The Sheltering Sky Does Not Shelter My Eye From Crying
"Death is always on the way, but the fact that you don't know when it will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It's that terrible precision that we hate so much. But because we don't know, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless." In addressing the “finiteness of life” and the meaning of death, this quote supports the nihilistic themes of The Sheltering Sky. Bowles shows us through the three main characters of the story (Tunner, Port, and Kit) the futility of travel. Port’s nihilistic tendencies help to focus the attention of the story on human nature and suffering, which recalls the nihilistic ideas expressed in the writings of Albert Camus. His works such as The Stranger explore ideas such as nihilism (and absurdism, of course) and covers many topics related to Port’s character and the main ideas of The Sheltering Sky. Port is somewhat annoying, and I found that I had a general dislike for him. In the beginning of the story, it is quite apparent that Kit and Port are suffering from a failing marriage and it seems as though their trip is meant to bring them closer together. But Port seems to completely neglect Kit, leaving her to feel abandoned and dependent on Tunner (despite her general dislike for him). Even as Port and Kit try to work things out between themselves, their surroundings in the desert of northern Africa seem to further tear them apart. Much as in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, the setting of The Sheltering Sky plays an important role as a parallel to the nature of the relationships between the main characters. The unfriendly landscape and the hot sun seem to directly affect the interactions between Port, Kit, and Tunner, as it seems that the disagreeable environment is what creates the misunderstandings that distance the characters from each other. And the desert continues, much like the Congo River, into the darkness, ultimately leading them to a gloomy fate.