For Esmé with Love and Squalor
How we cite our quotes:
I then looked through all my pockets, including my raincoat, and finally found a couple of stale letters to reread, one from my wife, telling me how the service at Schrafft's Eighty-Eighth street had fallen off, and one from my mother-in-law, asking me to please send her some cashmere yarn first chance I got away from "camp." (9)
These letters are interestingly unsentimental and devoid of any trace of affection – you'd think that if your husband/son-in-law/brother were away in a distant land fighting a war, you might be a little more loving. However, all of the narrator's relationships at home seem to be strangely dull and lackluster.
"Are you very deeply in love with your wife? Or am I being too personal?"
I said that when she was, I'd speak up. (35-36)
Hmm. Note that the narrator doesn't actually answer the question. Is he very deeply in love with his banal-sounding wife? We're not sure.
"I'm training myself to be more compassionate. My aunt says I'm a terribly cold person […] Do you find me terribly cold?"
"I told her absolutely not – very much to the contrary, in fact. (40-42)
Esmé recognizes that love and compassion are important, and is concerned that she doesn't have enough.