How can we explicate this paragraph from "In the Region of Ice"?“You could get money. Help me. Give me your hand or something, touch me, help me—please….” He reached for her hand and...
How can we explicate this paragraph from "In the Region of Ice"?
“You could get money. Help me. Give me your hand or something, touch me, help me—please….” He reached for her hand and she drew back. He stared at her and his face seemed about to crumble, like a child’s. “I want something from you, but I don’t know what—I want something!” he cried. “Something real! I want you to look at me like I was a human being, is that too much to ask? I have a brain, I’m alive, I’m suffering—what does that mean? Does that mean nothing? I want something real and not this phony Christian love garbage—it’s all in the books, it isn’t personal—I want something real…."
This excerpt represents a significant moment in the short story. It is the last point where Allen and Sister Irene will have any interaction. It is also the last point where Allen's intense emotional displays will be heard by Sister Irene. There is a pleading of emotional need that is something that ends up solidifying Sister Irene's decision to withdraw into her emotionally cloistered and barricaded world. It also represents much about Allen. His emotional nudity is something that is disarming, especially in light of Sister Irene's emotional withdrawal. Allen is able to accept his own condition in life as one of emotional pain and suffering. This is an admission that is too much for Sister Irene. Allen's emotional machine gun is also pointed at Sister Irene's institutions of the church and academia, realms to which her retreat is calculated to avoid emotional contact. His attacks on these realms is designed to bring out the emotional hypocrisy in which Sister Irene lives.