People are often unaware they are in a depraved relationship even when all signs make it clear. Realization hits at a particular instance, as it did to the main character in Fay Weldon’s short story “IND AFF”. Through the use of character development, the setting of the Bosnian city of Sarajevo, and the first person narrative of a young scholar, Fay Weldon develops the central theme that a timely realization of an immoral relationship can set people free. Character development is used to show how the main character changes from being a girl caught in admiration to having a sense of maturity in her relationship with the rofessor, Peter.
Weldon’s most developed character is the narrator, a young student with a passion for knowledge. This passion for knowledge creates a vibrant energy from the narrator, and Weldon does it by making her words exciting and asking multiple questions about the Princip. It’s not a mystery that the narrator sees Peter with much admiration. Peter is a professor of classical history, and he is supervising the narrator’s thesis on Greek morality. Peter’s authority position makes it natural for the narrator to admire him. The narrator says herself, “I was dependent on him for my academic uture. (Weldon 140) Besides being in a relationship with him, the narrator looks up to Peter because of his academic success and his ability to help her future. Her dependency of him, results in a form of admiration. However, her passion for learning is contrary to the professor’s. The professor takes little interest in the history of Sarajevo. He seems as though he already knows it all and answers the narrator’s questions about it. He doesn’t care about the narrator’s effort to learn, but rather show off the knowledge he already contains.
This is the first sign the two’s relationship is unfit. While the narrator admires Peter deeply, Peter shows little interest in the narrator at all. There are times when Peter doesn’t listen to the narrator speaking or switches the topic of talk. The narrator’s young and curious mind is far from the old mind of the professors, which seems to be dulling and full of agitation. This is shown by the way the professor complains. “Everything in this country comes with cucumber salad. ” (Weldon 142) The professor complains multiple times about the weather, the food, and the narrator’s facts.
Old people stereotypically complain, and the author takes note on his idea. By complaining, Peter shows he has the mind of an old person, while the narrator has a lively personality which represents her youth. At one point the professor corrects the narrator about the number of people who died in WW1, not interested in what she had to say. We are even informed that the two are not meant for each other by how they eat differently. While the student finished her salad “yonks ago” the professor was “carefully extracting the pips” from his salad.
Furthermore, the quote shows how the age difference is a factor why their relationship won’t work. The narrator’s youth is hown how she quickly devours her salad and is ready for the next part of the meal. On the contrary, the professor shows his old and cautious approach to life by taking his time to eat. As the story progresses, the narrator goes from admiring Peter to questioning their relationship. The narrator wonders why Peter is talking about his wife on what is supposed to be their holiday trip.
After a year of being together, the narrator is still being harassed by Peter with talk about his wife. Peter’s half soul sharing with his wife and the narrator is starting to be an annoyance for the narrator. She also makes the statement What was I doing with this man with thinning hair? ” (Weldon 145) Proving that age is a factor why the two should not be together. At the beginning of the story, the narrator only expresses her admiration for Peter. By the end of the story, she has questioned herself about the relationship and made the ultimate decision to leave Peter.
Unlike before, the narrator is taking a deeper look into the relationship, which shows how the narrator has matured throughout the story by asking herself questions about the relationship. Besides character development, the setting being placed in Sarajevo also shows ow it was onlya matter of time until the narrator left Peter sitting alone. The setting being placed in Sarajevo impacts the overall mood of the couple, which reveals their relationship is founded on sexual intimacy. The beginning of the story starts off by saying “It rained in Sarajevo, and we had expected fine weather. (Weldon 140)
Not only were they experiencing bad weather in Sarajevo, but also Serbia and Croatia where they had visited prior to arriving at Sarajevo. This simple description of the setting sets up how the rest of the story pans out for the narrator and Peter’s trip in Sarajevo. Both Peter and the arrator were looking to have a romantic and peaceful time on their holiday to see if their relationship was the “Real Thing”. Instead, their holiday experience was that in which resembled the weather. Peter and the narrator were not getting along. There was a lack of sexual intimacy partly because of the weather.
