What Sally Rooney’s books (and series) say about love in our time

Enjoining detachment, detachment and lack of communication: In writing or on our screens, Sally Rooney’s works speak to us about contemporary love and provide a sharp look at the obstacles that stand between us today. To analyze.

Relationships 2.0

Settling into an undefinable relationship, trying polyamory, or trying not to fall in love with your sex partner… Does it speak to you? However, it is not about your love life, but about the actions of Sally Rooney’s novels. Hailed by critics and described as the voice of a generation, able to deliver an informed and fair commentary on modern conditions, the Irish writer has loved and the difficulties associated with the central subject of his works.

Without ever passing judgment on the characters’ choices, Sally Rooney depicts the complexities of our romantic relationships and how they collide with modern dictates of detachment, rationalization and freedom. Having multiple partners, freely assuming one’s sexual orientation and exploring one’s sexuality: as many topics as Normal people, Conversations with friends Where Beautiful world, where are youaddress in bulk.

Dealing freely with questions of desire, for the first time, but also still taboo topics such as endometriosisSally Rooney’s works are firmly rooted in their time, young adults’ grip on sex, the end of love in the traditional sense of the word and the redefinition of commitment.

Screenshot – Conversations with friends

Privileged love

However, all the characters are not equal in Sally Rooney, and this creates turbulence.

By confronting different social classes, the author illustrates how our privileges stand between us ; while some of its heroes and heroines belong to an intellectual and urban petty bourgeoisie, others come from more disadvantaged backgrounds and, although class dropouts, sometimes experience economic hardship.

Vectors of shame and misunderstanding, these differences in means are the cause of deep misunderstandings : i Normal people, unable to admit his precariousness to his partner and not daring to ask her to be accommodated, Connell runs away from Marianne without explanation, bringing an involuntary end to their story. To these different social backgrounds are also added Conversations with friends an age difference as Frances, twenty-one, is in a relationship with a married man over thirty. “Things and people developed around me, belonging to obscure hierarchies and to systems that I did not know and would never know anything about,” she analysed.

As her characters clumsily try to dominate each other, Sally Rooney reminds us that love is always, above all, a subtle and shifting relationship between forces and power. Locked in a priori fixed social identities, the main characters can only try to build bridges between them and them without much success.

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Screenshot – Chat with friends

From the impossibility of saying things to each other

The real common thread in Sally Rooney’s works thus remains the incommunicability that characterizes our love relationships.

Interrupted by heavy silences, the series Normal people and Conversations with friends are heavy with things that have not been said. From their refusal to express their feelings to the lies that keep them apart, the characters constantly struggle to find their words and their reports lack authenticity; they are unable to show vulnerability or ask for helpas evidenced by the scene where Frances thinks about having a miscarriage but doesn’t dare tell her partner.

Sally Rooney also remembers the ambivalent role technology plays in these interactions: if it allows us to open up more easily, it also allows us to stage a better, bolder and more seductive version of ourselves. “I wanted to kiss you. I hope it didn’t show too much,” Nick texted Frances late that night.

This contrast between the digital and reality is in the image of the author’s heroes and heroines’ exploded identitieswho carefully cultivate a reputation that is completely out of step with their inner self: while Frances, Marianne or Bobbi affect cynicism to hide their desire to be loved, Connell or Nick meanwhile seem trapped by an apathy that prevents them from surrender.

Sally Rooney puts her finger on it the way we’ve learned to compartmentalize our emotions to empty them of their hold on uswith the risk of no longer being able to establish links.

His works make self-disclosure the only way to free oneself from these artificial conditions of domination: it is only when they drop their masks that Frances, Bobbi, Marianne, Connell and Nick manage to love each other calmly. “You have to experience certain things before you can understand them,” Frances finally concludes. “You can’t always analyze everything.”

Wouldn’t it be time in 2022, Sally Rooney seems to be asking us to tell ourselves that we simply love each other?


Also read:

Normal people, a series about the burning and sensitive love of young students

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