Analysis

Bradley's initial descriptions of Julian are influenced by the fact that he is telling the story. Julian appears to be aggressively interested in Bradley, a state of affairs that may not actually exist. Julian's aggressive interest can be seen when she comes with her mother to return the water buffalo girl; when she corners him outside to talk about Hamlet; when she calls him her guru and teacher; and when she invites herself over to his house for the Hamlet tutorial. These actions all are very subtle, but they confirm Bradley's own belief that Julian's love for him was sincere and self-motivated, not merely an unsubstantiated response to an old man's lustful claim.

Bradley's erotic desires start to emerge in this section, both in relation to Rachel and Julian. Bradley does not think frequently about sex, but the language that he uses to describe the women shows his sexual interest. Rachel is old and flabby, with "dulled hair"; Julian is young, fresh, and bare foot. The vitality and color in the words that Bradley uses to depict Julian indicate that he is far more interested in her than he is in her mother. The actual sex scene between Rachel and Bradley is somewhat comic, as Rachel immediately sheds all her clothes and tries to press against Bradley who is still dressed. Even Bradley thinks of how foolish the two must look. Eventually, he takes off his clothes, but does so dutifully. When he later sees Julian trying on the purple boots, this emotion changes dramatically. The youth and perfection of her body inspire a surge of lust. Furthermore, although Bradley says that he bought Julian the boots to quiet her, it seems equally likely that he bought her the boots because he already has developed a crush on her. The idea of buying someone purple boots to keep them quiet after all, does not really make sense. His justification here should be questioned.

Bradley's ambiguous feelings towards Arnold become clear in this section when he decides to send Arnold a scathing review of his new book. Bradley wants to send the review because he feels slightly jealous of Arnold and Christian's closeness. His admission of jealousy is unusual since he usually maintains that he is never jealous of Arnold. The actual reprinting of the review helps to articulate the specific artistic differences between the two men. Bradley criticizes Arnold's book because it was quickly produced and lacks artistry. Murdoch's presentation of this critique is ironic because it is one that frequently was leveled at her. She, like Arnold Baffin, occasionally managed to draft one novel per year, and her work was also condemned for artistic immaturity. Even though this critique could be self-referencing, Murdoch does not seem to be saying that it is entirely wrong. The printing of the review does play an important role in showing Bradley's jealousy and artistic snobbery.