Philip Roth's The Human Stain richly develops the complexity of human life and relationships between people of the opposite sex. The main characters of the book, Faunia and Coleman, come from extremely different pasts, yet they each have dark secrets that allow a bond to develop between the two. The outside community, a small college town, passes judgment on Coleman as an old, retired professor using his power and position in life to exert control and influence over Faunia, the presumed illiterate and sexually promiscuous janitor for the college and town.
Coleman's hidden identity is that he is actually African-American although he lived his entire professional life as a Jewish professor. Faunia runs from her high societal, privileged past where she was molested by a stepfather to portray herself by choice as illiterate. Roth lets the reader in on these hidden identities. He shows the foolishness of the community and particularly the college professors and Roth's chairman, a sexy and flirtatious young overachieving woman. The facultys' foolishness comes in the erroneous judgments they make about both Coleman and Faunia.
Roth is harsh about judgmental behavior by others, particularly when it comes to relationships. He is so true about the senseless and irresponsible behavior of people to pass judgment on peers and friends. We can never know the depths of other people's lives and all that influences their decisions. Human life (the human stain as Roth describes it through Faunia) is so complicated, so complex. It is a mosaic that is continually be woven as we live. I don't think we can even fully understand why we always act in certain ways at certain times. However, it seems even more absurd when others pass judgment. Roth seems most critical of this when it comes to relationships. We all have our hidden identities and we should recognize they exist in others.
Roth uses the Coleman and Faunia relationship as a foil to the Clinton and Lewinsky relationship. I agree with the premise that the personal reasons that led to that relationship can never be known to all of us who so readily passed judgment on Bill and Monica. It really just is not that important. We should leave it alone. Who cares. It is so overdone. Let it rest. They are allowed to have their hidden identities and judgment should be left to someone in another world.