The Picture of Adolescence

When our eyes met, I felt that I was growing pale. A curious sensation of terror came over me. I knew that I had come face to face with some one whose mere personality was so fascinating that, if I allowed it to do so, it would absorb my whole nature, my whole soul, my very art itself.

I pause. "What's strange about the things Basil says here?"

An uncomfortable silence. Finally, one student clears her throat.

"Uh . . . he's talking about another dude."

They're not sure what to make of the slightly-more-than-bromances that fill the story with tearful sighs and long, brooding stares. And they've had enough of the drama. "Look," says one. "Here, 'He flung himself down on the couch . . . ' and before, 'She flung herself on her knees, sobbing . . .' Why are these people always flinging themselves everywhere?"

But they also say brilliant things: When Lord Henry walks with Dorian in the garden and plants the seed of vanity in his soul, it's like he's Satan speaking to Adam in the Garden of Eden, ruining him through temptation. Dorian is afraid to present himself to the world as he really is, the same way that we need to confess our sins before approaching God in Communion. There is something beautiful in the brokenness that Sibyl leaves behind in her suicide -- she had one glorious moment of unadulterated understanding just before her constructed reality implodes on itself.

I listen, laugh, shake my head in awe. I don't say very much. I don't have to.