May 10, 2002
Life Response in "An
Affair to Remember"
- The title mentions “an affair” which gives a moral twist to the
whole story that is really not reflected by the final emotions of the
characters. It is certainly not an affair. It is a lived emotion or moment
of truth in human emotions. The fine emotions of the characters
imperfectly grasped by the writer of the story give an angularity and
twist to the course of events, rendering soft moments into sharp
- The theme is a fine one. The author has not realised the fineness
of the theme. For him it is a story. It is a story where the characters
and emotions they have outgrow the dimensions of the writer.
- If Nicolo Ferrante was so popular and known all over the world, he
is out of the romantic picture. As he is a philanderer, his love affair is
doomed from the beginning because he has already attained fame worldwide.
The energies for accomplishment in his life were over and he had no more
energy for a serious accomplishment like marriage. That is why they could
not meet at the Empire State building as planned.
- If a partnership contains a weak and a strong person, any
deficiency on the part of one will be paid for by the weaker member. Terry
pays for his weakness.
- He has betrayed his Parisian girlfriend, Gabriela, and when she calls
him, she says she wants to stick a knife in his back. This anger of hers
falls on Terry.
- He tries to put off Gabriela by a ploy of saying the phone is
disconnected. Life plays a ploy on him.
- He tries to give Terry genuine love. That love carries his past
which descends on her as a crippled body.
- Women want to adore him in spite of his unfaithfulness. He won’t
be able to be faithful to anyone and even when he offers faithfulness,
life will prevent it.
- He tells Mr. Hathaway on the ship that he cheats at cards, as an
excuse to avoid the man’s invitation to play. He is a self-aware,
- Terry finds his cigarette case, which he left on a chair. As a
joke, on first meeting Nickie, she says “I am a jewel thief.” Out of an
informal joke, they have sealed their course of action.
- She refuses to immediately give it to him, saying “How do I know
it is yours?” This shows she does not want to part with it, she wants to
relate to him.
- When she mocks the man at the first meeting, it is one of the
important landmarks of their relationship.
- He follows her to her room. Six months later, he waits for her at
the Empire State Building and she doesn’t come. If she had been chasing
him in the beginning and not he chasing her, she would have come to the
Empire State Building and not he.
- When she was young, she fell and broke her leg. Her crippled legs
have a history.
- Both come at the same time to the bar to order drinks. This is a
life response. Each has the other in their mind.
- He had originally proposed that if he had an affair with her
aboard ship, life would be like “pink champagne”. At the bar, both order “pink” champagne
separately. It is not only on emotions that they meet, but on a particular
point of correspondence.
- Again it is a life response when they are sitting back to back in
the restaurant, unaware of each other behind. Earlier, they separated at the bar when some ladies tried to
eavesdrop on their conversation. The unfinished energy of the previous
meeting brings them together again in the restaurant.
- When he takes her to his grandmother’s house in France, she feels
peace there. That is the sanction for their coming together.
- The grandmother is a faithful woman. To meet her and be liked by
her is further sanction for their coming together later.
- Terry says, “I think I could stay here forever.” This means she is
responding to her emotions for him, not the place.
- Both pray in the Grandmother’s chapel. His life is so full of
falsehood and shallowness. There is his negative behaviour and evil past
which rise to the surface and blast him. The consequence is he has to
devote his life to a crippled woman.
- His grandmother remarks, “ I am afraid Nickie will have to pay the
price someday…” She knows he will definitely pay a price.
- It is through the grandmother that Terry comes to him. She sees
the genuine affection between Nickie and his grandmother, the positive
side of the man. She has to overcome his negative side by her belief in
his positive potentialities.
- They return to the ship after spending 5 hours with his
grandmother. She has been very moved by the grandmother. Nickie meets
Terry on deck later and finds her in tears. She says, “Beauty always makes
me cry.” Beauty is of the mind and does not have the power of consummation
which is at the level of the physical. Her mind does not have the power to
accomplish in life. She is not able to meet him at the Empire State
building after six months.
- On their last day aboard ship, he says, “This is probably my last
chance.” He talks of marriage, not of love. Marriage is a social
arrangement for which he is not qualified and she is not either, having no
income. That is why they cannot meet as planned after six months.
- It is a shallow emotion, not romance, not passion. They don’t talk
of positive consummation, they talk of not missing it – “We’d be fools to
let happiness pass us by.” She
says, “Marriage is a very serious step for a girl like me.” She means she
is poor and he doesn’t have any money either.
- She comments “If things don’t work out…” After having said that, she later has an accident.
- When she is on the way to meet him at the Empire State Building,
she meets Ken at the dress shop. She tells him excitedly that she is going
to get married. Instead of congratulating her, he says that if she ever
needs anything, if she ever needs love, he will be there for her. He says this unconsciously, but it
comes true. (He later takes care of her after her accident.)
- She is rushing off to her marriage and Ken is losing her
permanently. His inner reaction contributes to her accident. She has also betrayed him after five
years of taking his money and preparing herself to be his wife. Her
betrayal is also another reason for her accident.
- After meeting Ken, she turns and runs in the wrong direction, away
from the Empire State Building. Her decision to marry is momentarily
reversed because of meeting Ken.
- She tells the taxi driver that she is getting married and that he
should congratulate her. In reply, the driver says something negative
about marriage -- “Marriage is something to rush to?” This is a sign of what is coming.
Within a minute, she has the accident.
- During the six months interval, his grandmother had died. Because
she died, they could not come together.
- In the last scene when he visits her in her apartment, he is
trying to be good to her, to be extremely generous by lying (that he did
not come to the Empire State Building). But being extremely formal with
each other creates an awkwardness and angularity. They are not frank with
each other. This formality expresses both the occasion and the American
- For this last visit, he comes to her only to hand over the
grandmother’s shawl. It is because
of the painting of her wearing the grandmother’s shawl that the truth
finally comes out about her accident. So they can finally come together ONLY
because of the grandmother.