With Anna, the Brangwen family officially becomes a line of narcissistic persons. Her relationship with Tom is perhaps the direct cause. While Tom doesn’t place unrealistic expectations on Anna, as his mother before did to him, Tom does encourage a deep sense of personal importance in Anna and encourages her grandiosity. As previously mentioned, Tom insists that Anna can be and have whatever she wants. As such, Anna develops a strong bond with her adoptive father. She comes to rely on him for both comfort and recognition of self. Much like Tom’s relationship with Lydia, Anna’s relationship to Tom takes on a narcissistic idealizing element.
Initially, Anna maintains a very close and possessive relationship with her mother. She “seemed cold, resenting her mother, critical of her. It was: ‘I don’t like you to do that, mother,’ or, ‘I don’t like you to say that’” (65). Yet at the same time, Anna becomes inconsolable when her mother is away for too long. While Anna can be clingy towards her mother, she can also be kind and caring: “She was curiously hard, and then passionately tender-hearted. Her mother was ill, the child stole about on tip-toe in the bedroom for hours, being nurse, and doing the thing thoughtfully and diligently” (68); however, “Another day, her mother was unhappy, Anna would stand . . . glowering” (68). Lawrence takes care to tell the reader that Anna is “difficult with her affections” (67). Despite her later closeness and narcissistic attachment to Tom, Anna is initially very hostile towards Tom and his attempts to create a relationship with Lydia. She angrily confronts Tom in his and Lydia’s bed, asserting that her mother only sleeps with her. Tom’s attempts to compromise with all three of them sharing a bed are met with Anna’s whining protests. When Tom asks Anna if she likes Lydia now having a husband, she replies “No . . . I don’t want” (65).
Anna remains resistant to Tom for some time, arguing that she doesn’t live with him but rather with her mother. As Lydia grows more distant due to her pregnancy, Anna becomes restless. She demands to go “home” (69). Despite herself, however, Anna “gradually, without knowing it herself . . . clung to [Tom], in her lost, childish, desolate moments, when it was good to creep up to something big and warm, and bury her little self in his big, unlimited being” (66). As the distance between Anna and Lydia grows, Anna begins to shift her attentions to Tom. After the barn scene previously described, Tom’s presence and approval become deeply important to her.
Validation through Tom becomes exceedingly important to Anna. Because Anna holds her father in such high esteem, she assumes that he is an important person to all and that her association with him in turn means that “she [is] installed beside him on high” (81). We are told that “she did not like the people who saluted [Tom] and did not salute her” (81), meaning that Anna feels that due to her connection to her father—whom she deems to be an important man— she too is special and deserving of respect and admiration. When this notion is contradicted, Anna grows angry. For instance, when Tom refers to Anna as solely Lydia’s child, Anna takes this as a personal insult: “Anna was very conscious of her derivation from her mother, in the end, and of her alienation” (83). Anna does not like being reminded that she is not really Tom’s child. Because she has shifted her affections and narcissistic attachment from her mother to Tom—whom she sees as a more reliable source of validation—she wishes to be viewed as Tom’s child rather than Lydia’s.
Because Anna feels in doubt over whether or not Tom views her as his own child, Anna fears abandonment, such as when Tom takes Anna into town and leaves her unattended at the pub while he does business. Anna immediately worries that he has abandoned her: “A deep, gathering coldness of isolation took hold on her. He was never coming back. She sat on, frozen, unmoving” (83). This fear of abandonment and isolation, as both Kohut and Kernberg describe, is at the core of the narcissistic condition. In Tom’s absence, Anna revels in the attention afforded her by the patrons of the pub. Because the men play and joke with her, Anna accepts the attention gladly.
Anna’s interactions with people who are not family members are important to understanding Anna’s narcissistic nature. For instance, the narrator tells us that “Anna did not care much for other children. She domineered them, she treated them as if they were extremely young and incapable, to her they were little people, they were not her equals” (80). This line of thinking persists throughout Anna’s life. As an adolescent, she attempts to make friends at her finishing school only to “[come] to a speedy conclusion; they galled and maddened her, they were petty and mean” (94). Though Anna initially “thought all the girls . . . very ladylike and wonderful” (94), they inevitably fall short of her expectations. Anna has “a curious contempt for ordinary people, a benevolent superiority. She was very shy, and tortured with misery when people did not like her” (92). This is typical of the deep sense of inadequacy and insecurity, and the consequent defensive grandiosity, of pathological narcissism.
