Lucien’s thoughts, actions, and language indicate that he finds it difficult, if not impossible, to make and to commit himself to choices that are clearly in his best interests. This Hamlet-like indecision seems to stem from his childhood. He was attracted by what he saw as the romance of his father’s life and is often driven, like his father, by sexual desires he refuses to control. Lucien (whose name suggests the devil that often seems to control him) is saved from self-destruction, ultimately, by his fine ironic sense and by his willingness to find a center to his life in the form of his son.
A lover of well-told tales, he often sees his life unrealistically, in terms of a story. In college, he is torn between two girls sketched in outlines suited to tales of the Old West; they have old-fashioned names and seem to represent vice and virtue. Even though the values and codes represented by the myths of the Old West appeal to him, he is not a storybook hero. As he rushes off to “save” Emily, he abandons his own child.
When he feels that he can go no lower, he finds that he can turn to his advantage resources that he has used successfully before: his organizational skills, his business acumen, and his “willingness to please.” He is a kind of fallen angel who starts to rise again as he begins to create a new life, this time one that he invests with meaning.
Suzanne is a stabilizing influence; she remains a wonderful wife and mother throughout. Suzanne rejected all other suitors to marry Lucien. Stung by his abandonment, she forces him to fight for her, as he did not before, until she...
(The entire section is 667 words.)