Wyatt, of all the pretenders, changes to become a truth seeker. Most of the other characters loiter at the right bars, attend fashionable parties, and go sightseeing at the correct places. They gossip, drink, develop their images, and, whenever they can, because they have nothing better to do, antagonize and distract the moral characters. Hannah tells Anselm to “shut up,” “go home,” and “take a nap” when he and Stanley discuss religion. Don Bildow asks Stanley for methyltestosterone (“I’m with this girl, see”) and later “the Italian word for contraceptive” when Stanley frantically pursues Esme.
Three other characters besides Wyatt seek the truth in the novel: Esme, the poet; Stanley, the composer; and Valentine, the art critic. They warrant the reader’s attention because they discover truth.
Gaddis has created a fascinating character in the beautiful Esme. She has the self-discipline to make herself look beyond details to find the eternal principles. Her use of the third-person singular when talking about herself illustrates this asceticism. The use of the third person allows her to think of herself as she would another person, with the distance necessary to ignore petty needs and selfish desires. These needs only get in the way of her broad study, for they are details such as the ones Wyatt has painted for so long.
Using the third person, Esme says beautiful things. When Stanley gets her pregnant, she asks...
(The entire section is 523 words.)