[percy-l] comments on the next assignment for the slow read of The Second Coming
honeyjbc at gmail.com
Sun Aug 14 17:11:26 EDT 2016
Chapter three ends with, "He remembered everything."
Chapter four begins, "She remembered nothing."
We are getting inside Allison's reality more now as we get a description
of what she must feel like in her mental illness.
She thinks to herself that when she utters words, they don't seem worth
uttering. She wonders if they have meanings. Others are easier with words
than she is. But already she is beginning to understand that the euphemisms
people use often mean the opposite of what they say.
Percy's interest in how we communicate is an important part of this book.
She has chosen the greenhouse for her abode. She goes about figuring out
how to clean it up to make it livable. As she handles things, she begins to
remember how they were part of her past.
A dog who is on his own joins her.
Now the scene changes to what happened before she arrived here. She was in
the institution and her parents were coming to see her and to talk to the
doctor. Something is afoot.
Her lack of socializing with others causes the doctor to think she needs
When she used to be home with her parents, her father could not hide his
disappointment in her. Her mother, on the other hand, "refused to let her
fail" - ever the optimist.
Seeing her parents all dressed up when they came to visit Allison figured
they were just passing through. "The two of them blew in like tropical
birds." They talked about Will Barrett. Obviously they are going to the
Allison thinks, "Talk about me."
Her parents had two different ideas for Allison. Her father wanted her to
remain under the doctor's care here. And her mother wanted to take Allison
home to live in a carriage house on their property. The doctor thinks she
is not ready to go home. Mom thinks the only thing wrong with Allison is
that she is sensitive. Both Mom and Dad are not taken with the Doctor's
suggestion that they come up to participate in some family sessions. They
decide to continue this discussion and allow Allison to remain alone in the
Allison listens in and learns that her "Aunt Sally" who was not her aunt
but a friend of her aunt, liked her because she always listened to her and
no one else would. Sally left Allison her property. Allison takes four
hundred dollars from her father's wallet which he had left in his jacket in
And this is when the idea was hatched that we learned about earlier in the
story. Allison knew she had to plan her escape. And that is when she wrote
it all down as we saw at the beginning.
Now we are back to the greenhouse. Will returns. Somehow Allison feels
comfortable with him. The way they communicate is charming to read.
He sees the stove in an awkward position and offers to help her move it.
But she prefers to do it herself. "The helping is not helping me." He makes
some suggestions to help her move it herself.
Some things I liked:
The phrase - "Down stone steps and into root smelling dark."
She cleans out the greenhouse which has wild roots and things growing
through windows. It reminded me of the vines growing through the floor and
into the house in LITR. Only here the chaos is being made more orderly.
"White showed in the smoothed-out crow's feet" of her father. In Thanatos
Syndrome there is the same image which is linked to birds flying and
earlier in this book we also have birds swooping.
I loved the end of page 113 where Will confesses he tends to fall down and
she says I tend to pick things up. This so charmingly evidences how each
one will be the perfect fit for the other.
The sunlight glints on Will's forehead and his hair. Sun reflects off of
objects throughout the Percy novels.
I asked Jay Tolson about this and he gave me a lovely response:
...The light reflections? Hard to determine authorial intent, but
reflected light suggests soul to me. That it is reflected means that the
soul is dependent on the source of that light. Whether Percy intended it
or not, was aware of it or not, the fact is that these reflected lights are
everywhere, speaking to us at a subliminal level, suggests that Percy was
showing that we are not autonomous creatures but dependent on the source of
Then I read Brian Jobe's essay in the book from Loyola's celebration of
the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of The Moviegoer, and wrote
this to Dr. Jobe about his essay:
...[You say] There is a mention of clearing which is lichtung which is
important to Heidegger because of the word's connections to licht, light as
in light of the sun, and liecht, as in lightness or weightlessness, and
lichten as in lifting of fog or darkness.
This goes on and the paragraph ends in how it provides illumination for the
The clearing of Heidegger is a State of Being that has become illuminated,
[you say] here. This paragraph connected a lot of dots for me.
I also loved that in this essay Jobe says that "Percy will recreate this
sense of the clearing at the end of all of his works".
This validates the way I read the way Percy ends his novels.
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