So Love Returns Critical Essays

Robert Nathan


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Nathan uses the myth of the demon to emphasize one of his favorite themes, the power of love to transcend time and space. In this case, Kathleen is sent to provide comfort and love to Lenny and his children, to help fill the emptiness caused by the loss of Trina, the young wife and mother. Descriptions of Kathleen show that she is not a mortal but a supernatural being, perhaps a sea-witch or a reincarnation of one who lived in another time and place. She rises suddenly out of the sea, carrying a spear and wearing a green bathing suit that looks like fish scales. At other times, she wears strange, old-fashioned clothes. Her hair is like a “witch-cloud” around her shoulders, and at times it looks like seaweed.

Kathleen seems to have lived centuries before. She sings songs that Lenny has never heard, such as the songs of sirens or old sea chanteys. She says she does not know when she was born, only that it was long ago. Her necklace resembles one that belonged to an Irish woman who drowned at sea in 1687. Her gifts to Lenny of a Spanish coin, a gold signet ring, and a piece of amber all seem to come from another time and place.

There are hints that Kathleen is a mystical reincarnation of Trina. When he first meets her, Lenny thinks that her voice sounds like Trina’s, and she uses some of the same gestures. When she discusses love and death with Lenny, Dick, Alice, and Uncle Harry Cole, Kathleen says that “love has been known to follow...

(The entire section is 468 words.)