Last Updated 14 Apr 2020

T.C. Boyle Writes of Infidelity

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Katherine Meyer English 1100 Sec. 131 November 4th, 2008 Indefinitely Infantile Infidelity As an apparent defiance of one of the Ten Commandments, Adultery, the act of voluntary sexual involvement between a married individual and someone whom is not his or her spouse is a widely frowned upon taboo that disregards social norms. Staying true to his style and content by pushing the envelope on controversial topics such as this in his writing, T. C. Boyle frequently addresses the theme of adultery throughout many of his short stories.Reoccurring in the selections “Caviar” and “All Shook Up” adultery takes on a disturbing component of the stories as the main characters similarly get caught up in the unacceptable.

With differing motives, paralleling sexual interests and desires, as well as converse outcomes for the two men defying the sacred vows they once made under holy matrimony, Boyle weaves two complex stories of deceit and malice. Adultery outside the world of fiction is committed for an infinite number of reasons; attempted justifications that can roll on for miles.In these particular stories, aside from their irrepressible habitual instincts, the main characters Mr. Trimpie and Patrick in “Caviar” and “All Shook up” have differing objectives when they decide to officially sever the vows they once made to their wives. The differing motives for each man’s imprudent acts against the principles of marriage cover a broad spectrum of rationale. Leading to his downfall, In “Caviar” the central character Mr. Trimpie finds himself unable to reproduce with his sterile wife, Marie.

Although he is not to blame for the fruitless attempts at an offspring as Boyle describes, “The bad news was that Marie’s ovaries were shot” (109) it is apparent that his own insecurities in addition to other factors brand him vulnerable and susceptible to bad judgment, such as infidelity. This vulnerability presents itself when he frequently references his lack of education and wealth throughout the story as seen here, “I was on the wrong end of the socioeconomic ladder, if you know what I mean” (106).As a surrogate mother is introduced into the picture and becomes pregnant with his natural child, Mr. Trimpie suddenly finds himself hot for the young carrier. The flustered young man expressed, “The thought of it, of my son floating around in his own little sea just behind the sweet bulge of her belly… well, it inflamed me, got me mad with lust and passion and spiritual love too” (114). This reveals that the motivation behind Mr. Trimpie’s act of adultery was not purely the result of meaningless attraction or fragile insecurity though.

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The feeble father consequently ends up falling in love with the biological mother of his child and is unable to restrain himself. Intercourse with Wendy, the young stand-in mother becomes a frequent occurrence for the covetous husband stigmatizing him a cheater once and for all. Mr. Trimpie’s counter character, Patrick, found in Boyle’s short story entitled “All Shook Up” has his own prerogative concerning his execution of adultery in his story. Patrick’s wife, Judy, disappeared with another man prior to a newlywed couple, Cindy and Joey conveniently moving next door.Initially compelled to Cindy because of her sultry, suggestive manner, Patrick recalls a late night after what started out as a neighborly dinner, “She was kneeling beside me on the couch; then she kicked her leg out as if mounting a horse and brought her knee softly between my legs until I could feel the pressure lighting up my groin” (126). Still exhibiting his wedding band on the left ring finger, Patrick engages in the act of infidelity with Cindy shortly after this night.

Describing the event, Patrick stated, “She felt good, and a little strange: she wasn’t Judy” (130). Based on his assessment of the night, Boyle alludes to the reader that Patrick is still yearning for his wife. Patrick bluntly conveys, “I felt evil and betrayed and wanted his wife because I had wounds to salve and because she was there” (127). The meaningless sex with Cindy was an attempt to fill a void and heal the pain from Judy’s abandonment.In addition to his emotionless mind-set concerning Cindy and their intercourse, his lack of concern towards the young woman becomes more evident as he confirms, “I should have held her, I guess, should have probed deep in my counselor’s lexicon for words of comfort and assurance, but I didn’t” (130). Patrick views Cindy as well as their dance, as nothing more than a physical encounter, ruling out any deeper vehicle of motivation for his actions. Although the two men have contrasting motivations driving their less than admissible behaviors, they do however share common ground concerning their sexual interests and desires.

Mr. Trimpie and Patrick alike are attracted to barely pubescent young girls who entice them with their youthful sex appeal. From the story “Caviar,” the pedophilic character Mr. Trimpie responds to the news of Wendy’s growing belly as follows: “I grinned like an idiot, thrilled at the way the panties grabbed her thighs- white nylon dancing pink flowers- and how her little pointed breasts were beginning to strain at the brassiere. I wanted to put my tongue in her naval” (113).Asserting such a disturbing observation, it is obvious that this man finds Wendy’s juvenile body parts, as well as childish undergarments as much of a turn on as the fact that she is carrying his child. Staying true to the paralleling interest in adolescent females, in the short story “All Shook Up,” Cindy, the woman Patrick kanoodles with is also a young lady who exerts her youthful charm on the much older man.

Describing Cindy, Pat states, “She was wearing a halter top and gym shorts, her hair was pinned up, and her perfect little toes looked freshly painted” (121).His innocent depiction of a young girl standing at his front door exudes sexual frustration. Evident in this passage, Boyle writes: “I wanted her like a forbidden fruit, wanted her like I’d wanted half of the knocked-up, washed-out, defiant little twits who paraded through my office each year” (127). Just as disturbing as Mr. Trimpie’s erotic observations of Wendy, this passage is Patrick’s confession that he too secretly craves the taste of a freshly ripened young woman. Further emphasizing the two men’s interest in similar types of women, Boyle disguises coincidental details with reference to the women in his text.Boyle illustrates Wendy in the short story “Caviar” by stating, “Her eyes were gray, and there was a violet clock in the right one” (121).

Resembling Wendy’s gray eyes, Cindy in “All Shook Up” is described in the same manner: “Her eyes were gray, the color of drift ice on the river” (111). Both men who commit the infidelity identify with one another in regards to their type of secondary woman. Both acts of adultery have serious impacts on the lives of Mr. Trimpie and Patrick. Although cheating on a spouse typically results in formidable outcomes, the aftermath for each of the two men in “Caviar” and “All Shook Up” are surprisingly converse.

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T.C. Boyle Writes of Infidelity. (2018, Oct 17). Retrieved from

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