Anna is also unable to recognize other people as “real people” (93). Anna’s definition of “real people” aligns with Tom’s vow to make Anna “royal”; she defines the “real world” as “where kings and lords and princes moved and fulfilled their shining lives, whilst queens and ladies and princesses upheld the noble order” (93). Anna’s “real world” is made up of beautiful and important persons, a vastly different place than the Marsh. She despises “ugliness or intrusion or arrogance” (92) in other people. “Very few people whom she met were significant to her. They seemed parts of a herd, undistinguished” (92). Anna refuses to see the everyday people who make up her young life—Tilly the maid, her younger brother Fred, and the man who sells nuts—as fully realized individuals. Though Anna eventually comes to accept Tilly as “belonging to the household” (67), she fails to recognize her as an individual. Anna “adores” (92) her younger brother, Fred, “but did not consider [him] as a real, separate being” (92). Anna does, however, view the elderly Baron Skrebensky as “real” despite the fact that they only ever meet once and he never speaks a word of English to her. Perhaps the idea of the Baron as a “real” person persists because of his lack of interaction with her. Lawrence gives us this insight into Anna’s way of viewing people:
She had a curious shrinking from commonplace people, and particularly from the young lady of her day. She would not go into company because of the ill-at-ease feeling other people brought upon her. She half respected these people, and continuous disillusion maddened her. She wanted to respect them. Still she thought the people that she did not know were wonderful. Those she knew seemed always to be limiting her, tying her up in little falsities that irritated her beyond bearing. She would rather stay at home and avoid the rest of the world, leave it illusory. (94)
Anna’s worldview almost exactly matches Kernberg’s description of the worldview of the narcissist:
This devaluated concept of self can be seen especially in narcissistic patients who divide the world into famous, rich, and great people on the one hand and the despicable, worthless, ‘mediocrity’ on the other. Such patients are afraid of not belonging to the company of the great, rich, and powerful, and of belonging instead to the ‘mediocre,’ by which they mean worthless and despicable rather than ‘average’ in the ordinary sense of the term. (234)
Anna upholds ideals of what people should be and how they should act. Actually interacting with other people shatters her concept of who and what people are supposed to be. Other people are found to be imperfect and flawed, which opens Anna up to the possibility that she is also imperfect and flawed. Because this notion goes against the idea of “specialness” that has been ingrained in Anna by Tom, Anna feels the need to reject the idea that other people are actual people. It is instead easier to pretend that they are “illusory.”
As Kernberg explains, “the intrapsychic world of these patients is populated only by their own grandiose self, by devaluated, shadowy images of self and others, and by potential persecutors representing the non-integrated sadistic superego forerunners, as well as primitive, distorted object images onto whom intense oral sadism has been projected” (282). Therefore, Anna’s devaluation of the people around her is a preemptive strike against their possible rejection of her. The narrator states that “The people she met outside seemed to begrudge her her very existence. They seemed to want to belittle her also . . . . She was never quite sure, in herself, whether she were wrong or whether the others were wrong” (Lawrence 95). Yet “She still kept an ideal: a free, proud lady absolved from the petty ties, existing beyond petty considerations” (95). Thus it is clear that Anna has chosen to continue to devalue others in order to preserve her ideal, grandiose sense of self, the royal “lady” that Tom encourages her to be.
Despite this devaluation of others, Anna still seeks other “special,” “real” people with whom to share her life. Anna’s marriage to Will is, in fact, one of these attempts to create a partnership with another real person. She seeks the seemingly easy marriage that her parents have: “a potent intimacy that existed inarticulate and wild, following its own course” (99). Anna quickly learns, however, that Will is a deeply flawed individual whose view of marriage and partnership is very different from her own.
There is very little to say about Will as an individual because he lacks an individual self in a far more significant way than the other Brangwens do. Whereas Tom and Anna lack whole selves, they still retain a core sense of being. Will, however, does not. Will is defined primarily by his hunger for reality and unity only within or through another person. While Lawrence gives us substantial descriptions of Tom, Anna, and even Ursula outside of their searches for an Other to merge with, he does not provide much information about Will outside of this search. In fact, one could argue that Will’s “self” is comprised entirely of this search. As Schapiro writes, “Will’s inner void, his lack of a coherent or authentic experience of self, dooms the possibility for mutual recognition in his relationship with Anna” (88). It is as though Will’s “self” is exactly what he fears it is: unstable, fragmentary, and entirely dependent on others. As Kleinbard explains using Laing’s theory of ontological insecurity, Will experiences “the feeling that he is unreal and the related fantasy that he is almost entirely dependent upon other people for his reality as well as his personal identity” (154).
