Very late Harvest discussion (Spoilers)
Jason said Crace immersed us in the mind, a positive trait. But I found the long narratives dull and difficult to read. The pacing was simply far too slow for my liking. Many of them I found a bit hard to follow. I found myself zoning out, later realizing that I’d not actually digested anything that I’d read, forcing me to read again. This may have been a function of the amount of time that it took me to read the book. I would read 50 pages, then put it down for extensive periods of time. I finally finished after having ignored the book for a few weeks. I’d even started “On Leave” to try to get some momentum. While I do appreciate the language, I felt the story was lost while trying to wade through the prose. I’m not as enthralled with the archaic vocabulary. As Jason pointed out, we are left with many gaps to the story, though I agree that it is diliberate dissonance.
I also found the inaction by the people during the abuses were very strange, but like Jason, I agree that we do witness things similarly every day, yet do not act. My wife and I have been lamenting what is going one at the border with the migrant children, some of whom have simply be set back on the other side of the border to be taken by those who will use and abuse them. The political fallout to what is going on down there polarizes us. It amazes me to hear that there are those who advocate continuing to turn these vulnerable children and women away given the dangers that they face. But for many, the few cents they hope to save on their taxes outweigh the wellbeing of their neighbors.
I saw the burning of the buildings as not only simply vengeance. I believe that the Bedlams and Walter, despite his original reluctance in misplaced respect for Master Kent to do so, burned the buildings as a sort of cleansing, erasing the memory of what had transpired there. For a moment, I thought that Walter even was intentionally lingering in Master Kent’s home so that he might be cleansed by the flames as well, escaping his miserable existence, one of the only potentially noble things he could have done in way of repentance. I too, like Amy, was put off by Walter’s continuous and clumsy attempts to win favor with others. I was particularly annoyed with the way he tries to win favor with the husband before he releases him. “See what a good guy I am for ending your wrongful imprisonment and torture early. Geez I’m swell,” while jingling the keys at the captive and conveniently forgetting that he had the chance to save the father pain by simply giving him a block to stand on but was too lazy to do so. He even concocts a ridiculous fantasy in which he joins the Bedlams as a friend, as if the early release and forced labor working the field, also a symbolic cleansing, would somehow then make him endeared to them. “We worked the field together, so we’re buddies now, right?” It’s a fantasy he doesn’t give up, again imagining that the couple packed his things and cooked him a meal after his bender, which I believe was a feeble, half-hearted attempt at suicide, as if by feigning remorse for his misdeeds, someone might see and take pity on him. He knows he is not a good man. He knows that he doesn’t deserve quality companionship.
I apologize for how far behind I am. I am about half-way through “On Leave.” I have a copy of “The End of Sparta,” but I’m not sure when I’ll actually read it. I plan to try to push through the rest of “On Leave” and then join you all on “White Oleander.” It’s far more fun to be on pace with you all then the months behind that I am.