"The Lover" is the novel that can be considered a rebellion against the world of stereotyped relationships and ordinary understanding of love. It is the story that questions love standards. It is a love story without any real continuation but with millions of them in the head of each of the lovers. At the same time it is also a story of opposing social abutments and failure to fight them.
What is a "standard lover" like? "He" is an embodiment of strength and courageousness to do anything in the name of his love. He adores his beloved one and "she" is fragile and feminine. They write letters and poems to each other; looking forward the next time they are going to see each other. Can this description be considered a perfect and exact description of a love relationship?
At least it is the most dominant trend, which is very likely to be observed anywhere. This is just the way things usually are and ordinary nothing should change it. "The Lover" is one of the exceptions from the general regularity. It is a life-story of a woman, a story that has always lived in her heart, the story of her life, which she could not change for better. In the very beginning of the book she says: "Very early in my life it was much too late" (Duras 4). This intensifies the meaning of the forbidden relationship that she had in the past when she was just a fifteen-year-old girl attending a boarding school. This fifteen-year-old French girl is abused by her "beggar"-family and she mostly lives in her imaginary world. But once she meets the son of a Chinese millionaire on a ferry and starts a relationship with him. She herself does not consider this affair to have anything to do with love. She constantly denies she has any feeling except sexual desire for this young man and does not acknowledge it even at the moment of losing him. She recognizes it too late and says: "The story of my life does not exist" (Duras 6). She is as cold as an iceberg, not letting herself show even a minimal manifestation of love. She is just letting him to love her without giving any tenderness and understanding in response.
The heroine acts very man-like and is rather masculine in her attitude towards the man she has relationship with. She wants to be treated like " one of those women" and seems not to care about truly loving each other and even opening hearts like ordinary lovers do. "The lover" in his turn seeks for her love and strives for gentleness and affection, he believes in love but all he sees is the wall of a pompous "indifference." He even cries; it is a cry for her feelings, for her warmth but nevertheless his blast is all in vain. He feels pain but cannot express it because she does not listen to him. The heroine tells the reader:
"He didn't speak of the pain, never said a word about it. Sometimes his face would quiver; he'd close his eyes and clench his teeth. But he never said anything about the images he saw behind his closed eyes. It was as if he loved the pain, loved it as he'd loved me, intensely, unto death perhaps, and as if he preferred it now to me"(Duras 108). In these lines, the woman tries to hold her feelings and does not confess she is in love which makes an automatic parallel with a standard conduct of a man.
The heroine has a very complicated psychological portrait. Her essence consists of lots of problems she does not even suspect of. She is young, ambitious; she is simply afraid to love, and tries to prove something to the world around her. This affair is doomed from the very beginning by social and racial prejudices of the prewar 1930's. She tries to hide her feeling behind a sexual relationship because this way it is the easiest one of accepting impossibility of being together. She uses the escape from the reality as a protection, as a psychological defense mechanism.
The novel is very dramatic and reveals the importance to speak out feelings, it challenges existing relationship…