator realizes that he will never again live under his grandmother's supervision and care; furthermore, he is incapable of rectifying his previous behavior towards her during her time of illness. Pseudo and thought about her also, but behind my words and thoughts, those of an ungrateful, selfish, cruel young man, there had never been anythi ng that resembled my grandmother, because, in my frivolity, my love of pleasure, my familiarity with the spectacle of her ill (II:783). Here, Pseudo Marcel points to some elements of the passage of time that restructure his understanding of who his grandmother had been. The most prominent element centers on his own actual progression and development, from a selfish young man to an individual capable of understanding other s' sufferings and motivations. It is also important that the narrator expresses that he was trapped within the memory of his grandmother's ill health, as this illness was the catalyst for Pseudo Marcel's move to fracture the grandmother into two separate figures in the first place. Her
68 illness was what prompted Pseudo Marcel to outline the behavioral distinctions between his caregiving grandmother and the dying grandmother, splitting the single figure into a liminal period in which the memory of his well and caregiving grandmother lay dormant. With the onset of the involuntary memory, Pseudo Marcel is able to reconnect the different grandmothers he had constructed, and they are united through his appreciation of her caregiving and the sadness he feels at realizing that she is indeed lost to him forever. Pseudo Marcel continues to evaluate his own behavior towards his grandmother, recognizing changes in himself running parallel to those that the grandmother experienced. The grandmother's efforts to look good for her photo shoot with Saint Loup marked an initial shift in Pseudo Marcel's opinion of her due to her behavior. It is eventually revealed that the grandmother was in fact trying to disguise signs of illness that were changing the appearance of her face. When he reflects upon his callousness at this time, Pseudo unable to concea l from her what I thought of the ridiculous childishness of the coquetry with which she posed for him [Saint Loup]... had muttered a few impatient words, which, I had sensed... had struck home; it was I whose heart they were rending, now that the consolati empathy on the part of Pseudo Marcel, it becomes evident that through this consuming involuntary memory, he is capable of understanding the grandmother as a fleshed out and en tire being, one who followed a trajectory similar to his own of growth, change and
69 being affected by physical illness. It is notable that in the passage above, Pseudo Marcel in part continues his selfish analysis of the situation, adding that he is the one suffering since she is no longer around to suffer from his harsh comments. It can be suggested that while analyzing his own behavior, Pseudo Marcel becomes so comfortable in the vision of his grandmother as caregiver that he even partially r eturns to the childishly selfish tone of his first days at Balbec. The Intermittencies of the Heart shows how Pseudo Marcel reassembles a complete vision of the grandmother, incorporating all of the experiences that he had with her. This is important, s ince the narrator spent most of his waking time with her. He experienced all of his short comings with her, and hers were eventually experienced by him. The two characters display an incredibly intimate relationship centered around care, and this final ref lection leaves the reader with all elements of Pseudo Marcel's understanding of his grandmother, through her caregiving and illness. In Pseudo Marcel's final evaluation, the grandmother stands as one of the more whole, nuanced characters of the novel. Simi larly, the relationship between Pseudo Marcel and his grandmother is left as one of the most personal and all encompassing experiences of the narrator's life, one that allows him to feel ashamed of his own behavior, to feel thankful for her acts of caregiv ing and her great love, and to feel selfishly and somewhat unselfishly saddened by her absence. Saint Loup's Death and Pseudo Marcel's Reflections Volumes after Pseudo Marcel experiences the involuntary memory of his
70 grandmother's caregiving he is notified of the death of his other former caregiver, Saint Loup. Pseudo Marcel and Saint Loup's relationship was originally conflicted due to Saint Loup's time commitments brought on by his service in the military. This relationship was further tr oubled by Pseudo Marcel's realization that Saint Loup engaged in homosexual relationships, which pushes the narrator to disassociate himself from his former caregiver. It can be inferred that one reason that Pseudo Marcel is made so uncomfortable by Saint Loup's homosexuality lies in the previous structure of their caregiving relationship, which was very intimate and personal, and was based on a bodily need of the narrator protagonist's. During their days at Balbec, Saint Loup aids Pseudo Marcel, putting t he narrator in a highly feminine position in