What was I after all? Near enough what Conchis had had me told: nothing but the net sum of countless wrong turnings. I dismissed most of the Freudian jargon of the trial; but all my life I had tried to turn life to fiction, to hold reality away; always I had acted as if a third person was watching and listening and giving me marks for good or bad behaviour – a god like a novelist, to whom I turned, like a character with the power to please, the sensitivity to feel slighted, the ability to adapt himself to whatever he believed the novelist-god wanted. This leechlike variation of the super-ego I had created myself, fostered myself, and because of it I had always been incapable of acting freely. It was not my defence; but my despot. And now I saw it, I saw it a death too late.
I knew that on the island one was driven back into the past. There was so much space, so much silence, so few meetings that one too easily saw out of the present, and then the past seemed ten times closer than it was. It was likely that Alison hadn’t given me a thought for weeks, and that she had had half a dozen more affaires. So I posted the letter rather as one throws a message in a bottle into the sea; not quite as a joke, perhaps, but almost.
Like all men not really up to their job, he was a stickler for externals and petty quotidian things; and in lieu of an intellect he had accumulated an armoury of capitalized key-words like Discipline and Tradition and Responsibility. If I ever dared – I seldom did – to argue with him, he would produce one of these totem words and cosh me with it, as no doubt in similar circumstances he quelled his subalterns. If one still refused to lie down and die, he lost, or loosed, his temper. His temper was like a red dog, and he always had it close to hand.