Dom Casmurro Chapter 107


Had it not been for astronomy I should not have discovered Capitu’s ten pounds so soon; yet it is not for this reason that I return to the subject but merely so that you should not think it was a teacher’s vanity that caused me to be annoyed with Capitu’s lack of attention and feel jealous of the sea. No, my friend. I must explain that my jealousy was of what might be inside my wife’s head, not outside or above it. It is common knowledge that a person’s distraction may be blameworthy, half blameworthy, a third, a fifth or a tenth blameworthy, for in matters of guilt the degree is infinite. The memory of a simple pair of eyes is sufficient to betray itself in other eyes that recall them and find delight in picturing them. It is not necessary to have a deadly sin committed, nor an exchange of letters – a mere word, gesture, sigh or other sign even more insignificant is sufficient. A strange man or woman who turns the corner can make us put Sirius inside Mars, and you know, dear reader, the difference there is between them both in size and distance; but these confusions exist in astronomy. This is what made me turn pale and silent and want to rush from the room, to return God knows when, probably ten minutes later. Ten minutes later I should be there again in the room, beside the piano or the window, carrying on with the interrupted lesson.

‘Mars is at a distance of …’

Such a short time? Yes, such a short time – ten minutes. My jealousy was intense but of short duration: in a few moments I could destroy everything, but in those same few moments or less I could rebuild earth, heaven and the stars. The truth is that I drew even closer to Capitu, if that were possible, and she became even more loving, the air sweeter, the nights brighter and God more godlike. And this was not solely on account of the ten pounds sterling, nor the sense of economy that they revealed and of which I was already aware, but because of the concern with which Capitu one day explained to me her everyday household cares. My friendship with Escobar, too, was strengthened. Our visits became more frequent and our conversations more intimate.