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One particular moment that drives home the idea that Andrea's life is empty in the yearning for her old lover would be her fixation on the bowl itself. As the bowl becomes increasingly important to her, it becomes evident that Beattie is seeking to use the preoccupation with the bowl as a stand in for the feelings she has towards her loved:
She became more deliberate with the bowl, and more possessive. She put it in houses only when no one was there, and removed it when she left the house. Instead of just moving a pitcher or a dish, she would remove all the other objects from a table. She had to force herself to handle them carefully, because she didn't really care about them. She just wanted them out of sight.
This quote helps to clearly illuminate that Andrea sees the bowl as something more. Her emotional attachment to the bowl is a reflection of the choices she made in leaving her lover and choosing financial security with her husband. It is for this reason that she is more demonstrative and emotional with the bowl, something that she could not be with her lover. The emotion that she should have shown towards him is now being shown towards the bowl. At the same time, her attachment to the bowl is reflective of the emptiness in her own life. She no longer speaks to her husband about her strategies and her sales, in the belief that it will somehow take away from the bowl. This helps to bring out the emptiness she feels in her own life, and in some way, a psychological fixation on the bowl can help to substitute the emptiness she feels about the choices she made.
I think that another quotation from Beattie's text that shows how Andrea is empty, yearning for the life she once had, comes from the ending of the text. The last paragraph of the text reflects a world that seems perfect on the outside, but is rather empty within:
Time passed. Alone in the living room, at night, she often looked at the bowl sitting on the table, still and safe, unilluminated. In its way, it was perfect: the world cut in half, deep and smoothly empty. Near the rim, even in dim light, the eye moved toward one small flash of blue, a vanishing point on the horizon.
This line speaks to Andrea's emptiness quite pointedly. The fact that "time passed" reflects how Andrea views her decision. She is not content with it, exuding confidence about how affirming and restorative her choices were. Rather, she views her decision in almost an existential void, just as she views her present. Only the bowl contains meaning in it. At the same time, Andrea's love of the bowl is evident because it is the only thing that is perfect in her life. The emptiness of her world is offset by the perfectly designed interiors, realms carefully choreographed and arranged to prevent any real presence of human emotion. Being "perfect" is how Andrea appears. Yet, the only real element that is "perfect" in her life is the bowl and what it contains. The ending notion of the "vanishing point on the horizon" can be seen as connecting to her own hopes of happiness. They are vanishing, except for the bowl, a "perfect" reminder of what was, what might have been, and what can never be.
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