Charles Butler hannibal at thegates.fsbusiness.co.uk
Thu Aug 5 16:56:52 EDT 2004


>And yet that is what you sometimes see, when a woman remarries, or even
just gets a new boyfriend, that she will >quite cheerfully sacrifice her
older children to the whims/wishes/needs of this new male--even going so
far, >sometimes, as to connive at his using her daughters sexually.  It more
and more sounds as though she was trying to >cut away all the associations
with Clennan.

Yes, I think she probably was. All the same, it's easy to see how she would
have been able to persuade herself (and possibly even me, if I'd been a
bystander) that she was acting in her children's best interests, not
sacrificing them at all. After years of relative poverty and uncertain
living she was introducing them to a life of luxury with a good and powerful
man who was prepared to protect them all and treat them as his own. The
alternative - carrying on in the Singer business without the charismatic
Clennan and with every reason to suspect assassins round each corner - was
hardly an attractive one, and I can see how it might have appeared (even if
she'd been fonder of Clennan than she was) to be a bad choice.

On the wider issue of cwidder-as-date-rape-drug -  as so often with DWJ, I
find myself in difficulties because of the way that she literalizes
metaphors and thus muddies up the ethical water. We are used to men "using
their charm" to get what they want from women (and vice versa - isn't that
the point of 'glamour'?). My quakerish side tells me that this is different
in degree, but not vastly different in kind, from using magic to force
people's affections. On the other hand, all human interactions involve a
degree of rhetorical pressure beyond what is plainly said. Body language,
tone of voice, and so forth, aren't things we can entirely dispense with
even if we wanted to. So I'm not clear whether Clennan simply went too far
down a road that we all tread when we try to get people to see things our
way, or whether he did something extra, different, and absolutely
inexcusable. Or both.


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