Interview with the Vampire | Study Guide

Anne Rice

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Interview with the Vampire | Part 2 | Summary

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Summary

Louis and Claudia spend their first night onboard the ship watching for signs of Lestat and the musician, but the ship leaves New Orleans without incident. Claudia feels certain Lestat died in the fire, while Louis feels equally certain he is still alive. Claudia theorizes how Lestat revived himself after the poisoning, deciding he must have kept himself alive on small animals long enough to limp to the musician, whom he transformed so as not to be alone. Louis wonders whether it's possible to kill vampires at all. His thoughts return to God, Satan, and the nature of his own existence. Tired of his own ignorance, Louis steeps in bitter resentment of the beautiful human world he will never experience, such as the blue waters of the Mediterranean, which appear to him only as black because he must view them at night. Both Claudia and Louis hope for answers in Europe, but have varying degrees of hope as to how useful those answers will be.

Upon disembarking from the ship at Varna, Bulgaria, Claudia arranges a luxurious carriage to travel through Bulgaria. Almost immediately, they hear whisperings of vampires. They arrive at a dirty, boarded-up inn filled with tense villagers. The rooms are strung with garlic and crucifixes. No one acknowledges them except for a drunk, distraught Englishman, Morgan, who latches on to Louis as an English speaker. Against the innkeeper's protests, Morgan leads Louis into the parlor where his wife's corpse is laid out on the table. Morgan explains that he and his wife were backpacking across the country, seeking landscapes to paint. They noticed a strange ritual in a cemetery outside of the village: the townspeople dug up the grave of a woman who had died six months previously, but her corpse looked young and healthy. The villagers drove a stake through the woman's heart and cut off her head with a shovel. That night, a vampire lured Morgan's wife, Emily, out of the inn; her body was found the next morning. The villagers want to destroy Emily's body as they had the corpse, worrying she too will become a vampire.

Louis wants to intervene and allow Morgan to bury Emily properly, but Claudia stops him. The innkeeper tells Louis the vampire lives at the nearby monastery ruins, and Louis, pretending he wants to avoid danger, gets directions. Despite the innkeeper's protests, Louis and Claudia set off immediately. Louis feels anxious, but Claudia leads him steadily onward, determined to find answers. They discover an inhuman vampire, stinking of death and wearing rags, carrying a fresh body. The creature attacks Louis, but Claudia easily shatters its decrepit skull with a rock, killing it. Needing to feed, they move to the vampire's still breathing victim. Horrified, Louis identifies the man as Morgan. Claudia feeds freely, but Louis refuses to kill him. As dawn approaches, they return to the village and Louis declares the vampire dead.

They travel across Bulgaria, Transylvania, and Hungary, only to encounter "mindless corpses" like the vampire in Varna. Claudia believes European vampires are zombie-like because they are buried and only rouse when powerfully thirsty. Their desperation to feed overrides any other thought or sense. Both Louis and Claudia miss Lestat, feeling terribly alone in the world. Claudia toys with the idea of creating a family by making new vampires, but Louis begs her to not to. They decide to skip Vienna and travel directly to Paris.

Analysis

The trip to Europe provides far fewer answers to Louis and Claudia's questions than they hoped for. Although they go about their search differently, both vampires desire to understand their origins. Louis's questions stem from his painful divide of morality. Is he the son of God or the son of Satan? If he could uncover whether God exists, he could finally answer the question of whether it's possible to live a moral life as an essentially evil creature. Although he claimed God doesn't exist in the previous section, he no longer feels as adamantly. He desires to intervene so Morgan can properly bury his wife, and later, his morality prevents him from killing Morgan, whom he knows. Louis still lives in fear—of Lestat, of God, and of Satan. As his maker, Lestat represents knowledge to Louis, even though Lestat has never been forthcoming. The answers to vampire origin seem as elusive as God himself.

Louis continues to explore his complicated morality as he refuses to feed on Morgan. Louis knows Morgan's face and story, causing him to develop an attachment totally foreign to Claudia and Lestat, who delight in getting to know and torturing their victims before feeding. This sense of morality also includes his refusal to create new vampires. No matter how many people he kills, he cannot bring himself to create another murderer. Doing so would make him responsible not only for the deaths he causes, but the deaths his progeny cause as well. Refusing to create more vampires, however, suggests extreme self-loathing. He hates what he is so deeply, he could never multiply.

In the face of this inner conflict, Louis feels nothing but fear: fear of discovering the truth of their nature, and fear of never knowing; fear Lestat is dead and fear he's still alive. He simultaneously fears God's wrath and worries that God doesn't exist. While Louis feels anxious and uncertain, Claudia balances their duo with courage and certainty. Consider how she drags Louis through the woods toward the village vampire. Likewise, she feels certain Lestat has died. Though her confidence reassures Louis, her certainty foreshadows her error.

Finally, this section nods to the traditional vampire trope in the characterization of the Varna village vampire. Rice is famous for rewriting the vampire genre, creating complex characters with emotional struggles, whereas traditional vampires, like the one in the village, exist solely to feed and frighten. These vampires are mindless, soulless creatures whose sole purpose is to frighten audiences. Rice elevates the genre by frightening readers and also asking them to think.
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