Conrad's Fate (with spoilers)

Robyn Starkey rohina at shaw.ca
Sun May 15 19:37:13 EDT 2005


mecha godscylla wrote:

>
>
>> From: "Hallie O'Donovan" <hallieod at indigo.ie>
>> Reply-To: dwj at suberic.net
>> To: dwj at suberic.net
>> Subject: Re: Conrad's Fate (with spoilers)
>> Date: Sun, 15 May 2005 20:12:19 +0100
>>
>> Robyn:
>>
>>>>>>> SPOILER SPACE
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>
>> 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
>>
>
>
> "I suppose part of the reason it is so obvious is that Conrad is an 
> idiot."
>
> "I find Conrad to be without redeeming freature..."
>
> I need more details.  How so and in what ways did his idiocy strike 
> you? What features does he lack that he ought to have, or have that he 
> should lack?  What makes him unsympathetic?

I think the main problem I have with Conrad is his dullness. He seems to 
be suffering from not understanding that basic rule of writing: "show, 
don't tell". Conrad tells the reader how he feels "the conversations 
with my uncle made me feel horrible," but for me, the descriptions are 
all flat and dull. When he's supposedly terrified by the witch, it's not 
even mildly exciting. He's not bored by his utterly dull job, which he 
describes in utterly endless dull detail.
He steadfastly refuses to see what everyone else in the book knows, that 
this "fate" nonsense is being made up by his uncle. When it's pointed 
out to him, he doesn't get angry (like Mitt), or admit the truth of it 
immediately (like Cat), or become introspective (like Christopher) or 
even have a meltdown (like Roddy). He's just not that fussed; although 
he does refuse to consider new information. That's one big reason why I 
think he's an idiot.
I think I find him unsympathetic because he's dull and he's passive. He 
just does what he's told. I agree with Hallie's comments about not 
getting a sense of his character. This is one thing that really made me 
dislike the book, because of the narrative voice being Conrad's. He 
doesn't even really have an internal monologue of dissent, which seems 
to me to be a waste of a first-person narrative. I mean, having a dull 
protagonist doesn't have to make a dull book (even a dull narrator can 
work - look at Ishiguro's Remains of the Day) but something else has to 
be going on. I get the impression that all the interesting action in 
Conrad's Fate takes place offstage - what happened to Millie, where 
Christopher went, what Anthea was up to at University...

Robyn

--
To unsubscribe, email dwj-request at suberic.net with the body "unsubscribe".
Visit the archives at http://suberic.net/dwj/list/



More information about the Dwj mailing list