Study Guide

The Price of Salt, or Carol Body Temperature

By Patricia Highsmith

Body Temperature

Hot and Cold

There are more obvious body temperature metaphors in The Price of Salt than in your average Katy Perry song, but we have to mention them because there are so many. Therese talks about how hot or cold she is all the time. Hot usually means romantic or lustful, and cold usually means "ew, get away from me," like when Richard's hand is describes as "moist, which made it icy cold" (5.40). Moist and cold? No thank you.

Here are a few more notable examples.

  • "Abby? My best friend. […] Aren't you cold with this window open?" (7.56). As soon as Carol mentions Abby, a gust of cold air blows into the car. In case it wasn't clear, Therese is instantly jealous of this other woman.
  • Their hotel room becomes "so overheated" (16.100) after Therese and Carol talk about love. Looks like things are heating up for these two…
  • "She walked until she was cold, and the library was the closest place to go and get warm" (21.55). Therese is cold after Carol leaves her, but she warms up by going to the library and thinking quiet thoughts. Thank goodness for libraries.

The last one is actually the most significant because Therese is able to warm herself up. Teach someone to make fire, and they're warm for life. Light someone on fire and… Okay, we messed up that little proverb, but the point is that Therese is able to act with more confidence once she realizes she can be her own fire.