Did he believe that pap, the aunt wondered? She guessed that this was Quoyle's invention, this love-starved Petal. Took one look at the arctic eyes, the rigidly seductive pose of Petal's photograph, Quoyle's silly rose in a water glass beside it, and thought to herself, there was a bitch in high heels.
These lines appear right after Quoyle learns of Petal's car accident, when the aunt comes to pick up Guy's ashes. At a point in the novel, when we may be growing impatient with Quoyle's softness, the aunt shows up as if to provide a little backbone to Quoyle, but also to the narrative in general. She immediately recognizes the situation for what it is: a cruel woman taking advantage of Quoyle's soft vulnerability. Without the entry of the aunt's capable personality in Chapter 3, the reader might lose interest in a world so hyperbolically cruel and troubled. In fact, Quoyle's character is somewhat enabled by the aunt's, at least at the beginning of the book. She provides some stability for the novel, in that her response to people is more typically critical than Quoyle's. Quoyle's submissiveness is extreme to the point of seeming unrealistic. As in a magic-realism kind of genre, the unrealistic elements of the narrative must be bolstered by realism that can serve as a benchmark for the reader. The aunt keeps the reader engaged by representing a more conventional response to the other character's actions and personalities.