Is the bad girl a sadist, a sociopath, or a narcissist who cannot express love or empathy?

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Lily does indeed appear to be sadistic at times, since the novel is told from Ricardo's point of view. Lily exploits Ricardo's passion for her for years, returning to him time and again only to leave for another more famous or wealthy man.

However, tempting as it is to label...

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Lily does indeed appear to be sadistic at times, since the novel is told from Ricardo's point of view. Lily exploits Ricardo's passion for her for years, returning to him time and again only to leave for another more famous or wealthy man.

However, tempting as it is to label Lily as a "sociopath" or "narcissist," the novel's portrayal of Lily and Ricardo's relationship is somewhat more nuanced. Lily is an ambitious, independent woman; while Ricardo might fantasize about formalizing his relationship with Lily through marriage, it's clear that marriage between them is not possible or even desirable. It's also true that Ricardo no doubt derives some masochistic pleasure from being "of use" to Lily.

In this sense, Lily perhaps has the last word about their relationship in the first chapter of the novel, when she asks Ricardo, who wants her to "go steady" with him, why she should publicly declare that when they are together all the time anyway. In the same sense, it is possible that Ricardo and Lily, however much pain one causes the other, have figured out a way to give each other what they need.

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