The brother gets pneumonia, his mother commands the narrator attend the death bed. The narrator feels she is uncharacteristically sharp with him.
The fearful sound of his breathing was so loud that it seemed to be inside
my head. I had the sensation of participating in the agony of a man being
tortured to death, and my shudders became so uncontrollable that I was
afraid of falling upon him. At last words came; clear, and yet not like
human speech at all, they came from so far away.
It's a pity.It was like listening to a voice speaking across oceans and continents. And
after a long delay, very softly, so that none of the others heard, followed two more words.
For you. (76)
The silence between us became intolerable and I stammered something intended
for consolation, saying that at least we still had each other.
Yes, you are all that is left now, she said in a low, grave tone, while
her eyes appeared to be studying me with the same unnatural and dispassionate
consideration that I had bestowed on the tablecloth.
And suddenly, as she stood there looking at me so quietly and steadfastly
in the quiet room...I realized everything, my own blindness, the horror.
It was not I but my brother whom my mother had loved all along. He was the
treasure of which I had robbed her for all these years and of which I had deprived her for ever.
As if she knew what was in my mind she remarked:
You were always stronger then he was, and now you have managed to get rid of him for good (78).
Is this what we do? Do we really know how people feel about us, or do we just see what is convenient. I think the brother all along had been protecting the narrator from knowing the mother's true feelings, and that is why the pity. Now that the brother was dead the narrator was going to know that he wasn't the center of his mother's love and devotion. The theme of this book is how the mind works, and I think that his seizure is timed to keep him from making amends with his brother. His mind wouldn't let him make this move, the move that would have kept the family together. An excellent 15 minute read!
Kavan, Anna. I am Lazarus. London: Peter Owen, 1978.