But in these Shirley pages there are other details that have nothing to do with entering and exiting, eg, "a silver pen, a crimson berry or two of ripe fruit on a green leaf." I look until I begin to doubt: I might be wrong, there might be no entering and exiting, it might be me, only me, entering and exiting stuck my mind maybe and not the author's -- why then not hers but mine: why mine? Dilemma, doubt, hands clutched.
Assume, imagining, that some earlier experience had primed me for it; was it the situation in the book itself that put the idea of erotic enterings and exitings in my head, the two evasive love-mutes coming closer but still hesitating, Shirley and her tutor, those two ripe fruits framed on their green leaf, they are on the verge of holding hands, and so I misread a chapter that had a totally normal number of innings and outings occurring, and thought these ins and outs were significant when really they had been happening at the same rate for the past two hundred pages. Nothing material has changed, only the surge of energy that came before the chapter; the flavour changed, of that surge: call that a theory but I doubt the theory too and honestly imagine that it is completely wrong and my first idea was right, namely, that enterings and exitings had come genuinely into the story for the first prominant time.
A pretty seal, a silver pen, a crimson berry or two of ripe fruit on a green leaf, a small, clean, delicate glove -- these trifles at once decorate and disarrange the stand they strew. Order forbids details in a picture -- she puts them tidily away; but details give charm.
Detail is excessiveness in this formulation, the presence of a detail is the sign of excessivity and wildness, the regular movement of the world is stopped up or diverted, maybe for a moment or maybe forever, until even the little detail of the hand-holding is wild in thought when it finally occurs, and on the surface it is not a romantic hand-hold -- his brother has been hurt and she is being sympathetic -- but the author electrifies the detail of that quick lay; the point was this electrification. "It lay like a snowflake," thinks the tutor, "it thrilled like lightning."
A thousand times I have longed to possess that hand -- to have it in mine. I have possessed it; for five minutes I held it. Her fingers and mine can never be strangers more. Having met once they must meet again.
The detail can't be revoked, the author says: the action is final, destiny has been pushed in a concrete direction, and with this small gesture a new explosive future has been triggered. And a degree of intensity in Brontë coming from this reminder, which happens over and over again in different ways throughout Shirley, that actions in her books do not happen, they are committed. The book has been written as if every movement is a fatal sacrifice to the future. I'm suggesting, then, that Shirley mimics the irrevocable forces that create a universe.