Book 1, Chapter 19
Theo runs into Julian at a covered market as she is buying fruit. He is disturbed by his sudden impulse to give her flowers and carry her bags for her. Though he knows it is unwise, he approaches her and greets her as innocuously as possible before quietly saying he has something important to tell her. While they pretend to look at goods in the market, Theo reveals that the SSP visited him and urges Julian, once again, to leave the group. Julian says that Theo should not contact her again, but before she leaves, Theo promises to come to her aid if she ever requests it. At home, Theo reflects that, despite being fifty, he has never known romantic love before. Believing that he is too old to risk the turbulence of romance, Theo decides to spend the summer traveling to distract himself from recent events. Though it is usually impossible for anyone under sixty-five to travel at will, Theo is able to get a permit on account of his relationship with the Warden. He decides to revisit the great cities and monuments of Europe before they fall to ruin and the roads leading to them are no longer maintained. Theo declares that he will tear this page from his diary and that his impulsive offer to Julian was a mistake. If she does take him up on the offer, he says she will find his house empty.
In this chapter, we see Theo finally acknowledge his growing feelings for Julian. Though he admits that his impulse to carry her bag and buy her flowers is a childish, romantic notion, he cannot seem to help himself any longer. This is most apparent in his promise that he will help Julian if she ever requests his aid. Up until this point, Theo has been an extremely reluctant participant in the activities of the Five Fishes. His uncharacteristic willingness to allow someone to depend on him despite the potential for danger and inconvenience demonstrates just how deep his feelings for Julian run. Despite Theo’s unusually outgoing behavior, however, Julian dismisses him and rushes away. Later, as he writes the entry in his diary, Theo’s old hang-ups war with his new feelings. He rationalizes that he is too old to fall in love; with humanity at its end, fleeting desire is pointless to indulge. Theo’s inexperience with romantic love explains why he naively believes that he can simply decide not to be in love if it is too inconvenient. Though Theo plans to use a vacation to forget about Julian and the Five Fishes, his inability to follow through on his promise to rip this page from the diary suggests that he will find those ties difficult to sever.