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The Order of Things

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The Order of Things

Love is one of the most important feelings and experiences in a person’s life. The declaration of eternal love to another person is often forged in a church, the holy matrimony. As important as love is, it is also very difficult to control. In the short story The Order of Things by Judy Troy from 2007 the main character reverend Carl shows how difficult it can be to control these feelings towards another woman despite his marriage.

Carl is a reverend in his late 40s. Carl has a wife whom he has been married to for a while. Together they have a daughter who is in the late teenage years. This seems like the perfect family, but even if this is the perfect nuclear family on the outside, the family father, Carl has an affair with another married woman, Lily Forrest. “Never take chances, Carl’s father used to tell him.” (p. 8, l. 54-55) He learned that he should never take chances and believed that until Lily changed his perspective. Carl begins to have feelings for Lily and the feelings are so strong, that he says, that he has never felt like this toward another woman. Not even his own wife. “He had always been self-conscious, and wanted to offer excuses … But he forgot those when she undid his belt and put her hand on his zipper.” (p. 8, 37-40) Carl has always been shy, but Lily has a smoothing effect on him, which makes him forget his shyness. Carl and Lily develop a relationship outside of their family life, and they even planed on getting married when Carl's daughter has finished High School. Carl is absent minded towards his family and feels that his family is like hearing a play. He knows that they are there in the house, and he hears them come and go, but he does not feel a connection towards them. He thinks that he married his wife to soon, because they did not know that much about each other. At church service he tries to be neutral towards Lily, but when he fails doing that, he feels that people notice him and that he speaks differently to her. “Either he failed, and imagined people noticing; or he succeeded, which felt like a crime he was committing against himself” (p. 9, l. 85-87) In this sentence you can see, that he is torn between duty and his feelings, but he finds the idea; feelings came first and thought after, best despite what his father’s opinion.

Carl and Lily's relationship was just as love when you are a teenager or newly weds. He was aroused for weeks after having sex with Lily. He should just imagine her body, which would give him an erection. The intimacy was not only physical it was also in the silence. He felt that he was happy and safe in Lily’s company. Lily and Carl had a fantasy that as long as they were together all else would not matter. Lily takes the initiative and teaches Carl to see everything in a new perspective. Lily gets Carl to notice the nature and it’s beauty. “Perhaps through her, …, he could love the world.” (p. 9, l. 106-107) Carl is chancing with Lily and their relationship. He starts to notice the smaller things in life. Carl has lived with a patriarch views on how the world is, and he has always believed in his father's words. Lily teaches him to think in a different way, which is a sign, that Lily pushes Carl to be an independent person.

Everybody knows everybody in their city, which also is why so many come to Lily’s funeral. They live in a mountainous and beautiful environment, that Carl first discovers when he has met Lily. Carl and Lily’s affair is in the beginning only in a hotel room in another city where people does not now them, but slowly the affair continues in Carl’s church. Carl is against the idea at first, but when they initiate their love escapes in the church it felt naturally for him.

The weather is one of the symbolic appearances in this short story. It is sunny when Carl and Lily speak to each other for the first time and the first time the visit a hotel together. “In the August wind, with the afternoon sun …” (p. 7, l. 9.) But slowly the weather changes and it gets colder and harsher as their relationship progress. Which could be a sign or warning that their relationship would end tragically. The short story does however end with the sun shining once again, which could mean, that there are hope for Carl ahead. As the weather the seasons of the year does also hold a symbolic meaning. As the earlier quotation shows, Carl and Lily’s relationship begun in August and ended in February which mean that their love affair was going on when the weather was changing because of the season. It can be interpreted as the circumstances and surroundings objection of their relationship. Despite the harshness Carl and Lily had a happy time together.



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