I just love how Highsmith pushes the reader straight into the everyday madness of her characters and oh boy, these two are a whole new level of unlikeable in the Highsmith-verse.
Victor seems to be an incredibly intelligent guy with an interest in a variety off things (bed bugs and gregorian chants, people) and yet I can´t shake the feeling that he is a condescending jerk:
One of Vic´s firmest principles was that everybody - therefore, a wife - should be allowed to do as she pleased, provided no one else was hurt and that she fulfilled her main responsibilities, which were to manage a household and to take care of her offspring, which Melinda did - from time to time.
It was against Vic´s principles, as an adult, to be firm with another adult. Granted Melinda wasn´t an adult, he still intended to go on treating her as one.
Objectively, he could see that Melinda was likeable enough, provided one didn´t demand conversation. She was generous, a good sport, and she was fun at parties.
And I´m sure that the inappropiate joke is coming back to haunt him.
Melinda is the (not so ) beloved spouse of Vic and there is a special kind of cruelty to the way she treats her husband. I´m wondering about the psychology behind her behaviour. I think with Vic being such a passive character, who doesn´t show any kind of emotions, she wants to get some kind of emotional response of out him. And he doesn´t give her the satisfaction of succeeding. These two might just bring the worst out in each other.
I´m wondering where Highsmith is taking the relationship between these two characters.