contrast to the supposedly virile but potentially homosexual Saint Loup. The notification of Saint Loup's death comes in the volume of La recherche titled Time Regained. This section presents several changes in the individuals known to the narrator throughout the novel after the passage of time. Pseudo Marcel remarks on the process of aging and takes a head count of those who have passed away, those who have stayed the same, and those who have changed drasticall y. It is at this point that the narrator receives word that Saint Loup has been killed in battle, valiantly defending the troops under his command as they retreated to a place of safety. In parallel to the masculinity of Saint Loup's caregiving during the Balbec years, the masculine caregiver's death reflects an effort to lay down his life in order to secure safety and comfort for others in a manly arena, even after he is exposed as a homosexual. This manner of death speaks to the fact that although Pseudo Marcel perceives in Saint Loup a fixed change
71 Loup figure may have existed up until his dying day. Yet Pseudo Marcel's final evaluation of Saint Loup is in almost no way parallel to the narrator's final evaluation of his relationship with his grandmother. Unlike his remembrance and reassembling of the grandmother, Pseudo Marcel's reflections on Saint Loup come immediately after he is notified that Saint Loup is dead. In o pposition to the grandmother's dramatic and proximal death, Pseudo Marcel does not have the same intimate experience with Saint Loup's valiant death in the remote battlefield setting. As we compare the style of the two passages, it worth noting that The In termittencies of the Heart, the section in which the grandmother is remembered, was composed earlier in Proust's writing process and revised heavily, whereas Time Regained was actually published posthumously and is a far less edited section of the novel. In considering the passages in which Pseudo Marcel reflects on the death of Saint Loup, his negativity surrounding Saint Loup's homosexuality is mitigated by his actions directly after he is notified of his former caregiver's death. Pseudo Marcel is so hu rt by the fact that Saint Loup has died that he cancels a trip he had been looking forward to in order to mourn in his hotel room for several days. Much of his reflection centers on what a shame it was that, during his lifetime, Saint Loup had abandoned th e self that Pseudo Marcel knew and loved during the days at Balbec, when the caregiver's sexuality was outwardly uncomplicated. The nature of the relationship is further complicated by the fact that Pseudo Marcel had experienced with Saint Loup a closen ess a relationship that could easily be
72 read as homoerotic in nature; he connects the passing of Saint Loup and his own emotions surrounding that death to the passing, or supposed passing, of Albertine, his most prominent love object in the n ovel. He laments that the two died young and that his recollections of both were tainted by changes that occurred in them during the course of their lives (III:878 of them performing sex ual acts with same sex partners. Pseudo Marcel's knowledge of their same sex sexual practices causes him great pain and distress, severely tainting his relationships with each of them. Although Proust was a known homosexual, his narrator is vehemently hete rosexual, and occasionally goes to great lengths to uncover instances of homosexuality in his closest friends throughout the novel. Pseudo Marcel's reflection on Saint Loup demonstrates further differences between the impression the grandmother's physica l illness had on the narrator in comparison to the social and moral decline that Pseudo Marcel projects onto Saint Loup. Two patterns emerge in Pseudo Marcel's remembrance process. The first demonstrates how Pseudo Marcel views Saint Loup's actual manner o f death, and the second highlights the narrator's decision to relegate his memory of Saint Loup to the opinions of the public. He remarks often on the impressively masculine and valiant death Saint Loup endures (III:881 882). This reflection is not always specifically about Saint Loup, but reads more like a theoretical analysis of the difficulties of war and expression of awe at the valiancy of individuals other than himself. His remembrance is very detached, and much of his analysis of Saint Loup's life li es in the opinions and voices of others who are more than mildly condemning of Saint Loup's homosexual inclinations (III:884 888). A
