“…Aoi was only nine years old, I thought there would be a long period of betrothal but everyone assured me she had reached puberty and offered me visual proof if I did not believe them. So I abandoned the last vestiges of my shore-folk squeamishness and Nao-Kurai fixed the date of my wedding for a few weeks ahead.” (81)
This excerpt from Angela Carters “The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman” explores the institution of marriage and its adoption in two opposing cultures. Here, the river people offer Desiderio a wife named Aoi, who is merely nine years old. Ignoring her young age and intellectual maturity, the river people regard Aoi’s physical stature as the necessary means for marriage. With this, readers sense the oppression that is felt by women throughout the novel, as men here are responsible for organizing all marriage proceedings. Somewhat doubtful and shocked by the idea, Desiderio states that, “she was only nine years old” and thought that “there would be a long period of betrothal.” Once again Desiderio acknowledges the immaturity of Aoi, however, he questions this by imaging a long period of engagement. Desiderio recognizes her young age, and naturally believed in a “long period” of development. Still, these doubts are laid to rest as Desiderio is reassured of Aoi’s physical maturity with the threat of “visual proof.” Ultimately, Desiderio “abandoned” what little doubt was left to accept and set the date of his wedding. Finally signifying the tension between two combining cultures and the institution of marriage.