While it may be socially rejected, deviance allows individuals to make choices for themselves and develop their own beliefs and ideas about what they consider right or wrong.
“’You think,’ [Jacques] persisted, ‘that my life is shameful because my encounters are. And they are. But you should ask yourself why they are’” (56).
Jacques is asking David to think critically about why being gay is so bad. It is assumed that it is wrong and shameful because society advertises that, but the only reason homophobia is promoted is because it deviates from the wishes of the dominant culture. Because this belief is enforced through restrictive laws and social practices, it is widely accepted without much thought.
“You want to leave Giovanni because he makes you stink. You want to despise Giovanni because he is not afraid of the stink of love. You want to kill him in the name of all your lying little moralities” (141).
Here Giovanni challenges David to understand his thoughts. He calls out David’s hypocrisy in loving him while simultaneously being ashamed of their relationship. “Lying little moralities” points out the charade David attempts. On one hand, he wishes to be known and loved and has found that with Giovanni. Yet, he also wants to maintain a stereotypical sense of masculinity by being married to a woman and having children. He feels that in order to be happy he must fit within social norms.
“Sometimes he actually wore a skirt and high heels…People said that he was very nice, but I confess that his utter grotesqueness made me uneasy; perhaps in the same way that the sight of monkeys eating their own excrement turns some people’s stomachs. The might not mind so much if monkeys did not— grotesquely—resemble human beings” (27).
Even though David himself is a queer man, this person dressing outside of their norms makes him uncomfortable. The idea that people can deviate from social norms and be totally comfortable doing so makes David anxious. He is almost jealous of the self-acceptance this person displays while at the same time also feeling that someone who he believes is a man should behave “like a man”. This notion challenges David’s ideas regarding masculinity.
In regard to Giovanni’s room, it is small, “not large enough for two” (85), messy, and eccentric with various items strewn about (86-7). This is a space where David and Giovanni are allowed to be messy. They are allowed to deviate from social pressure and express themselves (both sexually and emotionally). At the same time, the messiness of the room represents the mess within both men. Giovanni carries past hurt with him in regard to the loss of his child. David carries fear toward almost every human emotion as well as shame about who he is and what he has done.
“life in that room seemed to be occurring under the sea. Time flowed past indifferently above us; hours and days had no meaning” (75).
The room is a fantasy. It is a temporary escape from real life. David and Giovanni can be and do whatever they wish with no regard for others’ expectations.
“I was to destroy this room and give Giovanni a new and better life. This life could only be my own, which, in order to transform Giovanni’s, must first become a part of Giovanni’s room” (88).
This is a representation of the inner struggle David feels. He wants to free himself and Giovanni and be able to live an honest life. This sentiment—of giving Giovanni a better life—represents hope. David hopes for happiness, acceptance, and ultimately, love. Being with Giovanni was the closest David ever came to being known. His downfall, however, is that his fear of being truly known outweighs his desire for such a connection.
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