Elliot Paper Different parts of the world are blessed with vastly opposite cultures. While many appreciate new and excellent ways of life, one must realize that It is a large adjustment, and that the perception of a country Is not necessarily the way that It actually Is. More specifically, a common misconception Is the adjacency of European and American culture. To the opposite point, in Vladimir Nabobs Elliot, there is an apparent clash of these two cultures as perfectly illustrated through the character of Humbler Humbler.
Nabob uses the characters of Elliot and Charlotte to perfectly illustrate Humbler’s movement from the life instinct to the death instinct in relation to his view of America, and more specifically, his love, Elliot. Early in the novel, the protagonist, Humbler explains his soon to be home as “America, the country of rosy children and great trees, where life would be such an improvement on dull dingy Paris” (up. 27). Humbler comes from a background overflowing with education and sophistication and Imagines his new American life as something exciting and fun.
While Humbler Initially thought that America would be a great place, as the novel progresses he soon finds out that he Is wrong. He quickly gets wrapped up In the obsessive brutality of American life during this time period and with expectations of something more civilized than his previous European lifestyle, Humbler was vastly disappointed. By the time the novel concludes, he describes America as a wasteland. What starts out as a way to get more into his education and pursue his studies, turns into an obsessive and dooming part of Humbler’s life.
The back of the book contrasts “hyperlinked European” and the “cheerful barbarism of postwar America. ” In Humbler’s mind, his ideal American lifestyle revolves around his precious “nymphet” Elliot. Elliot represents Humbler’s new American life, however, she is drawn to Humbler not because of the person that he Is, but because of the glamour associated with him. Throughout the whole road trip, Elliot gets away with anything, much Like the typical American brat.
Meanwhile, Humbler admires the open American road and the freedom associated with Is, while Elliot takes It for granted and Is only Interested in the next gift that Humbler will get her, or the next place that they will stop to eat. Humbler tries to sophisticate Elliot?exposing her to art, reading, and history, but she wants nothing to do with it. For the second road trip, she only agrees to go if they go where she wants to go, and Humbler allows this.
The school that Elliot goes to, Beardsley, creates housewives, and when Humbler sits down and speaks with a faculty member, she openly admits that there is no actual learning. This is a direct contrast to the education and the love for learning that Humbler has. During the oratorio scene Humbler ponders, And I catch myself thinking today that our long journey had only defiled with a sinuous trail of slime the lovely, trustful, dreamy, enormous country that by then, in retrospect, was no more to us than a collection of go-eared maps, ruined tour books, old tires, and her sobs In the night (up. 75). Humbler describes his confusion with this feelings about America. He realizes that he has created this idealized image of a “nymphet” in his world, and that this is American people, at the same time he is so mesmerism’s by its youth. In the above quotation, Humbler realizes how much of a waste this trip was for him. At the end of the novel, the tone is very melancholic because Humbler finally realizes what he has done to Elliot: corrupted her. While Humbler realizes that dreams and fantasies of
American life may stay permanent, he fails to acknowledge that time goes on. The ultimate paradox is when Elliot leaves European Humbler for American Guilty, whom Nabob describes as very average and uneducated. Elliot is not bored by Guilty as she is by Humbler. Further, when Elliot wants money from Humbler at the end, she is trying to get back what he took from her. At the end of the novel during Elliot and Humbler’s final conversation, Elliot explains, “He broke my heart. You merely broke my life” (up. 279).
It is at this point in the novel that Humbler truly realizes what he has done to his Elliot. He has taken this ideal image of perfection to him and corrupted it. This little girl who was once the source of all of his pleasure, physically and mentally was now destroyed because of him. In Fraud’s world, this would correspond perfectly to his idea of the pleasure principle. The pleasure principle says that an individual innately seeks out those physical and psychological experiences that brings him pleasure, and avoids those that do not.
Elliot is the epitome of pleasure for Humbler. He takes advantage of her sexually and describes throughout the novel that his sexual experiences with his nymphet are the highlight f his life. From a psychological point-of-view, Elliot is Humbler’s source of happiness and Joy. She means everything to him and simply being around her brings Humbler pleasure. Humbler couples this idea of Elliot as his ideal nymphet with his pristine interpretation of American life. Humbler, however, knows that this idea of a nymphet is only a temporary source of pleasure.