73 significant passage follows in which Pseudo Marcel recounts the fact that many people were not as saddened by Saint Loup's death in itself, but by the fact that only weeks before he died Saint Loup was wrapped up in a conflict between his uncle Charlus and one of his uncle's male bodied partners, Morel (III:888). Morel had for a short period been involved with Cha rlus and when Charlus discovers the affair between his nephew and former lover his jealousy over Saint Loup's romantic engagement with Morel prompts him to reveal the fact that Morel had deserted his military station, causing Morel to be severely punished. The salacious story of the love triangle between uncle, nephew and another man serve to downplay the death of the caregiver, while simultaneously pushing his errant sexual habits to the fore. Whether or not the story of Saint Loup's trysts previous to his death is true is not as important as the fact that Pseudo Marcel relegates much of his final evaluation of Saint Loup, the once perfect vision of masculine caregiving, to the words and opinions of others. As opposed to reflecting in a personal way and considering the full trajectory of their relationship as he did with the grandmother, Pseudo Marcel reflects almost exclusively on Saint Loup's life after his homosexuality is revealed. Furthermore, Saint Loup as caregiver is never fully reintegrated into the image of Saint Loup at the end of his life, and the caregiver survives in Pseudo Marcel's memory as a fragmented, morally disintegrated and behaviorally changed individual. Right before the closing paragraphs of Proust's novel, Pseudo Marcel mention s Saint human beings does not alter the image which we have reserved for them. Indeed nothing
74 is more painful than the contrast between the mutability of people and the fixity of Marcel suggests that his original image of Saint Loup was forever changed by the emergent homosexual Saint Loup, and that this image of Saint Loup, although the latter was indeed a mutable person, is what Pseudo Marcel is left with in the end. After Saint Loup dies, Pseudo Marcel is literally left without any caregivers to call on for support. It is during this period, after the caregivers have made their final appearances in th e novel, that the narrator commits himself to a sanatorium. He actually checks himself into medical facilities twice. Interestingly, Pseudo Marcel does not describe or reflect on his time spent in the sanitoria, although it is intimated that on each occasi on he spends a considerable amount of time locked away from society in these facilities. These visits function as holes in the text, or pieces of information that the narrator does not give to the reader. This choice to omit the medical episodes once the caregivers are lost is certainly interesting, and helps highlight the importance of the personal caregiving relationships that were foregrounded during Pseudo Marcel's illness in youth. Closing Words There is a considerable difference in the way in whi ch Pseudo Marcel remembers the grandmother and Saint Loup after their deaths. Because there is such a significant overlap in the characters' actions as caregivers, and since they were each constructed as visions of the feminine and masculine ideals during their caregiving years, it is clear in
75 Pseudo Marcel's final remembrance that Saint Loup's engagement in homosexual relationships is presented as linked to behavioral characteristics which irrevocably mar the reputation of even the most revere d masculine character of the novel. Although Pseudo Marcel must deal with feelings of abandonment after the caregivers' respective deaths, in the end, he is able to reunite the different identities of the grandmother in a positive way that allows for him t o see the full spectrum of his grandmother's care and love, whereas Saint Loup remains a fractured and tainted individual. I think it is important to consider the origins of this disparity in Pseudo Marcel's memory of the two similar relationship struct ures. First, it is true that both caregivers stand as the masculine and feminine ideals respectively during their terms as caregivers. Pseudo Marcel makes their gendered perfections very evident through commentary on their individual performances during th e years at Balbec. Yet it is also true that within the novel, the grandmother is functioning on a much higher level of normative gendered perfection than Saint Loup. Throughout La recherche, personal, loving caregiving relationships are exclusively carried out by women (with the exception of Saint Loup) and detached, cold and callous medical analysis is performed by male doctors. From the very outset, Pseudo Marcel is tasked with almost overcompensating for the male caregiver, constantly pointing out Saint Loup's virility, strength and manliness as he performs the acts of caregiving. Again, even when other members of society remark on the more feminine qualities of Saint Loup, Pseudo Marcel is there to quash these concerns with some imagery or metaphor relat ing Saint Loup's caregiving techniques to the actions of hunters, soldiers, or other such occupations that the narrator views as
