The Counterlife - Part 5 Christendom, pages 306-324 Summary & Analysis

This Study Guide consists of approximately 36 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Counterlife.
This section contains 439 words
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Part 5 Christendom, pages 306-324 Summary

Nathan is surprised at how angry he has become. He thinks that perhaps it is because he has never encountered outright anti-Semitism. Nathan knows that unless he does something immediately, his relationship with Maria will be irreparably damaged. He takes a taxicab to the house he and Maria are having renovated and thinks about recent events. He wonders what to say to Maria when he returns, and then he wonders if she will even be there.

Nathan receives a letter. Maria writes that she has left him and the book. Maria speaks of Nathan writing about his own illness and death and his writing about his brother's illness and death. She wonders if one day he will decide to write a fictional account of something bad happening to Phoebe. Maria questions why Nathan invented Sarah's hateful attack and why he invented the anti-Semitic woman in the restaurant. Maria even refers to a specific page number where she should have left the story.

The remainder of the text consists of Nathan's reply to Maria. In it he rejects the notion of self, and he says that England taught him more about being a Jew than a lifetime in the United States.

Part 5 Christendom, pages 306-324 Analysis

For the remainder of the novel, there is no more dialogue. After a section where Nathan describes his reaction to the argument with Maria, the remainder of the text consists of first a letter from Maria to Nathan and then Nathan's reply. It seems that Maria has read the manuscript because she makes many references that only someone who had read all the different versions of the story could know. Also she makes reference to a specific page number where she wishes that she had stopped being a part of the story. The reader cannot be certain of anything at this point. It is entirely possible that there is no character named Maria because the one Nathan refers to as Maria says she does not like being called that, and at one point Nathan refers to her as "Marietta."

If all the discussion is about a manuscript, it seems that the two characters communicating in the final part of Part 5 never left New York, and the depiction of England was a product of Nathan's writing. Both characters make comments indicating that they still inhabit the same building in New York.

Perhaps just like Nathan says, there is no self, but just versions of characters that one adopts to suit a situation: there is no one real story, but several versions of a story.

This section contains 439 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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