After the Moment: Point of View

[(Essay Date 13 June 2014) In this essay E.O. analyzes how the point of view of the main character, Leigh Hunter, helps to establish the theme of how love can be both beautiful and dangerous.]

The phrase "it was love at first sight" is not always the case in every relationship. The novel After the Moment, by Garret Freymann-Weyr, begins with the main character, Leigh Hunter, watching Maia Morland at a dinner party, 4 years after the rest of the novel takes place. It is evident that he had fallen deeply in love with Maia: “Of course he could never forget her, and no doubt dreamed of her, even when awake. He had probably looked for her in every girl he’d tried to love since” (Freymann-Weyr 1). Through Leigh’s perspective, Leigh and Maia’s struggling love story unfolds and shows how the passion of love can either lead to happiness or violence.

After meeting Maia for the first time, Leigh is not automatically drawn to her. He had heard that Maia is a self-proclaimed train wreck with Anorexia and self-harm issues. Attempting to form his own opinion about her he says, “There was something off about her. She was pretty, but not…not attractive. Still, he couldn’t recall the last time he’d met a girl without assessing her in terms of how much she made him want to touch her” (33). Once they shook hands, Leigh realized he had felt no reaction. He compares this lack of feelings to his current girlfriend, Astra. At this point in the novel, Leigh is an average teenage boy that mostly associates relationships with sex. He remembers how many months he has been with Astra only by remembering the number of times they have slept together. Comparing Astra to Maia, Leigh says, “If Astra Grein took away his ability to think of anything but touching her, Maia Morland made him think of anything but touch” (33). This shows how Leigh and Maia’s relationship did not begin in the ideal way. It is clear that Leigh is not interested in the emotional and intellectual aspects of a relationship, and he does not want to get involved with Maia and her issues.

Shortly after seeing Maia spending time with his step-sister, Millie, around his house, Leigh’s perspective on Maia changes. He realizes that he is falling in love with her and eventually stops seeing Astra. His actions towards Maia show that he is beginning to care about her. Maia has a difficult time eating in crowds, which Leigh has noticed. Whenever Maia is struggling, Leigh gets her to just focus on him, and she eventually finishes her meal. He also offers to drive her to the jail where her father stays so she can visit him. Leigh recognizes his feelings when saying, “The truth was that Maia wasn’t a girl he simply liked. Neither was she a girl he wanted only to kiss. When he was near Maia, Leigh wanted to touch her, maker her laugh, help her to eat, or ask her questions. It was often enough to just sit quietly beside her” (170). Leigh’s view on relationships has shifted. The beauty in Leigh and Maia’s relationship is that they care for each others well-being. Leigh makes Maia feel safe and more confident in herself. He really wants to understand her and listen to her. They do not want to be together only for the physical aspects, like in Leigh and Astra’s relationship.

Because Leigh cares so much for Maia and her safety, he would do anything to help her. Maia confides in Leigh after she was raped, on film, by two boys at their school. Maia does not want this information in the public, but Leigh is outraged and even says, “I will kill them. All of them” (227). Maia makes him promise he will not say or do anything. Leigh agrees, and Maia trusts him. But the danger in the love and protectiveness Leigh feels for Maia takes over. At school the next day Leigh discovers that one of his friends, Preston, was the videographer while Maia was being raped. Leigh’s disgust and rage overpowers his rational thought and promise to Maia, and he attacks Preston. Preston fights back, and the two boys cause each other serious damage. “But on the day that he shattered Preston Gavenlock’s right cheekbone, blinded him in one eye, and gave him a concussion, Leigh understood that while it hurt to breathe, far worse than anything else was the blood all over Maia’s ribbed yellow socks” (270). Although the two boys were being rushed to the hospital with serious consequences waiting for them to heal, Leigh’s concern and love for Maia was still the first priority.

The novel ends back at the dinner party with Maia and Leigh meeting again after the incident caused Maia to leave for boarding school and Leigh to get suspended and eventually go to college. Leigh’s heart broke when Maia decided to leave, and it was difficult for him to see her again. That night he confessed to her, “You made me feel like I walked on water. No girl - no woman - has done that since. But I also love you. Just you, with all your crazy, amazing crap. I loved you more than I wanted to have sex. And I was seventeen, when sex is pretty much all that matters” (325). When Leigh confesses this, it shows how his perspective on Maia, love, and relationships has grown. He is true to his feelings, and truly loves Maia.

Their relationship also grew throughout the novel. It did not begin or end like a fairytale, but the love they felt for each other aided in discovering their happiness at times and weaknesses at others. Leigh’s passion led to violence, but it was driven by the new-found love he experienced when he met Maia Morland.

(E.O. 2014)