Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Let the Right One In: Full of Contrasts

I think that Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In definitely flows with the progression of the vampire and the vampire tale. It is a novel full of character contrasts, and on that note, I think it would be interesting to compare and contrast Eli to some of the vampires found in earlier novels that we have read in this class.

To begin, it is obvious to contrast Eli’s situation with Claudia from Interview with the Vampire, based on their age and appearance. While Claudia is an aged being trapped in a young body, Eli has many difficulties with every-day vampire life because of her size and mental capacity. Claudia is able to grow mentally, yet Eli’s mentality reflects her young appearance. Whereas Claudia grew sick of Louis and Lestat and wished for her own independence, Eli knows that she cannot make it without assistance. But Claudia has a different relationship with Louis and Lestat, as even though they provide for Claudia, they also teach her the ways of the vampire. Eli has no one to teach her what to do, and even if she did, she still would not be able to feed for herself.

Out of all the vampire characters, I think that Eli compares and contrasts best with Carmilla. Both charcters are noticeably similar on the surface because of their young ages and mysterious nature.  I think that the relationship between Oskar and Eli is quite similar to the relationship between Laura and Carmilla, as the two are drawn to each other and are more comfortable together than with any other beings. I think that the scene in which Eli comes to Oskar’s house naked shows the bond that these two have. Lindqvist writes, “They laid like that for a long time. When Oskar could tell from his mom’s breathing that she had fallen asleep again, when the lump of their hands was warmed through and starting to get sweaty, he whispered: ‘Where have you been?’ … Oskar nodded, signaling that he wasn’t going to ask her any more questions, and Eli put both her hands under her head, staring up at the ceiling. ‘I was feeling lonely. So I came here. Was that OK?” (168 - 169). Even though Oskar is suspicious of Eli, he doesn’t care because he finally has someone in his life that accepts him for who he is. The fact that Lindqvist takes away Eli‘s sexuality adds a new dimension to their relationship. Oskar asks, “Then what are you?” (170), to which Eli replies “Nothing” (170). So far in the novel, Eli and Oskar’s friendship is one of mutual need for companionship. Oskar’s “friends” (105) clearly aren’t his friends, and Eli needs someone like Oskar in her life. In Carmilla, Laura was drawn to Carmilla because of her dreams, Carmilla’s beauty, and her newfound awakened sexuality. Carmilla claimed to love Laura, yet it is impossible to know if she was telling the truth or merely wanted to feed more off of Laura.

Within the novel itself, I think the contrast between Hakan and Eli is very interesting as well. In a sense, while Eli is the supernatural version of a monster, Hakan is the realistic version of a monster. Hakan will do anything for Eli, although he has his own motivations.

One thing I’m not quite sure about the novel is the constant use of urine and bodily functions. In a way, I think this contrasts to blood -- blood being considered pure, and the bodily functions being considered ‘dirty’. It is difficult to come to a conclusion because the taste of blood is often described by Eli as being impure. Lindqvist writes, “A waft of blue cheese filled Eli’s nostrils as she threw herself over the woman, pushing her mouth against her throat and drinking deeply … The blood tasted like medication. Morphine” (158). Since the narration is from essentially an omniscient perspective, we are given even more information about the vampire than we had from past literature. But the “craving” (161) for blood is contrasted with the human characters’ need for food -- life feeding on life -- which reminded me a lot of Renfield in Dracula.

I don’t think that anyone in this novel can really be considered “innocent”, although Eli and Oskar‘s relationship can probably be considered more uncorrupted than any other relationship in past vampire novels. As far as the title of the story goes, so far I can see it applying to both Eli and Oskar. They each fill a void in the other’s life, yet they are initially hesitant to let each other in because everyone else has let them down so much. Much like Carmilla, I am Legend, and Interview with the Vampire, I think that this vampire novel conveys the need for companionship and unconditional empathy.

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