Bill is an obnoxious character, whom Spark uses to make fun of modern fads. Being a believer in the benefits of macrobiotic food, Bill claims to be an “Enlightenment Leader” of “the movement”. When he reveals this to Lise, he “smiles widely towards her, he breathes into her face and touches her knee.” He possesses the ability to charm, however his method is very invasive and predatory. Continuing to pester her about macrobiotic food, he tells Lise: “You’ll soon change your eating habits, now that we’ve got to know each other.” His controlling manner is very sinister and his intense focus conveys an almost religious fervor - a sense that he is trying to convert her. Spark named Bill’s movement “the Yin-Yang Young,” which immediately likens it to the Hitler Youth and solidifies the reader’s suspicion that what he is a part of is much more menacing and radical than it may seem.
Bill is generally very assertive. When he tells Lise to “look at me, not at him,” he demands her attention and reveals his desire to control her. As Lise gets up to go to the bathroom he feels the need to say “see you come back,” as though other women in the past had felt the need to use the excuse of going to the lavatory to permanently escape from his presence.
Due to Spark’s refusal to reveal Lise’s thoughts, the reader is forced to rely on the external description of her actions and speech in order to understand what she thinks of Bill. Perhaps the most telling of Lise’s statements is: “the men in Naples are sexy.” Bill’s sermon on macrobiotics has not affected her in the least. The only thing that she has registered from everything that he said is the name of the city. She isn’t really listening to him at all because she knows that he’s not her “type”. She has no problem telling him to “Mind [his] own business” when he begins to pry into her plans. Her authoritative tone, followed by the mocking “stick to your yin and your yang,” shows that she has no intention of allowing him to...
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