Study Guide

How I Live Now Lust

By Meg Rosoff

Lust

I lay there and wondered if that's the feeling you're supposed to have when your cousin touches a totally innocent part of your anatomy that's even fully clothed. (1.6.27)

Um, let's see Daisy. If that's a question you have to ask yourself, then we're pretty sure it's not the feeling that most people have in that situation. This moment, this realization, this question—all of it foreshadows everything that's about to go down.

His leg resting against mine and a feeling flying between us in a crazy jagged way like a bird caught in a room. The feeling which had been starting up for a while now was so strong it made me dizzy and so far we'd just been pretending it was what cousinly love felt like and all that garbage you tell yourself when you want to pretend something's not really happening. (1.9.28)

Obviously pretending that nothing's happening is not working out so well if Daisy's so consumed by lust that she feels dizzy. Daisy's metaphor of a bird caught indoors illustrates just how all-consuming their feelings are.

My brain and my body and every single inch of me that was alive flooded with the feeling that I was starving, starving, starving for Edmond. (1.9.30)

It's not like starving's a new feeling for Daisy, but this is a different sort of bird—and this time, she actually wants her starvation to be satiated. Big time. This is also the first point where Daisy starts to describe herself as feeling alive and vibrant rather than weak and dispirited.

The war didn't have much to do with it except that it provided the perfect limbo in which two people who were too young and too related could start kissing without anything or anyone making us stop. (1.10.2)

Daisy brings up an interesting point here: how much the war plays into their attraction and what goes down between them. For her, it just provides a sort of perfect storm. Aunt Penn's gone, no adults are bothering them, they're all alone in the countryside…

Falling into a sexual and emotional thrall with an underage blood relative hadn't exactly been on my list of Things to Do […] but […] Things Happen and once they start happening you pretty much just have to hold on for dear life. (1.10.5)

There's an interesting lack of agency depicted here. Rather than Daisy and Edmond making a choice, Daisy describes what happens as though it is something entirely out of their control, akin to a roller coaster they wound up on by accident and now can't get off of until the ride's over.

Things were so intense I was sure that other people could hear the hum coming off us. (1.10.8)

We've all had that feeling that something we can't stop thinking about must be written all over our faces and bodies. In Daisy and Edmond's case, it's an actual hum.

We could try and try and try to get enough of each other but it was like some witch's curse and the more we tried to stop being hungry the more starving we got. (1.11.11)

Again with the lack of agency. Daisy and Edmond aren't choosing this; they're cursed. The parallel to hunger also sort of stops working here because the more they try to satiate the urges they feel, the more they want each other. Not surprising, of course, because when did acting on such feelings ever make them go away?

It was the first time in as long as I could remember that hunger wasn't a punishment or a crime or a weapon or a mode of self-destruction.

It was a way of being in love. (1.11.12-13)

Now, correct us if we're wrong here, but doesn't everything that Daisy's been describing sound a lot more like lust than love? It's interesting that she chooses to describe it as love instead, and makes us wonder if she's ascribing emotions to their relationship that she may not even feel yet.

Sometimes I felt like I was being consumed from within like a person with one of those freak diseases where you digest your own stomach. (1.11.14)

Um, gross. So let's get this straight: Now we're off the roller coaster and done with the witch's curse, but what's happening is a disease. Daisy's inability to take ownership is truly astounding. Also we're still a little puzzled about the analogy between lust and consuming your own stomach.

Saved from the ravages of war by stubbornness and ignorance and an insatiable hunger for love. (2.6.8)

At first glance, it might seem illogical that Daisy's claiming that her love (ahem, lust) is what gets her through the war, given that she pretty much doesn't see Edmond once the Occupation begins. However, loving or lusting after Edmond gives her something to live for beyond the immediate future for probably the first time in her life. Instead of quietly doing what she's told, it prompts Daisy to take action, to find her way back across the countryside, and to survive even when the going gets incredibly tough.

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