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Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Anatomy of Desires

“The Anatomy of Desires” by John L’Heureux is a perverse short story describing an experience of a solider who suffered through an extreme incident resulting in the loss of his skin and is now left to sort through his life. I found the story to be disturbing as well as haunting. The story reveals a pathetic side of human life and forces one to question ones own sanity. 

The story begins with Hanley in the hospital corridors with a nurse dressing his wounds. We learn that Hanley had been sleeping in the trenches and so was chosen to be made an example of. Hanley is raped and then cut from his skin by the General. Once Hanley is removed from his skin, he almost becomes reliant on others to fulfill his happiness. He “had a great and natural desire to be possessed by someone” (L’Heureux 339).  It seems as if he relied so much on his superficiality and good looks, that once stripped of his surface, he needs others.

He seeks to find love and possession in ‘the saint’, who begins to pleasure and take care of him. However, what she gives him is never enough. Hanley states, “I am in love and I am loved. Why isn’t this enough” (L’Heureux 341). The Saint responds, “Nothing is ever enough” (L’Heureux 341). Hanley then takes his obsession to be possessed by love to another level. He requests that the nurse cut off her skin so that he may wear it himself. He wants to be inside of her. However, in the end, he learns that “there can be no possession, there is only desire” (L’Heureux, 343). Through selfish love, you will never be truly happy with another. Hanley discovers in an extreme representation how empty love is when attempting to possess someone. Not only does he not find what he is looking for, but ownership of another human being does not exist. What is left is only “empty skin”.

This story possesses so many dimensions that you can study it for hours. It is so multi-dimensional and fascinatingly disturbing that you don’t want to look away. I would rate this story as a five and would recommend it to others to read.  

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