The large capacity for socialization and networking within the human species allows for the formation, evolution, and destruction of many relationships over a lifetime. The basis of human relationships consists of various elements, including, but not limited to physical, mental, and emotional attraction. A balance between all these elements within a relationship can only strengthen and possibly prolong its duration; however, relationships based on superficial attractions have a weak foundation and a greater chance of termination. A relationship only fulfilling one of these elements can be seen in the novel, Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer, by Steven Millhauser, and provides a good example of a relationship based on superficial desires. In the novel, Martin Dressler and Caroline Vernon’s relationship has a foundation of sand, slowly crumbling beneath them. What then makes Martin’s attraction towards Caroline so strong? His attraction for Caroline is based on his ability to manipulate and dominate over her, and fueled by his subconscious obsession. These features are illustrated throughout the novel when he references Caroline as child-like and defenseless, and views her as a ghostly invader within his mind. Martin’s superiority over Caroline seems to stem from his reoccurring indication of her as a child, which appears in the novel several times.
When meeting a person, the first impression can, and most times does, influence how a relationship develops and proceeds. When Martin is first introduced to Caroline Vernon in the Bellingham Hotel, he quickly notes her “small and almost childish features, especially her little girl’s nose” (Millhauser 78). Martin immediately makes these mental remarks about Caroline and begins to develop a persona for her, which only grows as the relationship develops. Further into the novel, but prior to Martin and Caroline’s marriage, Martin again describes Caroline “as if she were a little girl lost in a...
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