This is a similar state to that of Tom at the beginning of the novel. Lawrence even repeats his description of Tom’s state of unreality in Will’s narrative by reusing the flood metaphor. In this instance, however, Will has a rock to cling to in the “heaving flood” (173) of the outside world: Anna. Without Anna, Will fears that he will cease to be.
Was he impotent, or a cripple, or a defective, or a fragment? . . . What was he afraid of? Why did life without Anna seem to him just a horrible welter, everything jostling in a meaningless, dark, fathomless flood? . . . This horrible slipping into unreality drove him mad, his soul screamed with fear and agony. Yet she was pushing him off her . . . thrusting him off, into the deep water, into the frenzy and agony of uncertainty. (174)
Will is ashamed of his need for Anna to provide him with substance as a man. This is consistent with Kernberg’s descriptions of the narcissist’s romantic/sexual relationships: “The greatest fear of these patients is to be dependent on anybody else, because to depend means to hate, envy, and expose themselves to the danger of being exploited, mistreated, and frustrated” (Kernberg 235). Will is putting his existence, so to speak, in Anna’s hands, and thus he sees her “thrusting him off” to be a betrayal of that trust. In Anna, Will had hoped to find a sort of “a hand-in-glove union, not a relationship between two separate people” (Freud and Beyond 160); as we have seen before, the narcissistic Brangwens often “envision their ideal partner[s] as extensions of themselves, as intensely needed, functional aspects of their own subjective experience[s]” (160). Whereas Tom’s relationships closely resemble those described in Kohut’s idealizing transference, Will’s resemble the mirroring transference.
Kohut describes the mirroring transference as the “regressively altered editions of a child’s demands for attention, approval, and for the confirmatory echoing of its presence, and they always contain an admixture of . . . tyranny and over possessiveness” (Kohut 124). Essentially, the narcissist in the midst of the mirroring transference seeks to have the object in some way reflect his or her own person. The narcissist desires—or imagines—a deep similarity in feeling, thought, and action in the object of their “affections” (or perhaps more aptly, their obsession). Will desires Anna to share his need to be one. When she spurns this idea, it drives him into a rage; he needs her to fuel his own sense of self and identity, something that he feels he lacks without her presence. As Kleinbard puts it, “Clinging to Anna . . . Will feels that his life and identity are submerged in hers” (157).
This brings us to Will’s woodcarving of the creation of Eve. In this carving, we get some insight into Will’s feelings about the relationship between men and women. “The carving does reflect Will’s view of woman as a link between God . . . and man, a figure looking for salvation through woman” (147), Ben-Ephraim notes. As previously discussed, Will clings to the idea that Anna supplies him with substance and purpose. Without her, his life lacks order or meaning. But Will does not need Anna, per se, but simply a woman: “A woman, he must have a woman. And having a woman, he must be free of her. It would be the same position. For he could not be free of her” (173). Despite Will’s desire for a woman to complete him, he also fears his dependency on her. Terror or shame at one’s overdependence on another is a hallmark of the narcissistic personality. Many Lawrencian scholars argue that Will sees Anna as a replacement for his mother and thus places her—and other, later female figures in his life—in the role of the pre-oedipal mother-figure. Disturbances in early development can lead to resentment, hatred, or even fear of the mother-figure. In Will’s case, he suffers from a fear of destruction by the mother-figure—Anna. Judith Ruderman discusses this phenomenon in her book The Devouring Mother: “The pre-oedipal tension between the desires for merger and for separation, and the fear of the mother as an ego destroyer, may lead to the child’s perceiving the mother as a wild animal who will eat him up” (10). Essentially, although Will desperately wants to merge with Anna, he also recognizes on a basic level that merging will eradicate his own self. His fear and hatred of the “devouring” maternal figure defends against his desire to merge with her.
