[percy-l] slow read of The Second Coming
rhonda_mcdonnell at msn.com
Sun Jul 17 01:26:36 EDT 2016
Great kick off Jim!!
I agree about the golf courses. Additionally, golf courses seem representative of a "new" South for Percy. Consider the Vaughts, embodiment of the new South, live on a golf course. In this sequel the golf course is the sort of non-place Percy sees the South as having become, spun loose from history. Will, however, in falling onto the golf course reconnects to the actual land, and thereby begins the process of connecting to his memories. Lying at the heart of those memories is suicide, an impulse that continues to haunt him.
Allie is juxtaposed with him, as she remembers almost nothing.
On an unrelated note, what do you all make of her androgyny? The boyish haircut and clothes?
Good to see a bit of life on the list!
Sent from my iPhone
On Jul 16, 2016, at 9:17 AM, Jim Forest <jhforest at gmail.com<mailto:jhforest at gmail.com>> wrote:
Just to put a toe in the water in our so-far-silent discussion of "The Second Coming":
We start on a golf course. For Walker Percy, golf courses serve as symbols of an affluent life that has lost an interest in what Percy called "the search" in "The Moviegoer," his first novel.
When Will Barrett falls on the green and sees the world upside down, he focuses on an apocalyptic cumulous cloud that makes him think of Hiroshima.
And then it crosses his mind to shoot himself.
Suicide is one of the novel's core issues.
Will is amazed at the lengths people will go to hide from themselves the fact that their lives are farcical. They play golf, drink, converse, laugh, attend church services, crack jokes and "deceive themselves into believing that things are going well."
By the yardstick of his fellow golfers, Will is as nutty as a fruitcake, though it's a condition readily forgiven as Will, owner of the local mountain, is on top of the money pile.
Lying on the fairway, Will becomes hyper-alert, aware that -- at least at certain moments -- the brain forgets nothing: the smell of chalk dust, the feel of hot corduroy, etc -- it's all there. Will remembers a wedge-shaped patch of weeds and Ethel Rosenblum in her cheerleader uniform, a girl he wanted so badly he fell down. An earlier fall. In Second Coming, falling is an important state to be in.
What would life have been like, Will wonders, with Ethel Rosenblum? "Would he have been better off?" Would he be thinking about shooting himself in the head?
All is not well with Will.
-- Jim Forest
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Saint Nicholas and the Nine Gold Coins:
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