the beginning is a summary the end is the reading response
On our first day of class in Eng 140 we were assigned two stories to read for the next class; “Mercy” by Pinckney Benedict and “The Love of My Life” by T.C. Boyle. I will be writing about “The Love of My Life” by T.C. Boyle because while the story “Mercy” is fun and enjoyable it did not affect me as much as “The Love of My Life.” The main characters are a girl named China and a boy named Jeremy. The story begins disarmingly pleasant the main character China is in love with Jeremy and he with her. They go on romantic walks, drink together, and watch horror movies together. The story continues to be pleasant and tells of the spring and how everything was green and then the two went on a trip to a lake together for spring break and having sex. This is where the story gets suspiciously darker in the condescending thoughts that China and Jeremy have toward the people who had children while still going to school and they called them “breeders overpopulating an overpopulated world and ruining their lives in the process.” The next part of the story is the fall when the two left for college and China found out that she was pregnant. This is where the story coasts along the edge of total darkness telling the progression of her self deception and denial wearing baggy clothes to hid the physical signs of her pregnancy, not talking to anyone but Jeremy about it, and telling herself that is was just her putting on weight like everyone else. Jeremy and China rented a hotel and she proceeded to deliver her baby girl and then the story falls into utter darkness in the blackest, vilest, most terrible thing that I have ever read in any story ever. She says “‘Get rid of it. Just get rid of it’” and he does not giving a thought to the dead child wrapped in plastic which he can call meat. I had to stop reading this story here and I want away for a while in a blind almost trancelike state trying and quelling attempts to comprehend what could possibly be the motivation to murder a new-born child or any person new-born, PRE-BORN, or any age for any reason. I could not stop thinking about the story and desperately hopeful I knew that I had to finish the story to see if anything could possibly even marginally rectify the pain inside me for being mentally and emotionally violated by the information in the story I just read. Even now when I am writing this reading response I am fighting back the tears that threaten to over flow down my face. The rest of the story I read an emotional stupor trying to finish so I could put the story down and get as far away from the book and the situation described in the book as possible. The rest of the story is the two of them being arrested and tried for first-degree murder and murder by abuse and neglect. The story ends with China reliving the time when the two of them were first in love.
At first I did not like this story because of the powerful emotional effect it had on me. After calming down (which took about eight hours, a ten minute cry with my mom, and a night of fitful sleep) I finally started to realize the point of this masterpiece of a catastrophe. I see now the elements of this story that are useful for teaching a lesson. China’s name may be an attack on the Chinese government’s policy of only allowing the people in cities to have only one girl or two boys and killing the extras. The child that was discarded by China and Jeremy was a girl. They both watched horror movies that desensitized them to the sanctity of human life as well as letting China live in a fantasy world of her own making. Their parents while not necessarily allowing them to, did not stop them from consuming alcoholic beverages. Jeremy’s mother was having sexual relations with a man she was not married to and all three of Jeremy and China’s parents allowed them to spend time together unsupervised for extended periods of time. The main characters have a condescending view of the people that have children calling them breeders as I mentioned earlier. If the point of this story was to criticize these traits of our culture than I applaud the author on creating a powerful masterpiece of the state of our decaying culture; But if he is not and just added those details for no reason than this vile piece of refuse that dares to call itself literature should be violently disposed of. My immediate emotional reaction to this piece was anger at the characters for their actions and the author for showing them to me. Later my reaction was extreme heartache and sorrow for the girl that did not have the chance to live her life and that sorrow was quickly joined by the sorrow for the multitudes of children who have been aborted and have not been able to like their individual lives. There was but one specific place in the story that provoked the strongest emotions and that place is where there is confirmation of the horrible deed committed by the two “He never gave a thought to what lay discarded in the Dumpster out back, itself wrapped in plastic, so much meat, so much cold meat” (Boyle).
Boyle, T.C. The Love of My Life. The ECCO Anthology of Contemporary American Short Fiction Ed. Joyce Carol Oates, Christopher R. Beha 1st Ed. New York: Harper Perennial, 2008. 133-152.