The Inez Monologue

 

Major 20th Centuries Writers Class

Jerry Hartman

December, 2000

This is written in the voice of Inez Serrano, a character in "No Exit" a play by Jean-Paul Sartre. After introducing herself Inez will address a specific character in each of the following books: Perfume, Mao II, Red Azalea, God Dies by the Nile, The Stranger, Incest, Tropic of Cancer, Black Water and Lolita. She will then direct various degrees of literary comment to the authors, respectively: Patrick Suskind, Don Delillo, Anchee Min, Nawal El Saadawi, Albert Camus, Anais Nin, Henry Miller, Joyce Carol Oates and Vladimir Nabokov.

I am Inez Serrano. If you are very pretty, I wish I had some flowers to welcome you. If you are very pretty I will be your candid looking-glass. I have your taste, my dear, because I like you so much. But this is only if you are very pretty.

I am Inez Serrano. Im rotten to the core. Human feeling is beyond my range. I cant get on without making people suffer.

Grenouille, you use people solely for your personal gratification. You endear yourself to those you temporarily need, then, after your aims have been achieved you leave. They die. Grimal, dead the very day you left his tannery. Baldini, crushed in a collapsing building and washed away the night you left his perfumery. Grenouille, you take the very life from beautiful young girls to satisfy your desire. Whats more, it is not because of a testosterone-fueled lust for their nymph bodies. It is not a misogynists need to control their minds, their being. You objectify them yes. But you murder them only for their scent -- your exigency. Grenouille, you are unable to love another human being. Grenouille you love only yourself. You are so touched by yourself you proclaim, "I thank you, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, for being what you are!" (266). Grenouille I could adjoin with you; but Grenouille you are a miserable, puny, self-centered man and thus I dismiss you. Your reign is nothing more than self-aggrandizement and not worthy of my attention.

Bill Gray you seduced the literary world with your work then withdrew. Scott was your sycophant and you made love to his woman, much the same situation as I found myself with my cousin and his wife Florence. You deserted them without warning or word. I admire your modus operandi, Bill Gray. In the same way you did to those who depended on you, I hope to beguile then abandon your daughter.

Ice Lu you are possessed by the threatening spirit and coldness of the skull you sleep with, and this is good. No one knows if you even have feelings other than your single-minded ambition for power. Men in the company are afraid of you. But for all your way of action, your attacking and invading style, you cling to political mantra while Anchee and Yan lay together behind the mosquito netting. You were even an instrument of their liaison, suggesting they share blankets together since they were "cold." How naive you are. Ice Lu you are stupid. As you study every comma and period in your Little Red Book their bodies entangle, pretending to be man and woman. I want to be a part of the Red Guards. I, Inez Serrano, want to command and control the women at Red Fire Ant Farm. They will worship me and I will possess them.

Lu, come sit your slim figure next to me as you read. Let me look into your eyes of thirst. Let me watch closely as you bathe your feet. This need not be your only intimacy...

Mayor of Kafr El Teen you too, like Bill Gray, have your hanging lackeys. The Chief of the Village Guard, Sheikh Hamzawi and Haj Ismail all seek to curry your favor. Yet your pleasure is not in their need for your benefaction. Your pleasure is in the lustful indulgence of the flesh of the young women of the village. Circumstance will cause them to yield to you, but they do not supplicate to you. They do not respect you. You objectify them but it is only because of the petty power you hold that this happens. It is because of your petty power that you have anything. You are nothing but despicable. You ruin the lives of young women. You are eventually brought down by one you destroyed. You and I have much in common.

Meursault you fascinate me. You have no sentiment, none until your end that is. You could own, posses Marie, just tell her what she wants to hear, but you do not. Yet you do things to win the favor of others. (You are very much like Garcin, with whom I am stuck in hell. He could have Estelle, but it is my look of approval that he needs. And the approval of those he has left behind on earth, in the pressroom.) I do not understand this. Why, for example, did you write the letter for Raymond? And your killing the Arab, what of that? Was the first shot accidental? Was it to defend yourself? The other four shots that followed, did you fire them into the motionless body because to you it did not matter whether you shot one bullet or five, or none at all? To you did it not matter whether a man lived or died? Most of all Meursault your Maman. "You only have one mother," said Celeste (3,4). Yet to you that did not matter. You only understood at your end -- the need for a beginning at the end. Yet you, like I, would only relive what we had before: existence devoid of human emotion.

