Fire and Hemlock again (LONG, and With Spoilers!)

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at indigo.ie
Tue Jun 1 16:55:10 EDT 2004


On Tuesday, May 25, 2004, at 08:06 PM, Dorian E. Gray wrote:

> And around we go some more...

And I didn't manage to reply before you were heading off, which made it 
kind of pointless to do so until you were back (at which point all kinds 
of things separated me from the reply!)  Hope a good time was had by all.

Look at all the pretty colours we've accumulated...

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>> BTW, do you remember where it says that Laurel agreed to 'leave Polly
>> alone'?  I only came across the bargain 'not to harm you'.  (But this
>> wasn't a full reread by any means!)
>
> It's what Polly says at that family gathering:  "All right, I'll forget 
> him,
> just leave me alone."  Laurel has achieved her aim by forcing Polly to 
> say
> she'll forget Tom - but Polly's phrasing puts a condition on the 
> forgetting,
> to my mind.  Effectively, Polly has also forced Laurel to do something, 
> and
> made it a bargain rather than something more one-sided.

That's interesting - hadn't occurred to me before, and I'm heading 
towards feeling that Laurel could quite easily have interpreted this as 
'leave me alone' now, pretty much equal to 'just shut up', with no 
binding on the duration of the leaving alone.
>
>> This part confuses me - if his soul were in the picture, and if Laurel
>> had got him by being given the picture, then why would she still own 
>> him
>> after Tom gave the picture to Polly, as it was his to give?
>
> You know what?  That idea - that Laurel got him by being given the 
> picture -
> had not actually occurred to me!

Eech.  I thought it was what everybody else thought until you said this, 
and then I was unsure of anything!

> Now that you point it out, of course the
> giving of the picture must have had *something* to do with the bargain 
> she
> made with Charles!  And now I wonder, when did the bit of Tom's hair get
> into the picture?  Did Charles put it there before he gave the picture 
> to
> Laurel?  Or did Laurel put it there later?  And come to think of it, 
> *did*
> Charles give Laurel the picture, or did he give it to Tom and then Tom 
> give
> it to Laurel?
>
> But I'm inclined to think that it can't have been just Laurel's getting 
> the
> picture that made Tom hers.  Otherwise, how could Tom himself ever have
> given it away?  Maybe it was a way of signing the contract, so to 
> speak?  Or
> maybe, given that Tom was probably a minor at that point, it was Charles
> giving Tom away, but Tom himself had to later agree to it too, and it 
> was
> Tom's acquiesence (probably when he married Laurel) that *truly* sealed 
> him
> to her.  Laurel *does* seem to work by consent, so it stands to reason 
> that
> she must at some point have got Tom to agree to be hers.
>
> (None of this seems to really answer your question, but you've just 
> given me
> a whole new bit to think about - I'm more thinking aloud here!  I may 
> have
> to start rethinking some of my theories...)

All very interesting - and at the moment, and by me, unanswerable - 
questions!   I'm starting to wonder whether the 'soft focus' view of 
some of these mightn't be a very good way to look at some of the 
questions.  You know what I mean by that?  That way of looking at it 
with your mind's eye just slightly out of focus, so that it makes a 
picture which is different from the 'points' seen in sharp focus?  (I've 
no idea if this makes any sense to anyone else.)
>

> But no, I still think the second time has *got* to have been harder, 
> because
> he knew so much better just what he was up against and what was at 
> stake.
> And how much less likely this time Laurel was to let him go.

And not knowing just how much it mattered is what would make the first 
time much harder to me.  :)  Varying mileage, I guess.
>>

> I'm feeling on shaky ground on this point, now.  I do think he probably 
> felt
> that he needed to be the best musician he could, and that that entailed
> going pro, and that that desire to be the best was what gave him the 
> impetus
> to tear away.  But maybe I am doing him an injustice by insisting that 
> he
> didn't do it on his own.  (Though I still doubt, if he hadn't been 
> such a
> talented musician, that he would have torn free.)

True, but if he hadn't been such a talented musician, he wouldn't have 
been *Tom*.  It's funny, we were having a strangely relevant discussion 
today, about a friend of Becca's.  Another friend had been arguing that 
this girl *had* to try for a professional career, as she was such a good 
musician (violinist), and Becca was arguing that she did *not*, because 
she can love music just as much without being a professional, and she 
knows herself that she'd hate the life.  (Becca is so right, btw!)  But 
now that I think of it, part of Tom really is that toughness to fight 
off a tendency to care what other people think (which is exactly what 
this friend of Becca's lacks), and so yes - I agree with both of 
us.  ;)  Tom really did have the strength to fight Laurel on his own, 
and it really did stem in part from his music - his having something of 
his own that was truly worth something to him.

>> What about his previous renunciation of her - after Granny tells him
>> off?
>
> He hadn't - and I think knew it - free choice at that point.  He tried 
> to
> stop clinging to her, is how I read that part, because he realised that 
> he
> was treating her badly and possibly endangering her.

I agree, but surely that was a free choice in itself?
>
>> just that his choice being free
>> still seems insufficient to be the different factor which resolves
>> things.
>
> Um.  Which "things" have you in mind here?  What resolves the issue of 
> who
> gets to "own" Tom, Polly or Laurel, is Polly's renunciation of Tom.  
> But I
> do think that what resolves the issue of whether Polly and Tom can be
> together is Tom's choice.
>
>> And also, now that I think of it, it's not until *after* the
>> contest that he says he's finally free to ask her if they can be
>> together.
>
> Well, of course!  He *can't* ask her freely until the ties to Laurel are
> finally and utterly cut, which is the last Polly does for him.  But 
> what I
> was trying to get at in the question of "how can they be together" is 
> that
> Polly's renunciation is a contract, or at least both she and Tom see it 
> that
> way:  she says "I never want to see you again" and means it - and, as 
> she
> thinks herself, has to go on meaning it, otherwise it would be all to do
> again.  So them getting together and staying together *has* to be Tom's
> choice, because Polly has cut herself off from making that particular
> choice.

My head's spinning as well as aching just now (and I had only Ballygowan 
to drink last night!) and starting to refuse to listen to my attempted 
commands to *work*.  ;)  But just to throw another possibility in here - 
if there's a lot about contracts, which I agree there is, don't you 
think there's also an equal amount about vision?  Seeing some new 
possibility in the void before you, or seeing Nowhere instead of Here 
Now and the like?  And that, I think, has always been a collaboration 
between the pair of them.  Looked at that way, it's neither just Tom's 
nor Polly's choices totally, but their combined ability to imagine which 
allows them to escape Laurel's boundaries altogether.
>>
>>> Just as Polly loves Tom, and always has.  But she has already 
>>> repudiated
>>> him - or apparently so; as I said, there's more than one meaning
>>> behind "I
>>> never want to see you again".  So whether or not they now get to be
>>> together
>>> is down to his choice.  Polly may well live in fear for the rest of 
>>> her
>>> life, that Laurel will somehow get Tom back, in fact.
>>
>> Noooo!  What a horrible thought!  But she doesn't make more than one
>> bargain, right?
>
> That's what she says.  I begin to wonder if Tom and Polly were paying
> attention when she said it.  It may well be that they are now truly 
> free of
> her, but don't quite realise it.

Well that's not quite as bad!  She said it several times, so maybe at 
some less stressed moment they'll remember it. ;)
>
>> Just to second what you said earlier - there aren't that many books
>> which warrant quite *this* number of discussions and reconsiderings,
>> often by some of the same people!
>
> Isn't it great?!

Wonderful!

Hallie.


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