Interview with the Vampire | Study Guide

Anne Rice

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Interview with the Vampire | Part 1, Section 4 | Summary

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Summary

Both Louis and Lestat educate Claudia: Louis teaches her literature and philosophy, worrying about her mental and emotional well-being. Lestat teaches her to relish the hunt, playing with her victims before killing them. Lestat revels in dressing Claudia up like a doll. Louis hunts humans as well now, though only strangers and always quickly, with a detachment arising from the need for fulfillment only human blood can evoke. They live in a secure and luxurious Spanish townhouse, with free black servants who return home during daylight hours rather than hovering suspiciously like the plantation slaves did.

Time passes. Sixty-five years after being created, Claudia begins to wonder where she came from and how she differs from humans. She wants to know why she remains trapped in a child's body but has the wisdom and experience of an adult. Obsessed with poor women and children, she kills a mother and her daughter—two maids who work for the vampires—threatening to destroy the vampires' anonymous security and forcing Lestat to kill the rest of the maids' family in order to avoid suspicion.

Like Louis, Claudia begins to find Lestat tiresome. She demands he tell her which of them turned her into a vampire. Lestat hates her questions and refuses to tell her how vampires are made. Claudia turns to books, reading all the vampire mythology she can find, both true and false. Louis begs her to stop asking questions, claiming there are no answers for why they are the way they are. Lestat hints to Claudia that Louis helped create her, and Louis fears by telling her the truth he will lose her. He loves her in a complicated way, and he needs her companionship.

Distressed by Claudia's torment, Louis takes her to the part of New Orleans where he first found her, and shows her the room where she cried over her mother's dead body. He admits his part in her creation, feeding from her before Lestat transformed her. Claudia is made livid by Louis's admission, but she soon realizes she has nowhere else to go. She finally understands Louis loved her, both in life and now, because of his connection to his human nature. Claudia lacks human instincts, having died too young to remember what humanity felt like. She understands Lestat made her into a vampire to keep Louis company. She decides she wants to leave Lestat forever.

Louis had long ago stopped believing he could extricate himself from Lestat, but Claudia feels confident. Louis arranges for them to travel to Europe, signing over property to Lestat, so he will have money to continue living luxuriously. Claudia continues to needle Lestat about his past, wondering what vampire turned him, and disgusted that he remains content to live in ignorance. Claudia feels sure she and Louis will find other vampires in Europe and gain the knowledge they crave.

Claudia asks Louis to hunt with her, and he acquiesces. She believes Lestat killed his own maker and then created Louis out of fear of being alone. She reveals her plan to kill Lestat and orders Louis not to interfere. Shocked, Louis begs her not to fight the strong and unpredictable Lestat, fearing reprisal if she fails, but Claudia ignores him. She leaves Louis to hunt and in his frenzy of emotion, he nearly kills a young, healthy boy who stumbles into his path.

Analysis

Once again, this section presents the philosophical polarity between Louis and Lestat. Louis prefers to read, think, and understand; he exists more in his mind than in the world. Lestat prefers to act, reveling in the pleasures his body can afford. Claudia, raised by them both, becomes a perfect amalgam of her "fathers." Curious and thoughtful, she also enjoys hunting, having no sense of moral quandary over torturing humans as Louis does. Having been human for so little time, she senses her lack of humanity but cannot feel it. She knows something about her personality is missing, but because she cannot identify it, cannot truly miss it. Nevertheless, in her few short years as a human, she did experience love—Louis first saw her crying over the body of her dead mother, which allows her to love as a vampire. As Claudia ages the love relationship between her and Louis becomes complicated. The innocent father-daughter relationship develops into something resembling a romantic relationship, although not sexual. The fluidity of their love, and the idea of a grown man having romantic feelings for a "child" might confuse readers and leave them feeling uncomfortable. This unique relationship challenges readers to expand their notions of love and how people need one another.

Louis's moral code continues to expand as he finds it impossible to sustain himself on animal blood. He begins to kill humans because he needs the fulfillment only human blood brings. Away from the plantation, where he knew everyone's name and history, Louis finds killing easier, especially because so many people drop dead daily from the plague. Louis can be emotionally detached because he doesn't even have to know his victim's names. It is important to note that the 65 years Louis, Lestat, and Claudia live together as a family is the only time Louis unquestioningly embraces his vampire nature and lives in peace. It isn't until Claudia begins questioning her nature, as Louis did in earlier sections, that his moral conflict once again surfaces. Like Louis, Claudia longs to understand the frailty of human life, even visiting funeral homes to explore the sorrow of grieving humans. Tormented by her difference, she questions, "What are we? Why are we not like [humans]?" Her questions enrage Lestat, who treats her like a perpetual child, and frighten Louis, who knows he has no answers.

Symbols of death's presence, and the moral conflict it brings, pervades this section. Claudia's preoccupation with human grief results in her obsessing over coffins. The plague runs rampant in New Orleans, killing as indiscriminately as the vampires. Claudia frequently carries bouquets of chrysanthemums, a flower historically associated with death. Lestat believes vampires should only wear black, the color of death. Finally, in their hotel suite, there rests on the mantle of the fireplace a skull, which Louis stares at for long periods. As with Hamlet, this external object symbolizes his internal contemplation of mortal life. While Louis continues to struggle with the duality of his human/vampire essence, he also worries Claudia is losing what little humanity she had as she gleefully recounts her plan to murder Lestat.

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