He took her up on it, he shouted yes. He wanted never to be away from her. She had the spark of life.

This line is introduced near the beginning of the story, when Grant responds with immediate enthusiasm to Fiona’s suggestion that it might be fun to get married. Fiona loves to tease the men courting her, especially Grant, and he is unsure in that moment whether she is joking. However, his attraction to her is so strong that he is willing to risk ridicule. Throughout the story and their lives together, he finds Fiona mesmerizing. Even as he has multiple affairs, he values his connection to Fiona and seeks her attention. This quote, however, also reveals Grant’s selfish nature, as the details of his affairs unfold later in the story. Grant sees Fiona according to how she makes him feel. Similarly, his affairs are meant to bolster his self-image and self-worth rather than offering any real parts of himself to the women he sleeps with. Though he views himself as a somewhat benevolent man, he actually defines himself by what he gains from his romantic interactions with women.

Nowhere had there been any acknowledgment that the life of a philanderer (if that was what Grant had to call himself—he who had not had half as many conquests as the man who had reproached him in his dream) involved acts of generosity, and even sacrifice.

This quote occurs after Grant’s troubling dream and subsequent memory of a messy affair with a student which threatened his social standing and forced his early retirement. Rather than admitting to himself the ways in which his behavior was reprehensible and actually hurt his marriage, Grant twists his internal logic in order to cast his actions as noble and benevolent. This reasoning is also the catalyst for his decision to give Fiona a better life than the wives of the colleagues who also had extramarital affairs. His flawed perception of his actions stands as a blockade toward true happiness and a solid connection with his wife, though his ego prevents this personal discovery from becoming a realization. Grant likewise sees his treatment of the women he slept with as generous and unappreciated, ignoring the anger of the girl who appears in his dream and his abandonment of Jacqui. This shows Grant’s willingness to not only act according to his own desires but also to justify his actions as intended to please others.