Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 276

Themes of Molloy include emotional labor, the unstable nature of things, and how time is fluid and irrational.

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Molloy does emotional labor at the behest of another. He has to write down his experiences, though he's not sure for what purpose or who the person is that is forcing him to relive his journey. As he recalls the past, he remembers other times that he was forced to labor—both emotionally and physically—for others. For example, a woman held him captive after he killed her dog and insisted that he dig a grave for it. He stays with her after even though he is unhappy.

The unstable nature of things is shown in the way Molloy slowly falls apart physically and mentally. It's also shown in his inability to remember basic details about his own life. He can't get to his mother's house. He can't remember the lovers he's had or understand exactly who the woman that's keeping him in her house is. His mind seems to fluctuate at random times and events. Nothing is stable in his world and everything seems to happen at random.

At the beginning of the story, Molloy is at the end of his life. Time in Molloy is fluid and not straightforward. It's irrational. He wanders and doesn't realize where he is or how much time has passed. Though time should be one of the easiest things for him to mark, it seems to pass at random throughout the story. Time is also his enemy; as it passes, he becomes more paranoid and irrational. He believes that Louise is drugging him, for example, the longer he stays with her.

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