Interview with the Vampire | Study Guide

Anne Rice

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Interview with the Vampire | Part 4 | Summary

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Summary

Louis and Armand travel around the world looking at art, but Louis feels little love for his companion. A century later, Armand persuades Louis to return to New Orleans by telling him Lestat did not die in the theater fire. Louis has nearly forgotten Lestat and feels no hatred toward him, so he leads Armand to his former home. While pleasantly surprised to find the city largely unchanged, he feels a profound sadness when visiting the Rue Royale, the street where he shared a house with Claudia and Lestat.

One night Louis follows a young vampire, sure the boy will lead him to Lestat. After several nights, Louis watches as the vampire kills a young mother and carries her baby away. He leads Louis to an old decaying mansion, where a frail Lestat waits inside. The young vampire appears annoyed with Lestat, who had been surviving off animal carcasses. Lestat clearly worries the young vampire will abandon him. When Louis abruptly taps on the window, Lestat weeps with joy, believing Louis has come back permanently. Louis busies himself calming the baby rather than acknowledging Lestat, and he ignores Lestat's pleas for forgiveness. Louis realizes Lestat is dying, incapable of dealing with the modern world. Exhausted, Louis takes the baby and leaves Lestat, despite Lestat's tearful begging that he stay. Louis returns the baby to its home.

A month later Louis tells Armand about his visit with Lestat and how little it affected him. Saddened, Armand realizes his plan to rekindle Louis's passion by returning to New Orleans has failed. In a last-ditch effort to arouse Louis's emotions, Armand admits he himself killed Claudia. Louis already knew this and barely responds. Finally defeated, Armand accepts that his actions have rendered Louis incapable of being the vampire Armand once loved. He walks away, and Louis knows Armand will die. Filled with sorrow, Louis leaves New Orleans.

Appalled by the story's end, the interviewer refuses to accept this as the outcome. He begs Louis to turn him into a vampire, saying he might embrace eternity better than Louis has. Shocked, Louis realizes he has failed in what he was trying to achieve by telling his tale. With the tape still running, Louis tries to make a point by biting the boy and feeding until the boy barely clings to life. When the boy awakes from unconsciousness, he rewinds the tape until he hears Lestat's address in New Orleans. Immediately, he sets off for Louisiana.

Analysis

For all the evil he has committed, Louis believes he has one last shot at redemption by telling his story as a cautionary tale. He wants others to learn from his mistakes and avoid passivity. He also wants to show immortality holds as much sadness and loss—perhaps even more—than mortality. However, the story only makes the interviewer crave immortality more. He longs to be a vampire despite Louis's message. Everything—God, Satan, humanity, love, and wisdom—have failed Louis. He cannot be redeemed. Despite hundreds of years of searching, Louis's questions about his origins, morality, and redemption reach the same conclusion: there is no meaning.

Although the novel's ending remains open, many story lines come to a close. Louis says goodbye to both Armand and Lestat, in the same detached, unemotional way. Given the pain both vampires caused him, Louis held no hope of love or forgiveness. Those human emotions vanished with Claudia's death. He becomes soulless, simply existing. Killing Claudia killed both Armand's and Lestat's chances at happiness as well. Both "creator" vampires have spent the novel urging Louis to embrace his vampire essence, but when he does, they are stunned by the heartbreak it causes both of them. They create their own punishment by destroying Claudia, just as Louis created his punishment through passivity. Interestingly, both vampires experience a role reversal when Louis detaches. Armand becomes questioning and thoughtful, although he gives up his hunger for human emotions far sooner than Louis, after only 100 years. Lestat, who never spent a moment considering the past, becomes nostalgic as he nears death. Everything about the modern era—the loud noises and glittering technology—terrify him. As Armand suggested, Lestat will die because the world is too different from his original world. Like Armand, without Louis to ground him, Lestat has no hope.

The interviewer feels confident he could use immortality more positively than Louis, despite Louis's wisdom with age. In this way Interview with the Vampire demonstrates life's cyclical nature, even in immortality. People are destined to make the same mistakes, feel the same sorrows and joys, and reach the end of life unsatisfied. Yet some lingering question continues to pull Louis through the centuries, searching. Rice counts on the same lingering question pulling readers through to the next novel in the series. Although Louis insists his humanity has evaporated, he still clings to a sliver of morality. He desperately wants others—humans—to learn from his mistakes, which suggests his soul hasn't died. Had he truly given over to darkness, the interview never would have occurred. Had he met the boy in a different mood, under different circumstances, Louis would have killed him without a second thought. He wouldn't care about redemption, warnings, or the future, especially not the future of lesser beings. He also doesn't kill the interviewer, suggesting he still abides by his moral code of letting those he knows live. This offers hope for Louis's ultimate redemption, and suggests his search for meaning in immortality hasn't ended.

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