Interview with the Vampire | Study Guide

Anne Rice

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Interview with the Vampire | Part 3, Section 2 | Summary



Back at the hotel Claudia admits she does not like the other vampires and fears they want to kill her. She fears for her life, both because she killed Lestat and because she senses Armand telepathically compelling her to die. Armand wants Louis's love for himself. Louis tries to deny it, but he feels fascinated by Armand and senses in him the culmination of everything he has been seeking: knowledge and power. He refuses to believe Armand harbors sinister intentions toward Claudia. Torn between his devotion to Claudia and his excitement about Armand, Louis refuses to believe Armand poses a threat.

Louis returns to the theater the next night to visit Armand. While he still won't admit his origin, Louis questions how much danger they would be in had they truly killed their maker, as Santiago suggested. Armand warns Louis that Santiago has determined to discover where Louis and Claudia came from, and what happened to their maker. He claims Santiago to be an incredibly powerful vampire, whom he has no power to stop, primarily because Armand shirks the responsibilities of coven leader. The "family" of fifteen vampires fears weakness, which they sense in Louis's sympathy for humans. Additionally, Louis insulted Santiago's ego during their fight and now he wants to destroy Louis. Conflicted, Louis longs to join Armand but feels helplessly tied to Claudia. As Louis leaves, Armand gives him the key to a side entrance so he can come and go without being noticed. Armand urges Louis to tap into his own power, to protect himself by projecting a sense of foreboding, warning other vampires away.

Louis roams the city, finding a drunken artist who begs to paint Louis. Louis accompanies the man to his studio where the artist sketches him. Louis finally gives in to his need to feed and bites the artist. Louis takes the painting, but the artist revives long enough to fight him for it. Louis finds the lifelike drawing disturbing, but he wants it, and he kills the artist in order to keep it.

Back at the hotel Louis meditates on the sketch. Claudia comes home with a woman, Madeleine, whom she reveals to be the maker of her porcelain dolls. Claudia has already bitten Madeleine, and Madeleine now offers herself to Louis. Claudia begs Louis to turn Madeleine into a vampire since Claudia herself is too small to do it. Louis refuses and Claudia rages at him, telling him how much she hates him for trapping her in the "life" of a child. She demands he redeem himself by giving Madeleine to her. Louis still refuses, afraid of the consequences of creating a vampire. Claudia begs, believing Armand will only let her live if she finds another companion.

Louis cannot leave Claudia in pain. Madeleine reveals she lost her own daughter, whom she has tried to recreate in hundreds of dolls. Louis hungers for Madeleine's beating heart, and finally bites her, allowing her to drink his blood after he has fed. Like Louis, Madeleine finds the world dazzling after she drinks. As her human body dies, Louis teaches Madeleine vampire ways. He tells Claudia they are now even; by killing Madeleine he has destroyed his own humanity, just as he took Claudia's.


This section provides a major turning point for Louis's character. With the metaphysical loss of God and Satan, Louis does the only thing he thinks he can do to redeem himself: destroying the last vestiges of his humanity just as he destroyed Claudia's, by turning Madeleine into a vampire. He breaks his own twisted moral code by perpetuating the destruction of untold masses at Madeleine's hands. However, he must admit to himself that he did not do it for Claudia alone, but also for himself. In order to have Armand he must free himself from Claudia. He destroys his mortal capacity to love in order to experience a deeper love with Armand. Interestingly, Louis continues searching for someone else to take responsibility. He gives Claudia a new companion to placate Armand. He wants Armand to be the new "god" in his life: "What would Christ need have done to make me follow him like Matthew or Peter?" Louis makes his choice to turn Madeleine to give himself the luxury of spending eternity passively following Armand. Louis claims he wants "to be mortal and trivial and safe," but by aligning himself with someone as powerful as Armand, he opens himself up to the destruction of everything important to him.

Throughout the novel, Louis searches for identity. After becoming a vampire, he laments, "I am to live to the end of the world, and I do not even know what I am!" He travels the globe searching for answers, but after Armand declares there is no God, and therefore no Satan, no sin, and no redemption, Louis must create his own identity. What the painter captures provides Louis the first insight into how other people see him, and the image shocks him: "the horror, the horror of seeing my expression!" The image particularly shocks Louis because moments before, he felt alive again: "'I am mortal again,' I whispered to him," but the sketch serves as a reminder that Louis will never be mortal again; he truly is the monster Babette claimed him to be. Enraged, Louis kills the artist and wrestles the sketch away from him, and spends the next hours contemplating the image. Accepting himself to be the monster in the sketch, Louis embraces his vampire nature and creates a progeny in Madeleine.

This section also provides insight into the female characters, Madeleine and Claudia. Mad with grief over her lost daughter, Madeleine feels like less of a woman because she cannot be called a mother, which echoes Rice's personal thoughts after the death of her own daughter. Madeleine falls victim to two stereotypes of female power—motherhood and sexuality. When she loses her daughter, she turns her strength and identification to sexuality, such as when she tries to entice Louis: "If I could show you my power ... I could make you want me, desire me!" Madeleine's view supports Claudia's perception of herself as being powerless because she has a child's body and no sexuality. Although Claudia is immortal, she will never experience either fulfillment of female "power"—motherhood and sex. For her part, Claudia begs Louis to kill her because, "I am something frail you can crush like a flower."

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