I’m working on a scene where it’s hard to understand Einstein’s behavior. It’s mid-July, 1901, and Mileva is about to re-sit her exams at the Polytech, having failed them the summer before. It’s her last chance to pass, and, oh-my-god, she’s pregnant now, with Einstein’s baby. You might think he’d want to be there for her, to coach her through, to help her with geometry, a subject that eluded her, no thanks to a particularly obtuse professor in the subject. Surely she would have appreciated his presence. Whatever happens with the tests, she must head home to Serbia afterward, to tell her parents she’s going to have a baby.
Did I mention the two aren’t married?
How do I make Einstein’s behavior something other than a dastardly abandonment, when instead of staying in Zurich, he’s off vacationing with his mother and sister in Mettmenstetten? Yes, indeed. He’s at a cushy hotel, the Pension-Paradies in the Alps!
Fortunately, I have point-of-view on my side. The important thing here is not to look at the big picture and see what he might have done, but to get inside his head and see how the prospect looked to him. And I don’t mean the view from the hotel veranda. Behind his eyes, I see that the greatest threat to Mileva’s well-being is not the exams or her father. It’s his mother. He’s off to do battle with the dragon. I’m reminded of Grendal’s Dam and thinking I might need to re-read Beowulf. s