Simplifying People

Simplifying People July 29, 2016

Louis, the dying, grasping, hateful narrator of Francois Mauriac’s Vipers’ Tangle believes the “tangle of vipers was outside myself,” forming a “hideous circle” consisting of his wife and children. He has occasional moments of lucidity when he recognizes that the satanic nest is really within, as in this self-reflection following a rare, frank conversation with his wife, Isa:

“Is it possible for us, for nearly half a century, to observe only one side of the person who shares our life? Can it be that, out of habit, we pick and choose among the things they say and the things they do, retaining only that which nurtures our grievances and perpetuates our resentment? Have we a fatal tendency to simplify other people – to eliminate all those features which might be regarded as extenuating, which might render more human the caricature of them which our hatred needs for its justification?” (184).

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