Can you discuss the setting of T.C. Boyle's "The Love of My Life"?

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janetlong | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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The distinctively northeastern setting for The Love of My Life is bound by home, college, prison, and the motel in which Jeremy and China's baby is born and killed. Car rides and corridors transition the reader from one location to another. The seasons change, but rain and snow are the constant backdrop.

The central action of the story involves an unwanted pregnancy, conceived during a camping trip, but Boyle doesn't begin the story with the camping trip nor with the characters' first lovemaking. Instead, he describes an uneventful evening in which the lovers eat ice cream in front of the television while an impending storm ices the sidewalk and drums on the house. It is his house, though as Boyle describes it, it might as well have been hers. Home is safe and cozy, he builds a fire, and they wear each other "like a pair of socks."

In the fall, he attends Brown, she Binghampton. They are separated by more than miles: Jeremy wants her to get an abortion, and she wants something he cannot understand. China's refusal "colored everything" about campus life for Jeremy. Their lovemaking shifts from parental beds and sleeping bags, the lawn and the woods, to motel rooms where there are soaps and shampoos to steal but no pleasure in the queen-size bed.

China gives birth in a motel room. It is winter. A year has passed since the evening they had spent together at the beginning of the story. The rain has turned to ice. The bed is no more than a birthing table for the purpose of "getting rid of it."

The police station is brightly lit, and the truth is illuminated despite Jeremy's determination to "deny it all." The hospital is antiseptic and silent--as China will be when she has convinced the court that she was ignorant of the crime. Prison reminds both China and Jeremy of college--small rooms, noisy corridors, institutional food.

Home again, Jeremy sits in the den where the story began, watching basketball. When his lawyer calls, his mother takes over the conversation. China sits in her bedroom surrounded by tokens of the childhood she has outgrown. For the first time in the story, the rain has stopped. Outside it is green. But neither Jeremy nor China have any clear notion of a future or any inclination to accept responsibility for the murder of their baby.

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