comprehensive and replete with quotatins from te text
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One of the novel's central relationships is the sustained romantic affair between Joe Trace, a fifty year old man, and Dorcas, who is in her late teens. Throughout the novel, the murdered girl becomes a symbol of youth. Her aunt, Alice Manfred, identifies Dorcas' youth with a budding sexuality that has brought calamity. The motif of the garden of Eden presents the image of Dorcas as a young Eve who is enticed and enticing. Violet Trace's reaction to Dorcas is similar. Her jealousy stems from her husbands affair and she can't help but notice the contrast between her aging, sagging body and Dorcas' youthful, fuller figure. Violet tries to drink malts and eat multiple meals to regain the pounds of her youth and her "competition" with the dead girl is ironic because Violet does not want to compete with the young, dead child; rather, she wishes that Dorcas could be the young daughter that she never had. Dorcas' friend Felice comes to serve this role for Violet and she also provides consolation for Joe, demonstrating a healthier way in which "youth" can sustain "age" without bloodshed.
Subthemes: Sexuality, the "Fall" in Eden, Seduction