Conrad's Fate (with spoilers)

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at indigo.ie
Sun May 15 15:12:19 EDT 2005


Robyn:

>>>>>SPOILER SPACE
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>>>I thought the whole Uncle thing was obvious and unbelievable. So 
>>>unworthy of dwj, who is normally quite subtle and interesting when 
>>>creating deception and exploitiation. I suppose part of the reason 
>>>it is so obvious is that Conrad is an idiot.
>>>
>>
>>I also felt the point was hammered home with irritating 
>>relentlessness.  But was Conrad really more of an idiot than 
>>Christopher was at the equivalent stage or was Uncle Ralph just one 
>>of the more subtly presented exploiters?  I'd think the latter 
>>myself.
>
>I think it is a little from column A, a little from column B. I find 
>Conrad to be without redeeming freature, which is particularly 
>problematic in a first-person narrative. I find it hard to believe 
>that dwj was going for dramatic irony and failed so utterly - it's 
>not like she hasn't made it work before, in, oh, I don't know, her 
>PREVIOUS book. Christopher's idiotic behaviour was accompanied by 
>enough context to make it understandable (e.g. when he acts 
>pigheaded because he feels the Castle staff are treating him 
>unsympathetically); Conrad appears to have no excuse except his 
>stolid, dull nature.

I can't say that I got a great picture of Conrad's character one way 
or the another - which might or might not add weight to your case!  I 
found him totally swamped in the pre-Stallery parts by the 
heavy-handedness of the abusive uncle & mother combo, with the added 
hammering of the mother's feminism really not helping.  But 
Christopher's falling for Uncle Ralph's exploitation was more what I 
was thinking of in their respective idiocies.  Creating sympathy for 
apparently unsympathetic characters is yet another great DWJ 
strength, even if the lack of sympathy is only due to idiocy.

Hallie

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