Lipton’s Journal/January 25, 1955/258

From Project Mailer

I wonder if one doesn’t choose a mate who accommodates the particular combination of our parents which the H and S need at a given time. So Bea[1] who was like my mother in her strength, her confidence, her bold grasp, and her lack of deeper understanding combined with the essential non-conformism of my father. Essentially I married my mother (who is masculine) because I felt womanly, but I chose the particular mother-substitute who could remind me of my father (who is delicately feminine) but also a rebel. I married a woman who was a feminine rebel in a masculine way. But I grew in masculinity, and our marriage became intolerable to both of us. (One subtlety of Bea is that she acts like my father in times of stress—she pulls out of the situation, she becomes passive and inert.)

With Adele[2] I found the lovely sensitive woman who was always in my father, and Adele whose sensitivity is deep like my father’s also plays the fool like my father. He says pompous things which repel one; she says silly things which make one ridicule her. But while the woman is dominant in Adele, the masculine element (my mother) is present. In times of stress—quarrels between us, etc.—Adele puts her head down and slugs it out toe to toe, just like my mother. Her rages are strong, her affection is strong, her loyalty is essentially constant but she plays with her loyalty to me, she examines it with the sensitivity of my father.

What I have tried to outline here is that we do not marry mother-substitutes or father-substitutes, we marry (especially if we are bisexual) mother-father embodiments. But we choose the embodiment we are best able to deal with, and for that matter admire—which is a way of saying “What the world will approve of most.” But there is no escaping it. When we find a mother-father embodiment whichmy God who corresponds closely to what we truly need (given the particular H vs. S imbroglio we can hardly escape her or him). Weird marriages one must always attempt to understand, for they are the marriages of people who are very close homeodynamically (the word is just frightful—I’ve got to get something between that and soul).


  1. Beatrice Silverman (1922 – 2016) was Mailer’s first wife. They met when she was a student at Boston University and he was at Harvard. They married in 1944 and their only child Susan, was born in 1949. After their divorce in January 1952, Silverman moved to Mexico, married Steve Chavez, and became an M.D. psychiatrist.
  2. Adele Morales (1925 – 2015), who he married in April 1954, was Mailer’s second wife. The mother of his daughters Danielle (b. 1957), and Elizabeth Anne (b. 1959), she separated from Mailer in early 1961 a few months after he stabbed her with a penknife, just missing her heart. He pled guilty to felonious assault and was given a suspended sentence. They divorced in 1962.