“Loving her and knowing to the frightened quick of your bones that you can now lose her, has made you fearfully aware for the first time of the impermanence of all things and the finality of life: that even love—the most precious feeling we can have for one another—can die or be destroyed. But you have no choice. You are committed totally, for love commits one totally to life and to death” (p 129).
It is imperative within this quotation to note the persistent references to death, and mortality; that in finding love we simultaneously find death. In this respect, love is essentially only “precious” and conspicuously longed for simply because we are mortal, because it can so easily be removed, because we can so easily be removed. If we were immortal beings, love would not be coveted. Our mortality, our impermanence, our ability to perish is what makes love so extraordinary.
It is therefore through this perception of love that Wendt comes to the conclusion that when one commits to love, there is a commitment to life and to death as well. In short, by committing to love we commit ourselves to the greatest virtue of being and in affect give ourselves life. Yet, in committing to love we are in fact recognizing its rarity, its value, and its remarkable presence. In turn we have to recognize death, and commit to death in order for the greatness of love to not be tainted. Therefore, there truly is no choice in the matter; when one chooses love one chooses life and death.
It is interesting then to reflect upon the portion of the passage that states, “even love…can die or be destroyed.” This statement perhaps gives a third option to committing to love: destruction. Thus in committing to love we commit to life, death and destruction. This particular analysis is telling of Wendt’s portrayal of the relationship between the boy and the girl, as well as his conceptions of racism. In loving each other they create a home, a place of belonging, and essentially give aesthetic life to one another, and literal life to the baby they conceive. Yet their love is also connected to death because they both perpetually fear losing one another, which acknowledges the transient existence of life, and more importantly, they also literally commit to death through the girl’s abortion; a feeble attempt to reconcile their decision to marry and keep their love alive.
What is there to make of the destruction then? How does love destroy? Wendt makes the destruction of love clear through the deeply penetrating motif of racism when he states, “’Now I’m beginning to understand what it’s like,’ she said” (p 24). The unexplained “it’s” is initially confusing for the reader is unclear if Wendt is discussing racism or love. Yet he purposefully injects “it’s” in order to assimilate their existences into one another. Love is a pivot to racism, and visa versa, each becomes part of the others process. Therefore love not only destroys race as depicted by the incredible and insatiable love of the boy and girl, but race also destroys love as seen through the many relationships that are torn apart, as well as the baby created in lovemaking that is taken away. It, love and racism, is a delicate balance—a tight rope if you will—and looking at what Wendt uses as supports; life, death, and destruction; it becomes easy to understand how the boy imagines Maui to be happy within his death (217). For in death he found life and love.