The narrator explains how the weather was too wet to do what they “loved to do” which was making love at a picnic. Also the hotel room in which they were staying was “small and dark” and was not a very romantic place for the two. So as the “black clouds swishing gently all over Europe” (Weldon 141) ontinued, the couple’s intimacy also continued to fade. The author makes it clear that the relationship is entirely based on sexual acts. The narrator subconsciously knows this to be true also. But It is not until she comes to realize at the end of the story that she learns the relationship is not meant to be.
While the weather in Sarajevo is a reflection of the couple’s doomed relationship, the history of Sarajevo is another. The setting also contributes to the theme by implementing the history of Sarajevo. The author decides to include the history of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. By intertwining the accounts of Princip and his attempts to assassinate the Archduke with the narrator’s unconventional relationship with Peter, the author shows how the narrator compares her experience in coming to realization with the Princip’s opportunity to assassinate the archduke.
She relates to him by having an opportunity. They both have an opportunity. Princip gets his opportunity while sitting down in the cafe. The Archduke arrives outside and this is when Princip “went for it”. The Princip took his opportunity for what it was worth and became a Hero by freeing his nation of a fascist leader. Likewise, the narrator was presented a couple opportunities as well. One was the opportunity insisted by her sister Claire to “Just go for it” talking about taking her chances to get in a relationship with Peter.
The second opportunity, the one that most closely relates to that of the Princip’s, is to leave Peter. The narrator is waiting for food in the restaurant when the waiter gives her a dose of Inordinate affection. She takes this feeling of sexual desire as the final sign to bring her to realization that her relationship with Peter is not meant to be. She then leaves Peter freeing herself from a halfhearted elationship in the same way the Princip freed himself and his country from a fascist leader. The first person narrative gives the reader a more in depth insight into the narrator’s oblivious mind.
For the reader, it doesn’t take long to question the stability of the twos relationship. It is understood that there is a big age difference between the couple, and that Peter already has a wife. These two facts alone could lead one to think that their relationship isn’t one that will last. But despite the reader’s opinion, the narrator feels as if she is deeply in love. Her love or him is mostly the result of their physical intimacy, which the narrator comments multiple times on. She says “He said I had a good mind but not a first-class mind and somehow I didn’t take it as an insult.
I had a feeling first-class minds weren’t all that good in she doesn’t care so much as long as she feels she’s good in bed. The narrator, being so engrossed in the physical aspect of the ed. ” (Weldon 140) Wh Peter insults her intelligence, relationship, disregards this as an insult. Similarly, the narrator doesn’t seem to care Peter is married. She sees it as a competition that she’s willing to compete in. She makes the statement, “And so far I was winning hands down. It didn’t seem much of a contest at all. (Weldon 141)
The narrator simply lets Peter try her out by being in a relationship with both his wife and the narrator. The narrator does not see this as a sign to a pre-doomed relationship, but as an opportunity to win over his affection. Another warning the narrator casually bypasses in her thoughts, is when she makes the statement “They had been married for twenty-four years; they had stopped loving each other a long time ago, of course – but there would be a fearful ersonal upheaval entailed if he decided to leave permanently and shack up, as he put it, with me. (Weldon 141)
Peter yet again has insulted the narrator by using the words “shack up”. This is an insult because he is supposedly in a relationship with the narrator, and by him putting living together in terms of shacking up degrades the idea of living with someone who is truly loved. Shacking up would be a better term used for staying a couple of nights at an old friend’s place. So when the narrator casually moves past this insult, it is safe to believe she is not in the right state of mind. Therefore, the narrator is oblivious to the fact that Peter is not a guy she should be in a relationship with.
She is blinded by what she thinks is love, but in reality is sexual intimacy. Coming to realization is done by seeing the signs presented. Many signs were shown to let the narrator know that her relationship with Peter was wrong, and when she realized the relationship wouldn’t work, she was filled with the satisfaction of freedom. The author creatively uses characterization, the setting and history of the Princip, and first person narrative to develop a central theme that a realization of a bad relationship brings peace.