Love conquers all. That’s what we hear over and over again growing up. Everyone longs for that one amazing person to waltz into our lives and steal our hearts for the rest of eternity, but is it possible that love will be strong enough to face any problem that gets in our way? T. Coraghessan Boyle once said “As strong as love might be, there is always something stronger that could come along and shatter it” (After). T. Coraghessan Boyle was born in 1948 as Thomas John Boyle in Peekskill, New York. When Boyle went to college he never dreamed that one day he would have a major in Literature.
He originally went to major in music as an aspiring saxophone player at SUNY Potsdam (“Auteur”). “That did not work out because I did not have near the talent of my colleagues” he said “I became a singer in a rock band” (“Auteur”). After he lost interest in music he moved on to history. From history, he changed his major to English and history. When Boyle finally found were he belonged he channeled his creativity into writing fiction, where he is now know as a literary legend, or as Boyle likes to say a rock star of literature. Mark Twain once said “Boyle‘s writing is deliciously infectious” (“Auteur”).
Twain also includes that “Boyle’s masterful use of wit and dark satire pepper the pages with a focus on social exploration in contemporary times” (“Auteur”). With that kind of response from the great Mark Twain I can understand how Boyle has twenty-three novels and sixty-four short stories. In the short story “The Love of My Life” Boyle describes an extremely powerful love between two young teenagers named China and Jeremy. These two were inseparable, completely taken by love since the end of their junior year when they started dating, and they were not afraid to show it. They kissed whenever they met, no matter where or when, even if one of them had just stepped out of the room, because that was love, that was the way love was,” and they believed that nothing could end this incredible feeling (Boyle 382). Until the end of August, when China found out she was pregnant, that was when their problems began. China did not tell anyone about the baby except Jeremy. They went to two different colleges and that they would deal with the baby when it was time for China to give birth. When China’s water broke she called Jeremy and they went to a motel.
Jeremy delivered the baby girl and China told him to “get rid of it” so he threw the baby in the dumpster outside (Boyle 387). They left the motel and went back to the college as if nothing ever happened. The police came the next morning and arrested both China and Jeremy. China and her parents decided to place the blame on Jeremy by allowing everyone to think that China had believed she had miscarried, and Jeremy acted alone on dumping the breathing child into the dumpster. This enormous problem eventually led to the downfall of China and Jeremy’s relationship.
Boyle gets his ideas for his stories in many different ways, some can be from him just walking down the street and an idea pops into his head, others ideas come when he is watching television or reading a book. Boyle got the idea to write “The Love of My Life” from a case he read in the newspaper (After). The case was about a murder investigation involving Amy S. Grossberg and Brian C. Peterson for the murder of their new born baby boy. Grossberg delivered the baby at a Comfort Inn in Newark, Delaware, in November 1996 (“Amy”). Grossberg was assisted by her boyfriend Brian Peterson. Peterson threw the baby in the dumpster.
In March1998, Peterson pled guilty to man slaughter and served a two-year sentence. On April 22, 1998, Grossberg agreed to plea bargain, and was sentenced to two-and -half years in prison on July 9, 1998. Later, Peterson got married and now lives in Florida. Grossberg has now started a high end greeting card business with her parents (“Amy”). The only differences between the Peterson and Grossberg case and “The Love of My Life” is Boyle changed Peterson and Grossberg’s names and the sex of the baby, other than that the two stories are very similar. Love is a theme that is expressed frequently in this story, making some wonder, what is love?
China and Jeremy believe love should be expressed physically, rather than physically and emotionally. China says love should be “the way it was in the movies, where the stars ambushed each other on beds the size of small planets and did it again and again until they lay nestled in a heap of pillows and blankets” (Boyle 381). Jeremy says explains that “there was no feeling like this, no triumph, no high – it was like being unconquerable, like floating,” (Boyle 381) and for their spring break trip, Jeremy “didn’t even bring his fishing rod, and that was love” (Boyle 383). Their idea of love is questioned when China is pregnant.
Jeremy begins to think of China as “pig-headed, stubborn, and irrational” (Boyle 385). Yet he does what she asks, like when she tells him to “get rid of it”, it meaning the baby, he does not ask questions he simply wraps the baby in plastic and leaves the room (Boyle 387). China’s love is also questioned when she chooses to testify against Jeremy, blaming him for the death of their child, claiming to have believed she had a miscarriage. Yet she claims to still love him. In this short story, Boyle uses water to symbolize the state of their relationship (Robertson). Boyle mentions it raining or not raining fourteen times.
When the water is calm and peaceful then their relationship is going well and blooming (Robertson). However, when the water turns rapid, so does the relationship. For instance, when Jeremy and China go on their five day backpacking trip near the lake, Boyle makes use note that “not a drop” of rain is suppose to fall (Boyle 383). With no rain in sight Jeremy and China are going to have very peaceful trip. Another example of “not a drop” of rain falling is the night before Jeremy is arrested and he is dreaming of fishing in the river, that is also a peaceful moment for him.
On the other hand, the day China’s water breaks we are told that “it is raining, raining hard” which is a sign that their relationship is struggling (Boyle 386). Later that evening “the rain had turned to ice” this could be a sign of how cold they are toward each other (Boyle 386). After hours of labor and hours of rain the baby is born. The very next day when the police come to arrest Jeremy it is raining again. Boyle draws parallels between China’s dorm life and her time at Sarah Barnes Cooper Women’s Correctional Institute (Kettering).
The food “was exactly what they served at the dining hall in college,” and the room was “just like a dorm room, except that they locked the doors at night” (Boyle 388). The image of the moon is used to unify the story (Kettering). China quotes a John Donne poem to Jeremy, saying she loves him “More than Moon” (Boyle 384). As she grows with her pregnancy, he begins to call her “More than Moon” since her stomach is so round and white (Boyle 384). The note that she sends to him during the trial references the poem again, saying that she loves him “More than Moon” (Boyle 389).
Boyle uses nature to symbolize the emotions that Jeremy and China feel. For example, spring and winter are used to show the highs and lows that China and Jeremy go through during these times of the year. When Jeremy and China are so in love with one another, Boyle uses imagery associated with spring to indicate that their love is fertile and growing (“Term”). I feel that Boyle uses this story as an attempt to inform us that no matter how in love we think we are, something can always go wrong, and that you may never get that love back.
He allows us to see and feel what Jeremy and China feel through what they say to each other and the words he uses to describe their love. As the story continues we gain more understanding of their relationship, and this is why the story is so heart breaking when China turns her back on Jeremy at the end to save her own future. This whole story triggers our emotions, it allows us to feel the love they have for each other and then feel the betrayal. Which makes Boyle’s point very clear, love does not conquer all.
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