Gideon's emotional life


Gideon reveals how, since childhood, he has always had to pretend to feel the same emotions as other people.

He explains that he has never been a naturally loving person and writes that:

as for love, I didn’t know what it meant

He suggests that the ice built around my heart is due to the lack of warmth and love that he received from his parents as a child.

As a result of his inability to feel normal human emotions, his marriage to Jenny fails. He is unable to truly love her or be honest about his feelings:

I did not love Jenny as I should have: I was not capable of doing so

Gideon is also unable to build a relationship with Elsie, the woman that he really desires, because he is not capable of loving anyone. As Elsie tells Harry Caithness:

He wasn't capable of loving her or me or anybody, including himself


Gideon admits that, until he discovered the Stone, he had lived a life full of lies and deceit:

all my words were spoken with the tongue of a serpent

Gideon lies about:

  • feeling normal emotions
  • his belief in God to his friends, family and congregation
  • his love and devotion to Jenny

His ability to live a life full of deceit was only possible due to his talent for duplicity, his ability to adopt different personas and keep his true self hidden. These are abilities Gideon developed as a child that have served him throughout adulthood. He admits that he has always:

lived behind a mask, adopting my disguise as circumstances required

Gideon’s skill in living a double or even triple life means he is able to convince others that he is a:

  • dutiful and obedient child
  • devout man of God
  • loving husband

The question remains as to why Gideon is so dishonest. Partly he seems uncertain of what he wants. This is reflected by his spoiled vote in the referendum. There is also a suggestion that he is trying to please other people. His father appears to pick up on this:

I hope I never taught you to go through life trying to please other people

Gideon himself notes that lying is sometimes a way to avoid upset or conflict. When describing his lack of love for Jenny and his true feelings for Elsie he writes:

I don’t know why I said these things, except that it was easier than telling the truth