The Only Story Themes & Motifs

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Pain and Fulfillment

In the story’s examination of the various contradictions and challenges inherent within the concept of love, the narrative seeks to utilize Paul and Susan’s relationship as demonstrating how fulfillment and suffering are not only inevitable in a romantic relationship, but are also often simultaneous phenomena. The narrative first introduces this idea by opening the novel as follows: “Would you rather love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less, and suffer the less?” (3).

In this way, the narrative immediately draws a thematic connection between fulfillment and suffering that underlies the story of Susan and Paul’s relationship. At first, the narrative highlights the passion and complete fulfillment that Paul experiences in the early stages of the relationship: “I was nineteen, and I knew that love was incorruptible, proof against time and tarnish” (61). However, it also foreshadows the following tribulations: “And...

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This section contains 2,315 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Only Story Study Guide
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