The Night Watch: Helen's emotions

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The Night Watch: Helen's emotions

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jun 1, 2015, 11:59am

Helen is a sympathetic, if uncomfortable character. What part of Helen's jealousy—the "gnome," as she calls it, that lurks in the back of her mind—and solution to her riotous emotions rang most true? Do you think these are emotions that people have?

jun 2, 2015, 2:58pm

It seems her emotions go up and down. She seems very distrustful of people around her.

jun 2, 2015, 3:56pm

I think she's always afraid of losing something or, more specifically, someone. I wonder if we're going to find out about some significant loss in her life as we go back in time.

jun 3, 2015, 3:52pm

Helen is very insecure and doesn't want to have to pretend that she does not have a lesbian relationship with Julia. She sees herself as an onion or squashed cabbage, while Julia is very handsome and self-assured. I believe she sees Julia as her only chance for love, though love for Helen is not a happy or comfortable emotion. It seems to me that Julia is only using Helen and waiting for something or someone better to come along. Who knows, maybe Ursula will be the one.

jun 4, 2015, 6:07pm

>4 triciareads55: Interesting theory. I agree with your assessment of Helen, and how she feels about love, but since we only have her POV to go on, I'm not quite willing to assign such... antipathy to Julia and her motives. I think she really and truly loved Helen once (maybe still does, or still hopes things will resolve in time), but is feeling a bit stifled by Helen—particularly her jealousy.

jun 4, 2015, 8:21pm

True, loranne, Julia may be put off Helen's possessiveness and jealousy, but doesn't that also wear out a relationship.

jun 6, 2015, 12:49pm

>4 triciareads55: and >5 lorannen: I agree here. I love Waters's detailed portrayal of real human emotion, doubt, "trials and tribulations" if you will. I think there are many relationships that can have these sort of dynamics, one partner less confident than the other, one who's more jealous than the other...I've certainly been in a similar relationship before.

I don't know if Helen sees Julia as her only chance for love, however. I think she just really loves Julia and is perhaps too self-conscious that they're growing apart, growing on different levels almost--or at least becoming aware that they've been on different levels all along. Helen even comments that Ursula is more Julia's `type` or `class`: smart-looking, neat, "put together." She seems to see herself as more plain, down-to-earth, in another league from Julia.

I wonder if anything will develop between Ursula and Julia, based on Helen's thoughts. Waters is definitely foreshadowing a conflict or struggle in Helen's and Julia's relationship--Julia is becoming more famous with her books, they must keep their relationship a secret, Helen is unconfident and seems to question Julia's love for her... very curious to see how this plays out.

jun 8, 2015, 7:46pm

Helen probably can't help her jealousy. She is out earning a living all day, every day while Julia lives the glamourous life of a writer. It isn't mentioned but I wouldn't be surprised if Helen's salary isn't what is used for living expenses as Julia seems to be just getting going as a writer and even now many writers don't make much money. Helen doesn't expect all that much from Julia but she does need to be wanted. Coming home to an empty house with no indication of where the partner has gone would be hard to take. Having read the first part of the 1944 section it seems like Julia courted Helen but maybe once she got her the thrill was gone.

jun 9, 2015, 1:36pm

I think that a source of friction in relationships is when one person loves more strongly, intently, than the other. Kay seems to have overwhelmed Helen in their relationship, which meant more to Kay than to Helen. Now, Helen in in the position of the more vulnerable partner with Julia.

jun 19, 2015, 8:45pm

Yes, I agree. The tables have turned on Helen, seems to have less grace to handle it than Kay did. Not to say that Kay wasn't hurt by Helen's loss but she seemed to remain resilient while I'm not so sure Helen will.