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Themes

(Novels for Students)

The Development of Love

Billy's love for Eva develops out of his romanticized vision of the world. Billy has the soul of a poet, often reciting poems by Yeats and jot ting down notes to his friends about extraordinary things he has seen or qualities in them that he appreciates. Dennis notes that Billy had "a tremendous willingness to find whomever he was talking to bright and witty and better than most." This eagerness to see the beauty around him prompts him to fall in love with Eva on a beach in Long Island, which had become a magical place for him. He fell in love with her "before she had even come clearly into his view" and then he promptly fell in love with a vision of his future, which, he was certain would be Edenic.

Maeve falls in love with Billy for quite a different reason. She has no romantic visions of him and their life together, knowing what it is like to live with an alcoholic. Dan Lynch concludes that Maeve wanted Billy because he fit the pattern of her life. She had become comfortable in her role as caregiver and supporter in her relationship with her father and recognized that she could fulfill the same role with Billy. Put together, these two patterns of falling in love suggest that the initial attraction can be generated by what a person seeks idealistically or, by contrast, by a person's attraction to the known and familiar, even when those are not necessarily positive.

Unrequited Love

Both Billy and Maeve suffer the painful...

(The entire section is 526 words.)