76 stereotypically masculine. In this sense, Saint Loup's role as a caregiver is fraught from the outset, but before the masculine caregiver is revealed as homosexual, Pseudo Marcel vehemently defends his masculinity, even when Saint Loup is engaging in typically feminine roles or activities in the context of the novel at large. It is evident that Proust's narrator all ows for some subversion of certain gender stereotypes as he is navigating the social sphere of bourgeois and aristocratic France in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By allowing for Saint Loup to perform the typically feminine task of car egiving while he repeatedly enforces the masculine aspects of the task and individual is certainly subversive. Yet when it comes to sexuality, Proust, a known homosexual, constructs a heterosexual narrator protagonist who is no more flexible than the avera ge man of his time. Pseudo Marcel condemns the sexual activities that Saint Loup engages in, casting them as marginalized and deviant behaviors. The narrator is also quick to construct an entirely new identity around the homosexual Saint Loup that stems fr om certain stock images of the newly constructed homosexual both within the novel and within society at large. The fission of the individual and moral indecency that Nicole G. Alberts describes in her essay on inversion and the split self during the late n ineteenth century seems to be peeking up from every corner of Saint Loup after his true sexual behaviors are unveiled (Albert 122). It is tempting to speculate on why Pseudo Marcel may be so uncomfortable with Saint Loup's sexuality. The reasons could ra nge from concealed confusion concerning his own sexual orientation to the fear that his peers, friends and society at large will view his past relationship with Saint Loup as anything other than a friendship centered on
77 caregiving. However, th ere is not enough textual support to make a case for any one theory. Throughout La recherche, the narrator never discusses experiencing sexual desires towards same sex individuals, and constantly works to affirm his own heterosexuality and masculinity. Tho se homosexual characters who were othered because something was apparently different about them from the beginning of the text, such as Charlus, however, are afforded a much more positive depiction after Pseudo Marcel is made aware of their homosexuality in contrast to the fallen caregiver. In the cases where Pseudo Marcel is less condemning of homosexuality, he is most often pardoning characters he is not as close to as Saint Loup. is the fact that Pseudo Marcel's original impetus for constructing a masculine Saint Loup as caregiver cannot purely be read as an open mindedness concerning subversion of normative gender roles on the part of the narrator. In the end, Pseudo Marcel's needs and limitations brought on by his illness trump many other driving plot devices in the novel. It is out of the narrator's extreme needs, fears, and difficulties that drive him to allow for the gender role subversion which Saint Loup demonstr ates in his caregiving. Had Saint Loup not been outed as engaging in homosexual activities, it might have been possible for the caregiving character to chart the territory for gender subversion divorced from the difficulties brought on by his homosexual re lationships throughout the novel, with Saint Loup serving as an individual who is capable of retaining his masculinity while performing traditionally feminine acts. Yet Saint Loup's homosexuality serves to undermine not only his masculinity in the eyes of Pseudo Marcel, but by extension makes
78 the character occasionally incapable of experiencing compassion, of giving aid, and of loving selflessly, all attributes that Saint Loup was once constantly capable of. Looking at these two narrative arc s over the course of the novel reveals the growth of Pseudo Marcel and the ways in which he is unable to compromise or reconcile certain images over the course of his lifetime. It is also clear that the narrator is much more capable of feeling empathy for an individual who is in a position he can relate to. Since Pseudo Marcel is ill, he can understand and appreciate the physical stress his grandmother endured during her slow death. On the other hand, homosexuality presents difficulties for the narrator th roughout the entire novel, complicating his most intimate romantic relationship (with Albertine) and his closest friendship (with Saint Loup). These instances obviously lay the groundwork for a much more disparaging view of homosexuality and gender deviant behavior therein. At the close of the novel, Pseudo Marcel decides that the experiences he has related to the reader over the course of the novel will serve as suitable material for the production of his own work of literature. In a novel that is highly self referential and often thought of as reflective of the life of the writer itself, it is important to note that the caregivers exhibit certain traits and characteristics of Proust's, such as illness and homosexual desires. The narrator protagonist demo nstrates one of these qualities illness but illness is not nearly as complicated for a man of Proust's time to unravel as is homosexuality or the link between the two. In the end, the comparisons and contrasts between the two narrative arcs of caregiving o ffer a window into the complex views of a specific narrator, while also giving some insight into the larger social structures in place
79 during the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century in France concerning gender roles an d sexuality.
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