Our protagonist says: There is a bird without legs, born in flight, that lands only when it dies. It seems, Love is the awareness of being in love, or having fallen in love, or not being in control of oneself anymore. But love is also thereafter the awareness that life without love is not worth living. Man is either borne by fickle love as by the winds; or always moving toward what is lovable.
In the end, he seems to decide that this cannot be. The bird was always already dead – there is no such a being. The inability to acquire love, or to keep acquired love, is proof that whatever the purpose or the image of love, it does not exist. Love is a home for the homeless. Our protagonist is only a lover because he is homeless: Raised by a whore, in search of his aristocratic mother.
The first woman seduced seems to concede that if the man can persuade her to spend a minute with him, he has already proved she will love him. She may be both repulsed & attracted by his playboy ways. Soon enough, though, she wants to get married; he is not the kind, so she leaves. Then she wants her things back, if she cannot have him back; she wants to go back home to Macao.
The second woman seduced is given a pearl earring & she chases the other one into bed. Pearls are beautiful, but also pricey. She has a notion of her own worth – or why would people try to buy her? – so she dismisses the notion. But having said she’ll ne’er consent, she consents… She says nothing of marriage, but is just as possessive, & more jealous.
Two men offer opinions about how to live life. The playboy’s crony worships him, knowing that imitation is mockery in his case. He can never be brilliant. He becomes content to be ruled by his superior. He agrees with the woman that good things have to be earned – that the beautiful deserve the good.
The other man is a policeman – he has to care for his mother – & longs to be a sailor. Man will be free. He learned he was poor after joining the police; he could not afford new uniforms every year. He may be good at his job; looking good is something else. He knows women will love beautiful men. He councils moderation to the broken-hearted woman who cannot forget her lover; who puts failure down to bad luck can endure… He suspects artifice is hollow; that beautiful speeches have no more substance than beautiful looks. He berates the playboy for breaking laws, especially the law about passports. He knows that beauty is fragile.
A story of doomed love