Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 356
As “The Rememberer” opens, the female narrator informs readers that her lover is “experiencing reverse evolution.” A sentence later it becomes clear that she does not mean this in a figurative sense; her lover, Ben, turned first into an ape, and now, a month later, he is a sea turtle.
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After this startling introduction, Annie, the narrator, explains that she has determined Ben is “shedding a million years a day.” His office has called asking where he is, and Annie told them he was sick. She keeps Ben, the sea turtle, in a baking pan full of water; each day when she returns home, he has regressed into a more primitive form.
Annie describes the day he first began his backwards journey; Ben had been lamenting, in his sad way, that people think too much. “Our brains are getting bigger and bigger, and the world dries up and dies when there’s too much thought and not enough heart.” Annie and Ben made love, and to reassure him, Annie whispered in his ear, “See, we’re not thinking.” Afterwards, they went outside to the patio. Ben said he wanted to sleep outside, so Annie left him there and went to bed by herself. When she woke up the next morning, she looked outside and Ben the man was gone; in his place, a large ape lay on the patio.
At first Annie handled the situation calmly, thinking Ben would eventually return to normal. Now, however, she has realized this may not happen.
Now Annie returns home from work and Ben, in his baking pan, has become a small salamander. Seeing this, she realizes, “This is the limit of my limits . . . I cannot bear to look down into the water and not be able to find him at all.” So she takes the pan, with Ben inside, to the beach, where she sets it afloat on the water and waves goodbye.
Now she waits, wondering if Ben will ever return as a man. She makes sure all her memories of him are still vivid, “because if he’s not here, then it is my job to remember.”