chapter  27
4 Pages

Nial Kent, the Divided Path

Michael is a young boy, growing up in a small American town, confused as to his sexuality. He dreams of a divided path, “one fork seeming to lead downward into misty, shadowy depths which were somehow strangely, compellingly attractive by their mystery, and the other branch led uphill into the sunshine” (p. 252). Initially, Michael follows the uphill path. He has girlfriends-even loses his virginity to one-and refuses to follow through on a number of highly tempting gay proposals. His closest male friend is Paul, a young man with whom he swims nude, shares a bed, and, at one time, even kisses. However, Paul is apparently as confused as Michael, and the relationship leads nowhere-least of all to sexual fulfillment. The novel is quite remarkable for the number of occasions in which Michael finds himself naked and in bed with various naked, attractive young men, with each quickly falling asleep and never indulging in any physical contact beyond a chaste kiss.