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Sweet Caress
William Boyd's Sweet Caress captures an entire lifetime unforgettably...
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How important are names in Sweet Caress?

Created: 05/30/16

Replies: 9

Posted May. 30, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1358

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How important are names in Sweet Caress?

How important are names in Sweet Caress: particularly for Amory, Peggy/Dido and Xan?


Posted Jun. 08, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
reene

Join Date: 02/18/15

Posts: 250

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RE: How important are names in Sweet Caress?

The names take on great importance in this novel. The characters become androgynous through their names. We have Amory, whose father announced the birth of a son, rather than a daughter. His own name being Beverley, rather feminine. The sister Margaret is never called by her name and later changes it to Dido, neither a male or female name. The brother Alexander is called Xan and often Marjorie.
Amory herself tells us names are important, they become your label, how you see yourself. Your classification. Cleve - Cleveland?
The names are interesting in the fact that the author chose to write the story in the first person voice of a female and used the genre of memoir. Often the characters seem to slide back and forth between male and female in their character traits.


Posted Jun. 08, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
melanieb

Join Date: 08/30/14

Posts: 86

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RE: How important are names in Sweet Caress?

I didn't notice that the names themselves were important. I noticed that Amory spent time explaining how her parents and siblings' names came about and how she was given a non-traditional name for a girl. I thought that the description for the family names was more about providing background to support how and why she was different as a child and into adulthood.


Posted Jun. 09, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
KateB

Join Date: 02/11/16

Posts: 56

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RE: How important are names in Sweet Caress?

I thought the names were significant although I'm not sure why.

Amory makes me think of amoral and also amorous. At different points I felt that added meaning. I'd agree with Renee that giving her a name that isn't gender specific was intentional on Boyd's part.

Dido is famous as the Queen of Carthage and she committed suicide. I'm not clear on what that means for the story and would love to hear anyone's theory on that!

And Xan seems an odd contraction for Alexander to me. Why not Alex? And why Marjorie. He is a elusive figure in many ways for me, although his story in the war was one of my favourite parts.


Posted Jun. 09, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
reene

Join Date: 02/18/15

Posts: 250

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RE: How important are names in Sweet Caress?

Thinking further about names, when Amory describes her father's funeral, she states that the speaker refers to her father as "Brotherton" not Beverley. The name irritated and upset the mother. I am sure the names are of importance to the full understanding of the characters and the story.


Posted Jun. 15, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
gwenc

Join Date: 07/14/12

Posts: 25

RE: How important are names in Sweet Caress?

Reene, I think you've said it all. I scribbled "names are an important theme," early on in the margin of my book. I really do think names - actual names or names you choose to use for yourself - have serious consequences in your life.


Posted Jun. 17, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
marilynj

Join Date: 08/07/11

Posts: 28

RE: How important are names in Sweet Caress?

Names are important in all of our lives; they define us and often predict what will happen to us and what we will do in our lives. In this story particularly Amory's name, chosen by her father because he wanted a boy, defined her life. I thought it was interesting that the author chose to tell the story through a female character but the character seemed to be androgynous. I was surprised when Charbonneau described Amory as being very thin but with generous breasts. I expected he would say that her breasts were small and boyish. Amory seemed more masculine to me than feminine, most of the time. Even her choice of drinks seemed more masculine.


Posted Jun. 24, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
paml

Join Date: 10/25/12

Posts: 74

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RE: How important are names in Sweet Caress?

Most important was Amory. People who did not know her expected a man. I believe Amory was the kind of woman she was in part due to her name. Professionally she had opportunities because others thought she was a man based on her name only.


Posted Jul. 04, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
poniesnpearls

Join Date: 06/28/11

Posts: 30

RE: How important are names in Sweet Caress?

I think names were used to help drive ideas in the story about how people are perceived, even before they are met. I have a 10-letter first name of Scandinavian origins. All my life, people have struggled to pronounce it, although if they look at it phonetically, it's pretty simple. I can relate to the name game because of my experience. :::-)::


Posted Jul. 05, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
AubLibDir

Join Date: 03/04/15

Posts: 7

RE: How important are names in Sweet Caress?

The choice of characters' names certainly was interesting....Amory, Dido, Sholto, etc. However, I think the only one of significance was Amory's. It was what defined her from beginning to end. Her father's naming her that really formed her character.


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