Anais, you are my contemporary. Anais, you are my sister. Anais, you are so weak and confused that even I, who has black coal for a soul, I feel sorry for you.

Anais, on Christmas night, 1932, you wrote of the serenity of knowing what is supremely and divinely right. The world is at last focused. This was never true for you however. You never had a true sense of yourself, much less of a world outside yourself. Or what could be in that world.

Anais, I have read your words and listened to others talk about you. You struggled to assert yourself as artist and a woman, yet defined yourself by the men in your life. How sad. Estelle is very much like you. Yet I do not have contempt for you as I do for her. For you try, unsuccessfully, but try none-the-less, to find your place in the world. Such talent, such beauty, oh that I, a lowly postal clerk, possessed these attributes of yours -- combined with my strong will-- imagine the hell I could create!

Henry Miller you slush around, you contribute nothing, you take from everyone. You are not lost like Anais however. She is truly an enigma, seeking to find herself. You are a slut. You rave about Paris for it varieties of sexual provender and the added spice of abnormalities that aggravate, what you (you beast) call, the natural homeliness of the female acting as a stimulant for the jaded appetites of the male (Miller 162). Someday I will encounter you along the Boulevard Beaumarchais, where you first met Germaine. It will take no effort you to entice you, you who brags of having erections even with an empty stomach. You will even be willing to pay me what few francs you may have mendicated. I will go with you and make trophy of your testicles.


Kelly how can you be so nave? So gullible? So utterly foolish?

Yes, you ARE going to die like this.

Come back to save you???It never NEVER NEVER entered his mind!

Do you hear me???

What is it with you Kelly? Are you looking for Daddy in thesethese MEN!

(PTTTTOOOGHHH !!!)

G----. G----. Yes making love had sometimes hurt you. Maybe not so unconsciously. Certainly not far beneath the conscious. Now you cannot even speak his name. Better that you had spat in his face and cursed him!

And now this self-absorbed omathon! The Senator. A goddamn United States Senator in a freaking TOYOTA no less!

Such conceit, such need for you. He needs you for arm-candy. He needs US christsakes, goddammit HE NEEDS US TO FEEL WHOLE.

Cant you see that????

On the beach you felt the urgency of his desire, now you see the accelerated, reckless stupidity of his lust. Yet you are too timid to speak-up. You are afraid to offend the fool. You must go with him. This is your only chance:

Your chance for black water to fill your lungs.

AND SHE DIED.


And finally we come to Lolita. What does Inez think about Lolita? Or Humbert Humbert? Or Mrs. Haze. I think you know what I think of each of them. The better question is which of the three will I choose to address here. Whom will Inez single out for chastisement?

Will it be Lolita, the young, not-so-innocent? Do you expect me to chide her for her foolish choices ?

Will it be the desperate Mrs. Haze who receives the rath of Inez? Inviting a strange man into her home to live, to share her bed and unknowingly also sharing her daughter?

Lolita, it seems, is the sister of Kelly. She is more manipulative, for certain. But she is a young girl non-the-less, and in need of a father-figure. That HH was the one who came into her life is tragic.

Mrs. Haze is the pathetic woman in need of a man that Inez abhors. Yet, in a way she is much like Anais. She defines herself by men. She is ultimately destroyed by her belief in a man.

Humbert you, more than any character I have discussed, you sicken me. Miller, for all his sloven ways, did not come close to you in terms of being repulsive. Even Grenouille, who murdered young girls, was not a repugnant as you. Your cavalier attitude, your lets move on to the next thing, your this is the way things are and the way things are supposed to be tone in the midst of a perversion worse than I visited on my cousin, or Garcin visited upon his wife this way of presenting yourself makes you even more despicable than you horrid acts.

You have the audacity at the end to provide advice to your daughter concerning her husband. You tell her, be true to your Dick (Nabokov 309). That is certainly the credo by which you lived your life.


Suskind, what a delicious, horrid tale you unfold. Your monster had such a tragic beginning. How masterful you are at reeling me, Inez Serrano, into the dark world of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. A world not dominated by scent, but the world of an "abominable personage" who lacked what I too am without -- the love of others. This is summed up so well at the end of Chapter Thirty-eight:

Indeed, human odor was not of importance to him whatever. He could imitate human odor quite well enough with surrogates. What he coveted was the odor of certain human beings: that is, those rare humans who inspire love. (Suskind 228)

Grenouille loved himself so much because no one else loved him.

