Mind reading — Peter’s response to the question of love.

“–Peter always in love, always in love with the wrong woman? What’s your love? she might say to him. And she knew his answer; how it is the most important thing in the world and no woman possibly understood it.” 

The first question makes a number of assumptions. First, it assumes that Peter is the source of love — he is never the recipient of mutual feelings. Second, it assumes that Peter is in love with the “wrong” woman, which implies bad judgement. Third, it assumes Clarissa is the “wrong” woman — in suggesting this, she is attempting to hide her love for Peter on the basis of a pre-existing relationship with Richard. While not his answer, the assumptions above are reflected in the question posed to Peter. 

In response to the question “What’s your love?” Clarissa supposes that Peter would answer: “it is the most important thing in the world and no woman possibly understood it.” This, like the question, assumes a number of things: First, it assumes that Peter, for his love, is irrational. In Clarissa’s projected answer, there is an absurd tone; how could love be the most important thing in the world. Second, it assumes, in what is an empirical falsehood, that Peter is the sole human who is obsessed with the condition of being in love. In the novel, many characters are driven by love: Rezia and Clarissa, most notably. Third, Clarissa implants herself into the answer. In her attempt to reject Peter’s love, she uses the language of “no woman” to resolve the tension she is experiencing; she is searching for someone who says ‘you may not love Peter.’