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Young David’s sympathy for the vulnerable, hunted elephant—across species boundaries and against his father—leads him to disavow language itself for its capacity to betray. I track this feeling into the adult narrative. In contrast with many critics, I claim that the older David shares Catherine’s suspicion of writing. Writing interrupts the lived intimacy of their marriage, producing tension between embodied experience and artistic representation. Yet writing also enriches and intensifies their experience, in part by reiterating human mortal weakness. This dilemma about the function of language echoes the novel’s inquiry into the seductions and hazards of desire itself.