Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Single Man - The Single State of Camphor Tree Lane

"This street is called Camphor Tree Lane. Maybe camphor trees grew here once; there are none now. More probably the name was chosen for its picturesqueness by the pioneer escapists from dingy downtown Los Angeles and stuffy-snobbish Pasadena who came out here and founded this colony back in the early twenties" (Isherwood 17).

George's residence is in the suburban exterior of Los Angeles, close to Santa Monica, where Isherwood spent the latter part of his life. We placed George's home in the area of Palisades Park in terms of proximity to the ocean, to the freeway, and to the suburban idyllic community that George describes in Isherwood's novel. The "colony" allows George to maintain bodyless status, not truly engaged in the daily life of "the occupying army of Coke-drinking television watchers" (18). George's house, then, is an escape for this single man, yet the exterior of the home places him in an extremely marginalized position as the Other, the strange deformity that Mrs. Strunk and other neighbors pretend to accept.

The name of "Camphor Tree Lane" is intriguing, because Isherwood's choice of "camphor" implies that there is something to be soothed and hidden in this quite neighborhood surrounding Los Angeles. George's sexuality is ready prey for this secretive tendency. There is the suggestion that George's "condition" is viewed as an unnatural medical phenomenon.

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