Why should I have thought I was anything other than a girl? Because I was attracted to a girl? That happened all the time. It was happening more than ever in 1974. It was becoming a national pastimte. My ecstatic intuition about myself was now deeply suppressed. How long I would have managed to keep it down is anybody's guess. But in the end it wasn't upt o me. The big things never are. Birth, I mean, and death. And love. And what love bequeaths to us before we're born.Pg. 388, The Gun on the Wall
Every once in while Eugenides seems lazy to me. There was a passage (although I can't find it now) where Cal admits finding breasts attractive, but the narrating Cal dismisses it as consistent with every other person with testosterone. I can see how most people would skim right over this, but doesn't it seem on point with the whole book that not everyone with testosterone finds breasts attractive?
And then there's the passage quoted above. Sure the rhetorical ambiguity of love is a great literary device, but why even stick it in that paragraph? I'm sold on the unchoosable nature of birth and death, but love? I'm reminded of Fiddler on the Roof where Tevye and Golde sing "Do You Love Me?"
(Golde)Do I love you? For twenty-five years
I've washed your clothes
Cooked your meals, cleaned your house
Given you children, milked the cow
After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?
(Tevye)Golde, The first time I met you
Was on our wedding day
I was scared
(Golde)I was shy
(Tevye)I was nervous
(Golde)So was I
(Tevye)But my father and my mother
Said we'd learn to love each other
And now I'm asking, Golde
Do you love me?
(Golde)I'm your wife
(Tevye)"I know..."But do you love me?
(Golde)Do I love him?
For twenty-five years
I've lived with him
Fought him, starved with him
Twenty-five years my bed is his
If that's not love, what is?
(Tevye)Then you love me?
(Golde)I suppose I do
(Tevye)And I suppose I love you too
(Both)It doesn't change a thing
But even so
After twenty-five years
It's nice to know
The crucial aspect of love in question, of course, is attraction. That's Eugenides meaning I wouldn't dispute, but I'm not sure it's a meaning that is always consciously attributed to the word "love" in passages like the one I quoted above.
One of the parts of Oaks interview on lds.org I found interesting was his discussion of whether SSA members should enter heterosexual marriages. He said:
...Persons who have this kind of challenge that they cannot control could not enter marriage in good faith.
On the other hand, persons who have cleansed themselves of any transgression and who have shown their ability to deal with these feelings or inclinations and put them in the background, and feel a great attraction for a daughter of God and therefore desire to enter marriage and have children and enjoy the blessings of eternity — that’s a situation when marriage would be appropriate.
Feel a great attraction? What kind of attraction? This seems confusing to me. If it's a strong sexual attraction he's talking about, then why is it even an interesting topic? To marry someone you love to whom you have a strong sexual attraction isn't particularly problematic, is it? It's when the attraction is strong, but not sexual, that things get complicated--when the strong sexual attractions are likely to never be there. But Oaks doesn't get quite that specific.