Yet Will still desires a female counterpart to whom he can cling and “feed” from, to use Kernberg’s language. Later, in lieu of Anna’s reluctance to serve this purpose, Will seeks other “food,” first from a young woman he meets at the theater, and then his own daughter. No matter whom he preys upon, Will still needs some form of surrender from the female Other in order to be satisfied and to feel dominance over his “other half.” In his relationship with Anna, his failure to dominate disturbs him. Because Anna does not seem to need him, Will feels deeply ashamed:
He was afraid. He was afraid to know he was alone. For she seemed fulfilled and separate and sufficient in her half of the world. He could not bear to know that he was cut off. Why could he not be always one with her? . . . Why must he be set in this separateness, why could she not be with him, close . . . as one with him? She must be one with him. (166)
This shame quickly turns to anger once Anna becomes pregnant. Anna’s pleasure and happiness in her pregnancy only serves to remind Will of the obstacles that now stand between him and his fantasies of merging with her. “He was cruel to her. But all the time he was ashamed. And being ashamed, he was more cruel. For he was ashamed that he could not come to fulfillment without her” (169). Will fears that Anna has gotten all that she needs from him—specifically, a child—and thus he will now be cast aside. Like a child throwing a tantrum, he lashes out in the most harmful ways that he can muster. Will’s shame and defensive reaction exemplify what Kernberg describes as the deepest sense of the narcissistic character:
The narcissistic character defenses protect the patient not only against the intensity of his narcissistic rage, but also against his deep convictions of unworthiness, his frightening image of the world as being devoid of food and love, and his self-concept of the hungry wolf out to kill, eat, and survive. (Kernberg 276)
Because Will depends so heavily on Anna for a sense of wholeness, her rejection causes him to project his own “hunger” onto her. He casts her as the exploitive partner in their relationship; she has taken from and “fed” from him. He makes himself a victim to protect himself from narcissistic injury: “to him she was a flame that consumed him. The flame flowed up his limbs, flowed through him, till he was consumed, till he existed only as an unconscious, dark transit of flame, deriving from her” (Lawrence 121).
It is this hunger for unity and wholeness through another human being—specifically, a woman—that creates such a strain in Anna and Will’s marriage. Going as far back as the gathering of the sheaves scene, one can see how Lawrence foreshadows Anna and Will’s later relational dynamics. In that scene, Anna and Will are moving in tandem on opposite sides of the field. They both feel the rhythm, but Will grows impatient: “Gradually, a low, deep-sounding will in him vibrated to her, tried to set her in accord, tried to bring her gradually to him, to a meeting, till they should be together, till they should meet . . . . Why was there always a space between them . . . . Why was he held away from her?” (115). Eventually, Will breaks out of the rhythm and comes to Anna. When they meet, they kiss passionately. It is after this moment that Will sets his sights specifically on not only marrying Anna, but on totally possessing her. “He wanted her, he wanted to be married to her, he wanted to have her altogether, as his own forever. And he waited, intent, for the accomplishment” (117). The narrator makes a point to tell the reader that “[Will] felt he could not alter from what he was fixed upon, his will was set. To alter it he must be destroyed” (118).
Will has fixated on Anna as necessary for his existence. The fixation is similar to that of Tom’s on Lydia; both are described as a much needed savior and bringer of unity. However, Will’s fixation on Anna is even stronger than Tom’s on Lydia. Once married, Will imagines his and Anna’s union as utopian:
. . . it was as if the heavens had fallen, and he were sitting with [Anna] among the ruins, in a new world, everybody else buried, themselves two blissful survivors, with everything to squander as they would . . . they were the only inhabitants of the visible earth, the rest were under the flood. And being alone in the world, they were a law unto themselves . . . it was as if they were at the very centre of all the slow wheeling of space and the rapid agitation of life . . . they were at the heart of eternity. (134-135)
In Anna, Will sees not only a means to merge with another person, thus gaining a long sought sense of reality, but also as a means to escape the outside world. With Anna, Will hopes to avoid outside responsibility and simply exist with her and her only: “[he] wanted to be done with the outside world, to declare it finished forever” (140). This, of course, cannot come to pass, not only because such an existence is impossible, but because Anna does not want to live that life. Anna wants to rejoin the world with Will by her side, but Will fails to see this move as an attempt to start their lives together. Instead, “It made him frightened and furious and miserable. He was afraid all would be lost that he had so newly come unto . . . she might have been perfect with him, and kept him perfect . . . Now he must be deposed, his joy must be destroyed, he must put on the vulgar, shallow death of an outward existence” (140). Will sees Anna wanting to rejoin the world as a personal betrayal that deprives him of his opportunity to be “perfect.” To Will, a man who so fears that he is imperfect and unsubstantial, this is the ultimate betrayal. Now, Will begins to hate Anna.
