[percy-l] July Second - in order of the pages I make note of what grabbed my attention along the way

janetcantor37 at yahoo.com janetcantor37 at yahoo.com
Mon Jul 14 15:09:55 EDT 2014

On the first page of this chapter we get again light reflecting off of a white jacket and off of grits. I keep wondering what these repetitions of light coming off of things represents. Later Max's pens, flashlight and reflex hammer glitter like diamonds in his vest pocket.  And these examples appear all over the writing.  Perhaps I got it from one of the commenters who said it is important to look for heavenly glory in ordinary things, and the light may be the light from heaven. 

I found it funny that while Tom's mother wants to bring him back to the church, she is busy analyzing those astrological charts. And she does not like that Roman priest, Father Smith.
The factionalism that is threatening to upend equilibrium is even happening in the church.
 She is earth bound, selling real estate.

I wondered if Percy inserted the phrase in passing "As I Lay Dying" intentionally? Anyone know?

 In the dedication for his excellent memoir, Learning to Die in Miami, Carlos Eire named The Little Infant Jesus of Prague, whom he called a fellow exile. This statue is named in one of the pages of this section but I can't tell you which page because my numbers are not the same as others'.

A tendril winds around his mother's antique table - I thought to myself - future ruins.

Tom is changeable. One word and his attention goes to another of the ladies which are his current obsessions.

The scene of Tom with one foot in and one foot out ready to make his escape from the church is so funny and I expect will be remembered in some way later. Lots of seemingly disconnected things will be explained later.

As Father Smith talks about Lazarus, I get the feeling that he and the rest of us interpret things to please our own versions of truth. In a later page Tom muses parenthetically ("strange: no matter what one says, no matter how monstrous, garbled, unfittable, whoever hears it will somehow make it fit.") And I wondered if Percy was giving the reader a gentle nudge to make us aware of it when we do that as we read his novels, making things fit our own narratives and not allowing the author to write the story for us or going with HIS flow.

The description of the parishioners as they enter Father Smith's church makes them sound like a strange lot. What is going on? They look to Tom like strays and stragglers after a battle. Tom wonders if he is one of them.

Two cute things on one page -
(As Tom makes his escape from the church) "Goodbye, Pius XII, Hello Lola Baby, big lovely cellist."
"It seemed he had behaved oddly at the ten o'clock mass and created consternation among the faithful."
Phrases like that amuse me.

Here's another one - "This was before Father Kev Kevin married Sister Magdalene and took charge of the vaginal computer in Love." Try to explain that sentence out of context to anyone who has not read this book. 
I also liked the probable pun when Father Rinaldo, in his bed at the asylum, had eyes looking neither right nor left.

In the dialogue between Max and Tom, Tom says death is winning and life is losing. And he tells Max that Max is safer than most because he doesn't know any better. He even tells Max that you doctors are doing the will of G-d even if you don't believe in him. I wonder what Slomo would say about that.

Father Smith suggests to Tom that he move into his mother's house. Shades of the earlier warning that Tom would be safe if he moved there. What does this mean? Hmmmm.

We were asked to explain the structure of the novel and what is the purpose of the way the chapters go? 
I would suggest we trust our author as he takes us on his journey and not try to outguess him or think ahead.
I would recommend to those ambitious enough, before you read July Third, that you reread carefully the last two pages of this section beginning with "Here's the riddle...".  You won't know anything more than you now know, but you will get an idea of Percy's game.

Generally his novels have confusion and fun and creative detours and you don't know what it is all leading to.
More later....

That's my two cents on this section.
Janet Cantor
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