In the analysis that I performed on Pattern Recognition in my final essay, I concluded that Cayce was almost asexual in the novel, and that any graphic or direct depictions of sex had an adverse effect on the commitments that Cayce had made or wanted to make.
Looking back over the novel, in revising my paper, I've realized that Cayce is far from asexual. In fact, I feel like her sexuality is a really fundamental piece of her personality, but, like everything about her and the novel, it is understated to the point that it is difficult to notice. One of the major interactions that I failed to consider in my first analysis was the interaction between Cayce and Hubertus, when they go out to the bar and Hubertus proposes the Footage project (61-73). Throughout the interaction, Cayce feels Hubertus' presence: his voice is "strangely compelling" (62), he is "undeniably good-looking" (67), she feels herself "held by those eyes, against all conscious will" (64), she even flirts a little bit at the end of the night, showing Hubertus how to put on his cowboy hat properly (73). Cayce is clearly attracted to Hubertus, somehow, but it is a definitely physical attraction. Though it may not be directly sexual, it is definitely not intellectual, and in fact goes counter to Cayce's natural impulses. Sex is one of the first things on her mind when she interacts with Bigend (she's suddenly on "full sexual alert" (63)), so she is clearly not asexual. She understands and realizes her own reactions to Bigend, but she keeps them hidden and does not outwardly react to them. But nevertheless, this desire, this outward sexuality is associated with Bigend, who Cayce never completely trusts (also partly because of the sexual betrayal that he has inflicted on her friend from New York). Throughout the novel, it is the handsome men, the ones that she feels some sort of desire for, that Cayce distrusts.
Despite my reconsideration of the overall tone of the novel, and of Cayce's attitude towards sex, I still think that the direct appearance of sex is closely associated with the breaking of commitments and a lack of trust. There is one major counter-example to this argument, that was pointed out by both professor Fitzpatrick and my peer reviewer. In my rough draft, I mentioned the example of Donny, who is mentioned at length only twice in the novel, both times regarding sexual experiences that Cayce had with him. I regarded both of these experiences as essentially the same: direct portrayals of sex, and a direct associations between sex and Donny, who Cayce rightly broke up with.
My reviewers pointed out that the real reason that Cayce broke up with Donny was not because of the overt association between him and sex (Cayce is "more or less happy" lying underneath him, after all), but instead because of the association of Donny with extremely violent behavior (finding the gun taped conveniently behind his headboard) (41). I agree with this argument, to some extent. However, I think that the association between this breakup and sex is inescapable. It could have been any other time that Cayce could have realized that Donny was a violent person. He could have hit her, he could have gotten unreasonably angry, she could even have found the gun while she was stretching to wake up in the morning next to him. But she found it during sex. Her breakup with this person, no matter the actual reason, occurred during the one and only semi-graphic portrayal of sex in the entire novel.
I'm sure that there were good moments with Donny, just as there are redeeming factors to Boone Chu and Hubertus, but in the way that Cayce's attraction to all these men is associated with lack of trust and the breaking of commitments, the novel discounts these good qualities and returns to my main point: sex must be secondary in Cayce's interactions with others, or there can be no trust between them.