What is the relationship between innocence, sexuality, and knowledge in Giovanni's Room?  (Do any of the characters in the text “know” each other (and if so, how do they gain that knowledge,...

  • What is the relationship between innocence, sexuality, and knowledge in Giovanni's Room?  (Do any of the characters in the text “know” each other (and if so, how do they gain that knowledge, and at what cost))?  

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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David does not wish to be fully "known" by Giovanni, yet he also cannot hide from Giovanni's insight and understanding. David prefers the more-or-less classic position of the uncertain lover, attempting to enjoy the relationship in a protective and fantasy-accented bubble. For him, the relationship is somewhat undefined but probably temporary. 

David ignores the possible consequences of his actions and continually reminds himself of his freedom, at any point, to abandon this new situation.

David's sexual interest in Giovanni is, perhaps, the only truly honest thing about his feelings for the Italian man.

“With everything in me screaming No! yet the sum of me sighed Yes.”

This honesty of feeling does not remove the internal and external complications of a relationship with Giovanni. Aware that he is holding back and unable to fully invest in a belief in the seriousness of the relationship, David's sexual interest and sexuality are honest but not innocent. 

For his part, Giovanni understands David's hesitance. He has his own emotional pressures to deal with and understands those he sees in David.

Just as Giovanni satisfies David’s repressed desires, so does he find in David meaning and hope...

However, Giovanni does strive for an innocence - a chosen innocence - and attempts to bring David with him into the belief that with enough honest feeling they can attain an innocence that they did not begin with. Giovanni understands that a willful innocence is essentially the same as a willful ignorance, but after a hard life he is capable of choosing one even if it is the same as the other. 

While David and Giovanni recognize these duplicities in one another, they strive to block out the world for a time. When Hella arrives, symbolizing the world, as it were, there is no more chance to pretend. The choice to ignore the reality of the situation is undone. 

We migth argue that the sexual relationship between Giovanni and David is possible only while they maintain an ignorance of the consequences. For David these consequences relate to Hella and his engagement to her. For Giovanni the consequences are inevitable heartbreak and a return to hardship. 

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