Interview with the Vampire | Study Guide

Anne Rice

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Interview with the Vampire | Part 1, Section 2 | Summary

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Summary

Despite his distaste for Lestat, Louis continues living at Pointe du Lac, believing Lestat has things to teach him about being a vampire. Louis wishes to keep up appearances for his family, although it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain lies about why he cannot see them during daytime. He tries to live a detached life, observing Lestat and other people without emotion, but Lestat's attitude continues to irk him. Lestat particularly enjoys killing young, successful men, and he stalks Freniere, the youthful owner of a nearby sugar plantation, who is the sole provider for a family of five unmarried sisters. When Freniere is forced into a duel he seems bound to lose, Lestat tries to kill him so his life won't be "wasted" in the fight. Louis stops Lestat, yet it is for naught. Freniere wins the duel but the other man pulls a pistol to shoot him while his back is turned. As Louis moves to intervene, Lestat takes the opportunity to kill Freniere himself. Concerned for the Freniere sisters, who will be destitute without their brother, Louis reveals himself to the eldest, Babette, whom he has strong feelings for, knowing she has the fortitude to run the plantation herself. Unnerved by the strange apparition, Babette follows Louis's advice and leads the plantation, which thrives. Louis visits her one other time, advising her to give an enormous charity ball, which will return her to the good social graces of her neighbors. She follows his advice and is again successful.

In 1795 after four years of living comfortably, the slaves at Pointe du Lac are suspicious of Louis and Lestat's supernatural qualities. Louis shadows the slaves at night, overhearing them talk of Louis and Lestat's coffins and blaming the abundance of violent deaths around the plantation on its owners. They want to destroy Louis and Lestat as devils, and though Louis does not worry people will believe the slaves' tales, he decides he and Lestat should move to New Orleans. Lestat doesn't want to give up their luxurious country lifestyle, nor does he want to move his ill father. As his father's death becomes inevitable, Lestat panics, treating his father cruelly and asking Louis to kill him. Tension rises as the slaves hover suspiciously around the house. Louis tells their leader, Daniel, to keep the restless slaves away while the old man dies, but Daniel accidentally sees Lestat's vampire teeth. Not wanting to start a slave riot, Louis stabs Daniel and sends Lestat to monitor the other slaves. When Lestat returns, Louis demands Lestat forgive his father; then he kills Lestat's father to put him out of his misery, and thus escapes the imminent slave uprising.

Running away from the house, Louis and Lestat kill as many slaves as they can. Louis sets the house on fire, against Lestat's wishes. As dawn draws near, the vampires need a place to spend the daylight hours. They take their coffins to Babette's and Louis begs her to shelter them, reminding her of the good advice he has given her over the years. Although fearful, Babette relents and locks the vampires into a wine cellar. The following evening, Lestat thinks they've been tricked, but Babette unlocks the door after everyone is asleep. She feels conflicted, knowing Louis has helped her in the past, but also knowing these men are responsible for the carnage inflicted on Pointe du Lac's slaves. She believes vampires are from the devil. Louis sends Lestat to get their carriage while he tries to explain himself to Babette, who won't listen. She sets Louis on fire with a lit lantern. Lestat bites her, but Louis stops him, and they flee. Louis begs Babette to remember he never hurt her and stopped Lestat from killing her, hoping she believes he is not from the devil.

Analysis

Readers learn a great deal about the paradox of Lestat's character in this section: he cares for his father and buys him expensive things but treats him cruelly when the old man most needs human kindness. Lestat resents a missed educational opportunity when he was a child, but does nothing to improve his mind now that he has ample opportunity to do so. Lestat cares for his father until his death, which suggests a human attachment he claims to have lost many years ago, yet when his father begs for Lestat's forgiveness on his deathbed, Lestat refuses to give it, which causes his father considerable pain. Lestat processes his human childhood anger by seeking out and gleefully killing promising young men like Freniere. Louis explains this predilection by saying, "they stood on the threshold of the maximum possibility of life." Though Lestat has wealth and immortality, he seeks revenge against humans for all he lacked in his mortal life. Lestat may disdain the way Louis clings to his humanity by not feeding on human blood, but Lestat is just as deeply entangled in humanity with his envy and need for vengeance.

For all his self-reflection, Louis remains entangled with the human world. One of the greatest emotions Louis struggles to detach himself from as a vampire is love. He involves himself in the affairs of the Freniere family, trying to protect Freniere, and risking his safety by exposing himself to Babette. Louis tells the interviewer, "I had for Babette ... a strong feeling ... Babette was to me in her own way an ideal human being." At a time when women were reduced to strict gender roles, Babette takes charge and enables her family's plantation to thrive. Whatever strength Babette exhibited to Louis, however, diminishes when she calls him a devil. Louis believed they had a unique relationship of trust, despite his condition. Even though Louis risked everything to help Babette, her narrow-minded reaction to him showcases the impossibility of love in a vampire's world. Nevertheless, the relationship shows readers that Louis retains a capacity for deep compassion, even as an immortal, foreshadowing his potential for future relationships. Babette simultaneously demonstrates Louis is not the monster she claims he is, but also that the question of his inherent nature—is he a child of the devil, as she claims?—will consume his existence. Before Babette accuses Louis of being the devil, he was free to entertain and fancy the idea she believed him to be an angel. Babette's accusation shatters Louis's hope he may be of some good and not entirely evil, but it does not turn him entirely to evil.

The reader continues to see conflicts in Louis's character, particularly in regard to his claim of "detachment." His distaste for Lestat derives in large part from Lestat's lack of gentility, his disinterest in thought and philosophy, and his crass indulgence in luxuries. Lestat bears the marks of the "nouveau riche," reveling in his wealth rather than being discreet about it. Louis pushes Lestat to treat his father with mercy, and does so himself when Lestat won't. Louis simply cannot detach from human emotion despite statements like, "I bore this with an overt detachment unknown to me in mortal life and came to understand this as part of vampire nature." Louis and Lestat represent a double-edged sword: one refuses to examine his nature, the other obsesses about it, yet neither actually understands himself. Bound together in ignorance, and despite their mutual dislike, they cannot separate themselves from each other.
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