You chronologically relate the life of Grenouille. As his life unfolds deeper and deeper the reader submerges into the horror of your story. You seduce the reader with well-researched drama that builds to a shocking climax.

Delillo, you are acclaimed as a brilliant voice commentating on life in America. Yet I hate your sentence fragments. You daze and confuse the reader. Your scenes obscure your plot. You are indirect. I, Inez, prefer direct.

Anchee, what is real and what is your imagination? Are you a kindred spirit with Al Gore, being everything and everywhere in your country? Was the consummate Communist Chinese experience truly your life? One thing that Inez will insist upon is that one is true to their acts, to their choices, to their life. You create quite a novel here Anchee. I demand you account for the facts.

Nawal, the sun menacingly beats upon such a dark world. Is it the translation, or your writing or your intent that brings forth such a laboring effort? I plod through your words and sentences, much like a buffalo on the way to the field each day. You are a feminist. The plot you use to send out your message is a powerful one. While a tale of a strong, powerful and winning woman might be what some would say is a better avenue, I agree with what you did. Show things as they are, the horror of reality. Build a burning inside the soul so that the flames burst forth to overcome oppression. Your words to me are dull, your story is accurate, your message must be heard.

Camus, The Stranger is such a short work. A short work with short sentences. A quick, easy read one might mistakenly think. Certainly one can read through and in a straightforward manner grasp the plot. But Camus you are cunning. Such simple prose, but prose that one must read and read again to absorb your meaning. Your writing might seem simple on the page, but like me, beneath the surface there is so much more.

Anais, I spoke directly to you earlier, but not about your writing style. It works for me. The dream like diary, the relating of events, but events submerged in the poetry of your mind. I am able to relate to you through your work, to seem like I am inside your head, watching this all transpire as I read your thoughts. This is different for me, for I generally prefer direct, but then you are very pretty. I have your taste my dear, I like you very much.

Oh Henry, you had guts enough to still be here and read this far? I would have expected you to be running back to Anais or wifey after my earlier comments. So out of character for you to intentionally come near a strong woman. This Tropic of Cancer, your classic, has been called a defining work of American literature? Well it did give insight into the stream of your soul. It is much more accessable than the work of Joyce (which, try as she did, Inez just could not get through). It does bring the reader into your world Henry. Certainly a very dysfunctional world, but the work allows you to be emerged in it. It is certainly not a place where I would want to stay. It is the world of a man. You capture the destituteness and debauchery of men so well.

Oates, I dislike your Kelly for what she is. You have portrayed her well. So many women, and not just young ones, fall prey to these wanton men. You message is one that must be absorbed by women. Your style and method of delivery is effective. You take the reader inside Kellys head, her thought process. You keep visiting the point of climax her death and bring Kelly and the reader back just before it happens. You make it such that even though the reader knows it will happen, it is never sure until it happens. You tease like an experienced lover. Your ending is not one of release however. You deliver a lesson and a warning. A lesson to needy women. A warning about lascivious, licentious men.

Nabokov, you, so much more that Miller, are a master. You made me see your characters. You brought me inside you characters. I felt the childish manipulations of Lolita, the scheming desperatness of her mother, the leering letchury of Humbert. You use of vocabulary by Humbert so that he seemingly places himself on a intellectual clay pedistle is brilliant I may be a pedophile, but Im smarter than you it is nearly a schoolyard chant that runs through the pages. Miller was more graphic, your work is more revealing there are fewer Henry Millers stumbling through the sewers (and they are less of a threat) than the legions of Humbert Humberts leering at the schoolyard.


Works

Camus, Albert. The Stranger. New York: Random House, 1988.

Delillo, Don. Mao II. New York: Penguin, 1991.

El Saadawi, Nawal. God Dies by the Nile. London: Zed Books Ltd., 1995.

Miller, Henry. Tropic of Cancer. New York: Grove Press, 1961.

Min, Anchee. Red Azalea. New York: Berkley Books, 1995.

Nabokov, Vladimir. Lolita. New York: Vintage Books, 1997.

Nin, Anais. Incest. San Diego: Harvest Book, 1992.

Oates, Joyce Carol. Black Water. New York: Plume, 1992.

Sartre, Jean-Paul. No Exit and Three Other Plays. New York: Vintage International, 1989.

Suskind, Patrick. Perfume. New York: Washington Square Press, 1986.