I was so, so outraged/let down/sickened by Sandro’s cheating on Reno that I had to turn to the book to try to glean some reason for it, some little thing that might elucidate his motive behind it and quell my disgust. I have not really found anything hefty enough yet, anything that would justify it. But here is my attempt at exploring the how could he! in all of this: page 364, and Sandro is discussing figurative stones and the idea that the soul is a thing that has to be weighted down — or at least, people feel that they have to hold down their inner beings with certain distractions, people, or passions, that the soul is something that’s truly a part of us and therefore something lose-able. “You had to maintain your hold on it by vigilantly keeping watch over whatever slight and intangible thing gave your life meaning. Call it a soul, or presence” (364).
I think Sandro keeps hold on his soul (or thinks that he does) by wrapping women like Talia, Giddle, and Gloria in his wake, having them influenced by his influence. They provide a sort of comfort and familiarity to his life, and a feeling of being needed, as he describes with the medley of wives he’s had flings with: “he let himself be enjoyed by these women who dictated” (370). There is a sense of self-worth, then, that Sandro extracts from these interactions; they are stones, keeping his soul weighed down and shaped, giving order to something he views as “airy and evanescent” (364). And I think it began with Talia. With her there is forwardness, an offering – “it became a habit he relied on” (370). So when she comes again into his life, even with Reno at his side — so generous and wide-eyed — he can’t resist from picking up this proffered stone again, to ballast a flighty soul.