One of the hallmarks of the narcissist, according to Kernberg, is his or her inability to simultaneously love and hate a person. Because “The [person] wants to maximize pleasurable experiences with good objects and to destroy bad objects who provoke unpleasurable experiences” (Freud and Beyond 175), encountering another person who provides both pleasurable and hurtful experiences is confusing. The narcissist needs to divide the world into pleasurable and painful, important and insignificant; not to have a clear cut difference between the two is distressing. This split condition is the hallmark of the borderline personality disorder that Kernberg believes also underlies pathological narcissism. According to Kernberg, “the borderline personality is developmentally able to distinguish between images of self and others, but defensively retreats from the capacity to knit together good and bad affects and object relationships” (Freud and Beyond 175).
For Will in particular, this split condition is the cause of much of his anguish in relation to Anna. Her rejection of his attempts towards unity deeply wounds him, but his need to devote himself to her is so great that even hating her hurts him. Thus Will hates himself for hating Anna because he feels that he has irreparably separated himself from the one person he believes has the power to make him whole. But Will finds that he cannot hate Anna forever, and so when the memory of the injury passes or his need to be close to her becomes too much for him to bear, he swings back to love again. Will seesaws between loving and hating Anna, which only serves to confuse and anger her.
This cycle of loving and hating becomes a pattern for Anna and Will. At first, Anna shrinks away from Will’s temper and laments how the intimacy and peace from their early days has gone. But eventually Anna begins to fight back. She also begins to find her own triggers for hatred towards Will. Particularly, Anna despises Will’s love of the church and other symbols of reverence. For Will, “The church had an irresistible attraction for him . . . the church teaching itself meant nothing to him . . . In church he wanted a dark, nameless emotion, the emotion of all the great mysteries of passion” (Lawrence 147). In the church, Will seeks the same sort of escape and merging that he looks for in Anna. As Howe suggests in D.H. Lawrence and the Art of the Self, “Will wants, quite simply, to return to the womb” (43), and “The cave, house, and woman are patent womb symbols” (43) to which Will has become attached.
On the one hand, Anna is “furious at [Will’s] psychological and emotional dependency on her, which she experiences as suffocating and oppressive” (Schapiro 88), but on the other hand, she “is narcissistically enraged by Will’s failure to recognize her” (84). When Anna and Will visit the cathedral or when he is caught up in a book of religious art, Will ignores Anna’s presence and allows himself to be swept up in the symbols. In these objects, Will finds the absolution that he has been seeking, a unity with something beyond himself. Ben-Ephraim summarizes the nature of this dynamic:
Both the church and Anna’s body allow Will to lose his identity into something exterior. Anna opposes Will’s religious adoration because of its relation to the merging need that plagues their marriage. At the same time, Anna’s antagonism to Will’s belief is her way of being destructive . . . she shows her contradictory possessiveness by trying to deny areas of experience within which he fails to need her. (147)
Anna and Will have differing opinions on the concepts of freedom and the soul. Whereas Anna sees her soul as “intimately mixed up with the thought of her own self” (Lawrence 148), she sees Will’s as “a dark, inhuman thing caring nothing for humanity . . . [that] in the gloom and mystery of the church . . . lived and ran free” (148). Because Anna sees the soul as a part of herself that cannot be parted from her, she is disturbed and even angered by the possibility that Will’s soul can be free of his body and thus of her: “He was very strange to her, and in this Church spirit, in conceiving himself as a soul, he seemed to escape her. In a way, she envied it him, this dark freedom and jubilation of the soul . . . It fascinated her. Again she hated it . . . she despised him, wanted to destroy it in him” (148).
We must not forget that the novel portrays Anna as a narcissistic figure as well. It is easy for her tendencies to be overshadowed by Will’s overtures of pathological and destructive narcissism, but Anna is equally destructive in their relationship. Rather than encourage Will to seek pleasure in things outside of their marriage—especially given that she feels she is being “borne down by him . . . by the clinging, heavy weight of him” (172)—Anna is instead insulted that Will should express interest and devotion to something or someone not herself. As much as Anna worries about Will wanting to “devour her” (172), and as hard as she fights to maintain a self separate from him, she is unable to do so. Anna, bound by her own narcissistic demands, still needs Will to bolster her own fragile self.
