The Counterlife - Part 4 Gloustershire, pages 182-205 Summary & Analysis

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Part 4 Gloustershire, pages 182-205 Summary

Nathan writes that a year after being put on heart medication he does not have the same temptations as his brother Henry. While Henry had his dental assistant as his source of temptation and infidelity, Nathan craves something different. He has recently met a neighbor woman seventeen years younger than him. She has recently had a baby, and she is ignored by her husband. Even though Nathan cannot have sex, they begin an affair. Nathan feels affection for both Maria and her daughter Phoebe.

During Maria's visits, they discuss many things. Maria says Nathan's plans for the surgery are foolish because Americans do not stay married long enough to justify such a risky procedure. Nathan resists the idea and says he loves her and wants to have a child with her. Maria says that Nathan will not still love her when she is pregnant. Maria also asks Nathan why he specifically picked her. Nathan answers that he did it for love, but Maria points out that Nathan has been in love before. She also says that she is far too conservative to be his type.

Maria's husband is away for two weeks, and during that time Nathan, Maria, and Phoebe live together. Maria says she has never dated a Jew. She says that all of her relationships have been with the same type of English men.

Two days before Maria's husband is scheduled to return, she has a vivid dream that she discusses with Nathan. She is being pursued by a man in a green tweed suit. To get away, she jumps into the water and begins swimming. Other people on the shore shout to her and try to help her. They point in the direction she should swim and shout, "Judea! Judea!"

To Maria, the dream is so simple that it does not even require interpretation. Nathan does not immediately understand, so Maria explains. She says that green and tweed are obvious symbols for England and also her English husband. The reference to Judea pertains to her contemplation about leaving her husband and marrying a Jewish man. It seems that in her subconscious, she views a future with Nathan as a sanctuary and an escape from her present unhappy marriage.

Nathan and Maria continue to discuss many things. Maria says that although it is frustrating to be unable to have a physical relationship with Nathan, she feels a degree of power she thinks she would not feel otherwise. Nathan asks if Maria and her husband still have a physical relationship, and she says they do. In fact, she says they have relations often, yet the encounters lack much emotional content. Maria also says that Nathan is very different from her husband and perhaps that is part of her attraction to him since she has always wanted to get away from that background.

Nathan asks why Maria married so young, and she says that she simply did not know any better. Based on what information she had at the time, it seemed like a good decision. She had no brothers, so she did not know what to look for in a man. Her husband was good looking and funny. Also, Maria doubted that she had the potential for a career of her own.

Maria tries to talk Nathan out of the surgery, but he insists that he wants to marry her and have a child with her. He is absolutely determined to have the risky surgical operation. Maria agrees to marry him.

Part 4 Gloustershire, pages 182-205 Analysis

Part 4 begins with a first person narrator, Nathan. It is not immediately clear if this is a back track in time or yet another alternate version of reality. It is also not clear if Nathan is saying that Henry has already had the surgery he is contemplating having, or if Nathan is merely using the example of Henry's affair with his dental assistant as an example of the types different things that tempt the two brothers.

As the talks between Maria and Nathan progress, it becomes clear that this is not simply a back track in time. It is a completely different version than any that have been presented thus far. Yet even in this version there are some things about Nathan's character that remain consistent. Maria does not trust Nathan not to reveal their discussions in a future book.

In the conversation of Maria's dream, the distinction between Judea and the West Bank seems to be an echo of an alternate version of the story as presented in the previous part of the novel.

This section contains 773 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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