Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sophie's Sacrifice

It's funny. I didn't stop to think of this before but Sophie Grayson who only figures into a few quick reminisces is none the less incredibly important to the plot of To Touch the Sun. In the second book I offer a scene on how Narain and Sophie met, and I plan to delve into their relationship in depth in a later novel in the series. But Sophie's presence in Narain's life make it so much easier. Her absence is palpable.

After Narain returned to Europe from his aborted attempt to reunite with his family, he was lost. Because of his vampirism, he could only move about at night and was forced to hide out where ever he could during the day (once his money was gone and he could no longer afford lodging). Feeding was difficult since, aside from what he considered the immorality of so intimate an act, Narain was worried he might pass the condition, and all its inherent power, on to someone who was dangerous.  

One of the themes I wanted to examine in this series was the inconveniences of this life altering condition. While Narain has the prerequisite strength and longevity found in so many vampire legends, he also has certain concerns that aren't often addressed. How does a man morally repulsed by the act feed from a host, even if they don't need to die for him to do so? Where does a man who must shun the sun hide when he doesn't have a castle to flee to or money to burn? And what does a man who craves human contact do when most of the people are in bed when he's able to roam around. I explore this even more in the fourth book of the series, but I touch on it in this first novel. After his conversion to vampirism, Narain's main motivation in his very long life is to achieve and retain some semblance of normalcy. 

Sophie is key to this. 

The couple fall in love and thanks to her resources, she's able to help him have as normal a life as possible even later helping him achieve his dream of becoming a chef when they move to Chicago and open a restaurant. When it's discovered early on in their relationship, through necessity, that Sophie is immune to whatever causes vampirism, she becomes Narain's food source, freeing him from the guilt and worry of having to go out and hunt for his food. Aside from some other minor logistical inconveniences, Narain suddenly realizes that Alphonse may have been right. It is possible for him, with some adjustment, to lead a relatively normal life. Thanks to this, in many respects, he grows complacent to the realities of what he is.

When the novel opens, Narain has reached a crossroads. Sophie is gone, succumbing to cancer the year before. She had over the years stored blood realizing that she would continue to age and eventually die and hoping to give Narain a chance to transition back to hunting for food. Narain, however, in grief-induced denial, ignored the inevitable. Now the blood is gone, and he's left having to hunt again yet unable to bring himself to do so. He has to though since, if his starvation should drag on too long, the body will make the decision for him and it could be deadly for whoever he should chance upon in this feral-like state. The last thing he and his normal business partner need is for Narain to lose control.

It would put at risk everything he worked so hard for: That normalcy that Sophie helped him attain. Everything he does after that is done in an attempt to cling to that normalcy.

So Sophie's presence and absence is integral because they offer motivation to Narain. And after she's gone, he doesn't always make the wisest choices.

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