What strikes me most while I’m reading In the House are not the other-worldly, surreal moments, but the moments that stay true to the world as we know it. I find that because the vegetables in the wife’s garden cannot grow because she forgot to sing worms into existence to make the soil fruitful is more fascinating than the fact that the wife can sing things into existence. This world Bell has created depends upon the aspects of the world he changes, as well as the aspects in which these things remain the same.
The best moment of this that I can find is on page 229, when the husband, upon seeing his wife again in the deep house says, “all I wanted in return was for her to speak some part of what I had come so far to hear: my own name returned, perhaps, or else an accusation, best followed by the terms of my eventual forgiveness.” This moment really threw me off. Forgiveness seems to be much too normal of an expectation given these extraordinary circumstances. My reaction to this moment was to postulate how she would even forgive him. What would she say? How is someone forgiven after they’ve done everything that the husband has done? Most bluntly, why would she forgive him?
The desire to be forgiven remains, but the ability to earn forgiveness is taken away. Perhaps the visit to the deep house (or underworld, as we’ve been discussing in class) is his attempt to prove himself worthy of her forgiveness, and that is why he seems to expect it once they are reunited. But it seems like the real and the unreal cannot coexist, at least not all the time.