Thursday, May 27, 2010


I've no idea if this is the conventional wisdom, or not, or if my theory will be dashed to pieces by the end of the book, but isn't John Singer a Christ figure, and the Greek friend he so loves (but is parted from) the Father?

Seems he fulfils a lot of criteria - in the South, but not of it, his uses and purposes are unclear to those around him, but they find him magnetic, and the four friends who visit him, well, perhaps they are different theologies, e.g. Mick longs for beauty, the Doctor for justice.

I dread a crucifixion in the offing. I almost don't want to listen to any more.


Emily J. said...

I can see Singer as a kind of Christ figure, but I care so little for the Greek that I have a hard time seeing him as a Father figure. I just finished the book a couple days ago; so I'm still puzzling over what to make of the ending. But don't want to spoil ...

I meant to collect some thoughts on this book but life has intervened. All I got down on paper was this quote from near the beginning of the book that I just loved. It reminded me of a sister-in-law who died of brain cancer shortly after she and my brother-in-law were married. Less than a year they spent together. But she has a place in the "souls of the living."

“Why was it that in cases of real love the one who is left does not more often follow the beloved by suicide? Only because the living must bury the dead? Because of the measured rites that must be fulfilled after a death? Because it is as though the one who is left steps for a time upon a stage and each second swells to an unlimited amount of time and he is watched by many eyes? Because there is a function he must carry out? Or perhaps, when there is love, the widowed must stay for the resurrection of the beloved – so that the one who has gone is not really dead, but grows and is created for a second time in the souls of the living? Why?"

mrsdarwin said...

I didn't see Singer as a Christ figure, but rather as tabula rasa for all the other characters to etch with whatever characteristics they considered most sympathetic. Maybe that "tabula rasa" role is why Singer has no disagreeable or coarse mannerisms -- it's easier to see someone as a blank slate when they don't already come loaded with weird quirks.

Same with the Greek -- I don't think he had any larger significance than that Singer created him in his (Singer's) own image just as all the others did with Singer. Only in Singer's case, the Greek had a larger place because he both filled the roles of needing Singer (or who Singer thought needed him) and being the only person to whom Singer felt he could unburden his soul.

At first I thought that the Greek was going to fill the same role for Singer that Kurt the injured German did for Sebastian in Brideshead -- Sebastian cared for the German and loved him because Kurt was the only person who'd ever needed Sebastian's help without being able to repay him. But that didn't seem to be the case.

BettyDuffy said...

I keep thinking I'm still going to read this book before May is over. But it's not looking promising. I might have to throw my two cents in later.

Mrs. D, I think you're on deck for book choosing.

mrsdarwin said...

Hm, book choice... Lemme think about this for a minute before throwing anything out there. I still have one last thought on this book before I move on, whenever I get a chance to write it up.