In his novelCall Me By Your Name, André Aciman explores the different dimensions to love through Elio’s many relationships. Through the compassion between him and his father, the lust he feels for Marzia, and the passionate love he feels for Oliver, Elio’s experiences show readers that love can...
In his novel Call Me By Your Name, André Aciman explores the different dimensions to love through Elio’s many relationships. Through the compassion between him and his father, the lust he feels for Marzia, and the passionate love he feels for Oliver, Elio’s experiences show readers that love can take lots of different forms.
Another significant aspect of love that Aciman examines is that even if love is brief, that does not mean it is insignificant. Throughout the book, Elio finds it difficult to process the nature of his passionate relationship with Oliver. In particular, he struggles with what it means that he is attracted to a man but still attracted to women, and for a while, he pushes Oliver away because of this. When he and Oliver finally do embrace one another, their time is limited and their relationship begins to consume Elio.
They enjoy their time together while they have it, but the fact that Oliver must leave is always on the back of their minds. Recall the scene in the bookstore in Rome when Elio reflects on their limited time together and what the future will be like when they part. He says:
I had always found a way to avoid counting the days … We had come to Rome in the same spirit of avoidance: Rome was a final bash before school and travel took us away, just a way of putting things off and extending the party long past closing time. Perhaps, without thinking, we had taken more than a brief vacation; we were eloping together with return-trip tickets to separate destinations.
This quote shows how even when he is still with Oliver he is anticipating how sad he will be when they must part. In this scene, he also notes feeling so far from Marzia that it is like she was not real. It is as if his love for Oliver took him to another world, one that he must abruptly leave. When he returns home without Oliver he hurts for a long time. It is ultimately his father who helps him put the relationship in perspective. He says:
We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by he age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything—what a waste!
Here, Elio’s father touches on many complex aspects of love. He acknowledges that the end of a loving relationship can be painful, but argues that people shouldn't try to forget love so as not to feel the pain of losing it. He wants his son to nurse his pain and really feel it so that he can appreciate how special what he had with Oliver was.