Professor B. Lewis
3 October 2012
Opposite ends of the same stick
In “Sarah Cole: A Type of Love Story” by Russell Banks, the main character Ron believing himself to be so much more above the woman he once dated because of his great looks. Ron was a successful lawyer in the state of New Hampshire when he met a woman named Sarah Cole. Except there was a catch—Sarah Cole was the most homely woman Ron had ever seen. Despite that, Ron and Sarah eventually engage in a relationship that would soon take a turn for the worst. Now, 10 years later, Ron tries to relive those past events with Sarah, to figure out what if what he had done to Sarah was wrong. Ron comes to the conclusion that he mistreated Sarah because he was so obsessed with the idea that he was so much better looking than her, and he looks back to those events with much regret, wishing he could change his ways, and although they were on different ends of the social spectrum, he truly did love her for everything that she was.
The author starts off the story with specific traits of the characters, particularly highlighting the ego that exists within the main character Ron. Banks puts extra effort into emphasizing that Ron believed himself to be a very attractive and desirable man. “…I must tell you that I was extremely handsome then and if Sarah were not dead, you’d think I were cruel, for I must tell you that Sarah was very homely. In fact, she was the homeliest woman I have ever known” (Banks 1) The narrator explicitly states that his opinion of himself was that he was extremely handsome—reinforcing the idea that Ron had quite the big ego. “Ron is effortlessly attractive, a genetic wonder, tall, slender, symmetrical, and clean.” Ron is heavily characterized as someone who is simply in love with himself, he thinks of himself as the closest thing to perfection in a male—an archaic superficial reflection of the female fantasy. . “He goes on reading. He takes a second sip of his drink. Everyone in the room, the three or four men scattered along the bar, the tall, thin bartender, and several people in the booths at the back, watches him do these ordinary things” (3). He goes as far as believing himself to be somewhat of a celebrity—that everyone around him spends their time observing him, envying him, wishing they could be the perfection that was Ron. He believes himself to be the center of everyone’s attention, and seemingly does a great job of being humble about it. He is convinced that everyone around him thinks he is special, so special that they would admire the little things he does—read the paper, light his cigarette, sip his drink. The truth is, I was pretty, extremely so, and she was not, extremely so, and I knew it and she knew it. She walked out the door of Osgood's determined to make love to a man much prettier than any she had seen up close before, and I walked out determined to make love to a woman much homelier than any I had made love to before. We were, in a sense, equals (11). Ron states that because of how above average he is in comparison to how below average Sarah is, that there was an emotional connection—one that was acceptable because the difference in superficial reflection archaic social status was so large that it balanced out in perfect equilibrium—as long as she is ugly and he is beautiful, they will operate under perfect harmony. At least, that was how Ron previously justified his relations with her. As Ron looks back at it now, he slowly begins to understand that his former self was just very good at making up excuses to do things that he wanted to do, even if they were not acceptable by his social standards. He assumed that although she was so repulsive, his attractiveness would make up for it, but in reality, he slowly began to create an attachment towards Sarah, one that he was not aware of at the time because he was so engulfed in his own ego. Because of this, Ron continues to take Sarah for granted up...