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Justin wrote:

> I have a few questions about your recent post:

>> (Steve) As he contemplates the mythical
>> mermaids who heterosexual men found irresistible,
>> he knows that it is not the sirens that hold
>> such power over him:
>>
>>   I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
>>   I do not think that they will sing to me.

> (Justin) When I read the finish this way,
> all the pain I have always heard in these
> lines is lost, and it's supplanted by
> a sly wink and a nudge.  Am I misunderstanding you?
> Is Prufrock gay but wishes he wasn't and
> therefore still laments that the mermaids wouldn't
> waste their wiles on him?

He's scared that God will damn him to hell for choosing a homosexual life
("And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,/And in
short, I was afraid."). Prufrock knows that gays are attacked in society, not
accepted -- they are "the lonely men". And, by giving in to those desires
that he fears are inherent in his nature, he's condemned to be a part of that
loneliness and eternal damnation. I read the lines as sad.

> why all the attention he gives to all the women?
> Why the spent ink on their hair, their singing,
. . .
> Why the specific attention to the women earlier,
> their perfumes / dresses / lightly downed arms?

He's imagining a heterosexual lifestyle -- trying it on for size. Then he's
imagining, AFTER years of living that lie, how it will feel when his wife
says living that lie is not the life she ever wanted for herself:

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
. . .
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along
the floor--
. . .
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
"That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all."

> I noticed you seemed to read the arms as evidence
> of masculenity.  Did I understand you correctly?

No, I never said that about Prufrock. The arms in Prufrock are feminine. I
think you are mixing this up with the line "your arms full" from the TWL
hyacinth scene. Someone else suggested that these might be "masculine arms",
that is, "full" because of being muscular.

-- Steve --