An Eye for Dark Places Critical Essays

Norma Marder

An Eye for Dark Places

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In this apocalyptic feminist novel, Norma Marder transports her readers to society as it exists at some time beyond the middle of the twenty-first century. Sephony Berg-Benson is married to Marek, an unimaginative engineer whom she does not love. Years earlier, her parents scorned Aaron, her true love. Sephony, the dutiful daughter, dropped him and married Marek, with whom she produced four children, now grown.

Sephony is faced with the empty future that confronts many mothers when their children become independent and go their own ways. She struggles to preserve her identity by beginning graduate work in London, focusing on ancient history.

The society in which Sephony lives is governed by a faceless totalitarian oligarchy, The Triangle. The infrastructure is crumbling, individual rights disappearing. Late one afternoon, as Sephony is preparing dinner for some tedious guests, an otherworldly, androgynous figure, Claro, materializes in her kitchen. He opens a passage in the floor and whisks Sephony from her world into his— Domino—where people can fly and where polygamy is the rule and unconditional love prevails.

This journey to Domino helps Sephony reassess her objectives. She takes a major step toward liberation by terminating her marriage to Marek and finding a job as a medical seer in a hospital for Dulls, the members of this controlled society who perform menial tasks.

Marder’s brave new world is superficially different from ours. Still, in many respects, nothing has changed. Women—despite the feminist movement of the late 1900’s—are still subservient to men; husbands remain male chauvinists. Sephony may finally marry Aaron, her first love, but even that is doubtful: trapped in a loveless marriage, Aaron has children he is reluctant to leave.

Sources for Further Study

Booklist. LXXXIX, July, 1993, p.1950.

Boston Globe. August 15, 1993, p.15.

Kirkus Reviews. LXI, April 15, 1993, p.480.

Library Journal. CXVIII, May 15, 1993, p.97

Locus. XXXI, September, 1993, p.72.

Publishers Weekly. CCXL, May 24, 1993, p.68.