IND AFF: Setting
There is a saying that people should think twice before they act. This saying well-adapts to the story of Fay Weldon IND AFF or Out of Love in Sarajevo. The story is told by its main character, where she is telling the audience about her trip with her “lover”, Professor Peter, and telling the incident that caused World War I. Both the character and the History Professor are in their trip around Europe (currently in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia), at the exact place where Princip assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife. Weldon decided to place the characters in this setting in order to find similarities in the decision both Princip and narrator chose at the end of the story.
The narrator opens up the story by talking about weather, “The rain filled up Sarajevo’s pride” (201), which refers to the two outcomes that were about to take place. In this story, rain symbolizes three major factors war, death, and love. First, the outbreak of the war. Due to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, World War I began. Second, the death of the Archduchess and the millions of people who died during the war. And lastly, love. The two main characters seem to be in love but at the end, it was just a bad decision just like the one Princip decided to take. Rain indicates that there are problems that must be solved. It is not only raining in Sarajevo but also “it was raining on [Peter’s] wife, too, back in Cambridge” (202). This demonstrates that their wrong actions are damaging those around them. It is important to be aware of these signs because just like the narrator mentions, it “filled up Sarajevo’s pride”. In other words, the assassination of the Archduchess caused this place to be an immense tourist place, where the narrator, thanks to this event, happens to make a decision that will most likely change her life for the better.
The narrator constantly keeps bringing up the cause of World War I. According to her, “He [Peter] liked to be asked questions” (205), but behind her curiosity to analyze more this incident, Weldon wanted the audience to learn a bit more about this historical event but also to see how the decision of Princip to assassinate relates to the narrator’s decision to maintain a relationship with a married man. As the couple sits at a restaurant in Sarajevo, the narrator converse with her lover about World War I. While she continues to analyze Princip’s story, she realizes that her life is not so different to his. The narrator comments on Princip’s age, “Princip was nineteen – too young” (204); she does not only mention his age as part of the story but to reflect on the age difference between her and her partner. She figures that she is also too young to be expending her life with someone who is “forty-six” (203) while she is “twenty-five” (203). The narrator continues to feel pity for Princip, not realizing that she was feeling pity for her self as well. She comments on how Princip died for the “love of a country” (204) which once again relates to her life. She is dying for the love of an old professor-married man.
As their conversation continues in the restaurant about the Archduke’s assassination, the narrator continues to realize that her relationship was a mistake. From the beginning of the story, the narrator emphasizes the term “wife” in various occasions. On page 201, the narrator introduces the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and then in parenthesis highlights “(Don’t forget his wife; everyone forgets his wife…)”. Later on in the text, when she decides to leaves the professor, she states that his head smelt like chlorine and “may have come from thinking about his wife so much” (206). This demonstrates that through out their “holiday” trip, both have not forgotten about the wife. The narrator uses Franz’s wife as a method to cover the guilt she feels for doing such thing to Peter’s wife and Peter, deep inside, is constantly thinking of his “twenty-four years” (202) of marriage.
The narrator wanted to demonstrate how a quick decision can change one’s life forever. The narrator “was finally aware how much [she has] lied” (206) when she said “I love you” to Professor Peter. Due to their trip in Sarajevo and its past history with Princip, it helped her realize that she had made a mistake, a mistake that she regrets. The narrator states that she is “grateful to this day” (206) with the city of Sarajevo because it taught her a lesson. She continues to relate her “silly sad episode” (206) with Princip’s silly and sad decision. She feels sympathy towards Princip because at such of young age, he ruined his life, similar to her. Their only difference was that she thought twice before she continue with this false romance that was not going to take her anywhere in life.
Weldon use of setting made this story meaningful. Sarajevo’s sad history changed the characters life for the better. Weldon wanted the audience to see that a quick decision is not the best choice to take; it is better to think twice and perhaps the second choice would have a better ending. The narrator also highlights this at the end of the story, “…If he’d just hung on a bit, there in Sarajevo, that June day, he might have come to his senses. People do, sometimes quite quickly” (207). She refers to herself and how she took her time to think about it, to relate her story to young Princip, and at the end, took the best decision for herself.