No female can ever fit into this idea that he has made up in his head, so essentially he is committing suicide. He knows that this nymphet stage that he has created for his own personal satisfaction is not realistic. Elliot will only temporarily be a nymphet; inevitably, she will age out of this stage. By letting himself get so utterly consumed in Elliot, Humbler is exemplifying Fraud’s death instinct. Freud explains his death drive as the intentional movement toward death, self-destruction, and inorganic life.
While it might seem that Elliot has done this to him, Humbler consciously does this to himself by not accepting the fact that this is a temporary situation; this proves that he subconsciously is driving himself towards misery. The brief but enlightening relationship between Humbler and Charlotte is another relationship that contrasts the two cultures tremendously, and brings out the disgust that Humbler has for the American stereotype housewife. While he is inwardly demeaning of Charlotte, there is also a part of her that catches Humbler off guard.
Humbler describes Charlotte as a woman of principle while also stating, “Her smile that has been such a contrived thing, thenceforth became the radiance of utter adoration” (up. 76). Humbler sees Charlotte as a youthful object more than he sees her as a person. He envisions America as this place where beauty and youth run rampant and there is no hardship. Novak strategically characterizes Charlotte and has her make this boring transformation–she goes from being a single parent and very involved with Elliot to a whole different person in the span of days.
Once Humbler accepts her proposal, she decorates the house and moves around this is non genuine and American of her and starts to believe that American life for her is about how other people perceive them as a couple. As a result, Humbler talks about having something published in the paper about the two of them in order to please his new wife. At the same time, he speaks of Charlotte as no more than a impel housewife and mocks the superficiality of her American life. P. 83 He compares Charlotte to his ex-wife when he says, “Had Charlotte been Valerie, I would have known how to handle the situation… Anything of the sort in regard to Charlotte was unthinkable. Bland American Charlotte frightened me” (up. 84). It is at this point that Humbler realizes with the utmost certainty that there is no actual substance to Charlotte, yet she is still not able to be entirely controlled. He even goes on to explain that “[his] lighthearted dream of controlling her through her passion for me was all ring” (up. 84). He speaks about how he could get away with treating Valerie horribly, but he would not dare do the same to Charlotte. The ways of American women were very much new to Humbler.
He crystallizes his opinion of his wife when he describes her as “Charlotte, who did not notice the falsity of all the everyday conventions and rules of behavior, and foods, and books, and people she doted upon… ” (up. 87). Humbler clearly feels this way about not only Charlotte, but also the general American woman. He realizes that America is about the falsities and image and not bout anything with real context. Throughout the novel, the reader realizes that both Charlotte and Humbler are selfish people, but Humbler tries to conceal this.
Perhaps Nabob is trying to reveal the difference in the actions of Europeans and Americans in the way that they cover it up. Charlotte gets whatever she wants whenever she wants it. Her life is a demonstration of the pleasure principle and when Humbler comes into her life and she has no need for Dolores anymore so she dismisses her. The selfishness directly connects to what Freud says when he explains that people unction for their best interests. Charlotte (and Americans) want for many things and they want it immediately.
Americans create a situation for themselves of perpetual adolescence, which is why Humbler describes Charlotte as having a youthful light to her, even though she is a grown adult. Clearly Nabob is looking to exploit that differences between the old world and new world ideals. The old world invades the new world and essentially takes advantage of it, Just like Humbler takes advantage of Elliot. Humbler has the urge to keep exploring and even traveling to Canada– essentially he is occupied with anything he can derive pleasure from.
Nabob was born in Europe and moved the the US in 1940 where he became a novelist, poet, critic, translator, and professor before moving to Switzerland in 1977. It is interesting that Nabobs novel so much mirrors his path in life when it comes to location. Perhaps Nabob has even more insight into the ideals of Europe versus America than the reader recognizes. For all we know, he could have been applying these Freudian concepts to his own life and mirroring them in the life and emotions of Humbler Humbler.