Anna realizes that “he was a dark opposite to her, that they were opposites, not complements” (157), and thus sets up Will as a foil to herself. She defines herself as the opposite of Will: strong, dominant, good, victorious, independent. In a sense, Anna, too, is seeing Will in terms of a mirroring transference, but as an opposite to her rather than as an exact duplicate much as a mirror reflection reverses the image. Anna refuses to lapse into reverence of symbols as Will does because Anna defines herself as a woman of reason; symbols carry no meaning for her. So when she does experience moments of fascination with these objects that Will so reveres, she unwittingly begins to align herself with him; he ceases to be her foil, which in turn deeply angers her:
What was he doing? What connection was there between him and the lamb in the glass? Suddenly it gleamed to her dominant, this lamb with the flag. Suddenly she had a powerful mystic experience, the power of the tradition seized on her, she was transported to another world. And she hated it, resisted it . . . And dark, violent hatred of her husband swept up in her. (Lawrence 148-149)
Instead of losing her sense of self in the Other as Tom does in Lydia, Anna destroys Will’s beliefs, thus saving herself from the possibility of being transported to and lost in Will’s world. She also destroys the objects that Will loves because “Anna is so fearful of Will’s absolutism that she denies the possibility of all spiritual experience” (Ben-Ephraim 151). She fears Will “devouring” her, forcing her into merging with him, thus losing her much protected sense of separateness from him and the world.
In destroying Will’s sacred objects, Anna leaves Will only herself and, later, their daughter, Ursula. This only makes Will hold tighter to Anna because she is the only thing that he has left, which in turn makes Anna push him more forcefully away. This cycle constantly repeats. The result is a battle for dominance between two narcissists who are quick to suffer injury from the other’s attempts to absorb the other. As Howe observes, “The struggle between male and female, to overwhelm before one is overwhelmed, is central in the love relationship of Will and Anna” (45). First, Anna refuses to respect or acknowledge Will as an authority figure. “Was she not herself? How could one who was not of her own kind presume with authority?” (Lawrence 154). In the same haughty manner that she had as a child, Anna dismisses Will as someone unimportant, one of the shadow people who exist outside of the “real world.”
Will senses this lack of respect, and at first it galls him. He continues trying to “impose himself on her . . . He must beat her, and make her stay with him” (158), but to no avail. His dark moods and temper have no effect on Anna other than to further anger her, pushing her to be even crueler to him. Eventually, “He ceased to fret about his life. He relaxed his will and let everything go . . . She had conquered” (192). Will “learned to submit to Anna. She forced him to the spirit of her laws, whilst leaving him the letter of his own” (194); “he served his wife and the little matriarchy . . . he gave up trying to have the spiritual superiority and control, or even her respect” (193). Will stops trying; he has been beaten down by Anna and can no longer fight to have dominance over their joint life together.
This defeat prompts Will to try to carve out a separate self from Anna. Will comes into “his own existence . . . But it was a very dumb, weak, helpless self, a crawling nursling . . . He was there for her, all for her” (177). But despite Will’s assertion that this new self is free of need for other people, his actions say otherwise. His later attempts to control, dominate, and humiliate a girl at the theater, as well as his daughter Ursula, show that Will has simply moved on to other prey after finding Anna too difficult to possess. Will is at least partially aware of this lack of progress in his personal growth: “He was aware of some limit to himself, of something unformed in his very being, of some buds which were not ripe in him, some folded centres of darkness which would never develop and unfold whilst he was alive in the body. He was unready for fulfillment. Something undeveloped in him limited him” (195). Will knows at his core that he is not as free and independent as he claims to be; his new self is not only weak, it is, as the narrator states, “unformed.”
Anna, too, is presented with an opportunity to grow beyond her narcissism. As previously discussed, Anna “wanted her own life . . . She wanted her own, old sharp self, detached, detached, active but not absorbed” (186). After the birth of her first child, Anna begins to feel something pulling her away. She imagines a door half open to her, and on the other side lies the rest of the world. She becomes aware that it is “something she had not, something she did not grasp, could not arrive at. There was something beyond her” (181). Anna can step through that door and join the rest of the world. She has the opportunity to begin to care about the people and the world around her. But instead “she could not go, when [the world] called, because she must stay at home now. With satisfaction she relinquished the adventure to the unknown. She was bearing her children” (182). Anna continues to reject the outside world, to refuse to acknowledge that she is a part of it, and instead she focuses solely on her children. The children, however, are only important to her for as long as they physically need her. As Ben-Ephraim explains, “Anna’s ‘victory’ is hollow; settling entirely for the pleasures and responsibilities of the flesh, she gives up the exploration of the world beyond her individual, physical self, and is limited” (150). Thus Anna perpetuates her narcissism by rejecting all that is not herself or directly related to herself.