‘Do you see what I am! Why, if God exists, does He suffer me to exist!’ I said to him. ‘ You talk of sacrilege!’ He dug his nails into my hands, trying to free himself, his missal dropping to the floor, his rosary clattering in animated statues of the saints. I drew my lips back and showed him my virulent teeth. ‘Why does He suffer me to life?’ I said. His face infuriated me, his fear, his contempt, his rage. I saw in it all the hatred I’d seen in Babette, and he hissed at me, “Le me go! Devil!’ in sheer mortal panic.’ pg147
The above excerpt highlights a theme throughout the Ann Rice’s novel “Interview with the Vampire.” It shows the deep struggle of what it means to be alive versus to be dead. How independent animation does not equal life. It also shows the naivety of religion with regards to the state of the human condition.
The priest minimizes the troubles of Louis. He is supposed to be a man of spiritual prowess, as the label priest gives him that authority. And yet, he cannot even see that Louis is not a human that can be saved, as he believes, by repentance and adherence to biblical virtues. How despite its claims, the bible, and his biblical training, have not equipped him to understand the world beyond the normal. Rice makes his lack of understanding clear when Louis dominates him with ease. He grabs the priest in a ‘preternatural lock.’ It is in that moment, that moment of closeness, of being held in a grip stronger than that of life, that the priest realizes his mistake. That he should have fled in fear of what is beyond his understanding.
In this way, we make monsters out of failing to understand the suffering of others. It’s the chicken and the egg conundrum. Does Louis suffer because he is a Vampire? But he became a Vampire because he was suffering. Being a vampire simply gives him a reason for his suffering. It does not make his suffering anymore real than it was before. It just gives it a flavor that he can justify as his own. His own suffering. Not even the priest understands so he must be special. This theme, of being alone in suffering, comes up later when it becomes clear that in the same way that the Vampire lives a solitary life, so does the cry of the modern generation as each cries out in their loneliness and suffering that is both complete isolation and the same at the same time.
It reflects on an even larger struggle of the need to be understood that Louis seems so desperate to find. It is clear that in his search for answers, what he is looking for is someone who knows all the answers to the inner turmoil he feels. The only one who would have the answers to his inner struggle is someone who either created the struggle or who is acquainted with that same inner struggle but possesses the further knowledge of how and why that inner suffering is there and how it started. Simply. Louis is looking for someone who understands his suffering.
Ultimately, Louis rejects the one who could understand him. Part of understanding him ultimately is understanding that he refuses to believe that anyone can truely understand him and in this way he continues to inforce his own suffering and loneliness. He is in a catch-22 as it goes. He wants to be understood, but truely understanding him in the way he wants to be understood, is knowing that he cannot believe that anyone can truely understand him.
Thus, the cycle goes on and on. One suffering vampire creating another to endow with understanding yet refusing to be understood. Killing to live. But dead to life.