[percy-l] A slow reading of The Second Coming

Nancy Forest-Flier forestflier at gmail.com
Fri Jul 22 13:50:36 EDT 2016

Into the third chapter of *The Second Coming*, and I’ve made an interesting
discovery I’d like to share. Part 1 of chapter 3 is Will’s recollection of
the Thomasville hunting incident when Will was a twelve-year-old boy. After
the shots are fired, and Will finds himself alone and slightly injured,
trying to figure out what exactly happened and where his father is, he says
to himself, “Then, without knowing how he knew, he knew that he was *free
to act* in his own good time. (How did he know such a thing?)” And on the
next page, after Will finds his injured father, he says. “Why is it, he
wondered, that I have all the time in the world to figure out what to do
and the freedom to do it and that what is more I will do it? ... This is a
problem and problems are for solving. All you need to do anything is time
to do it, being let alone long enough to do it and a center to do it from.
He had found his center.”

The key word here is “freedom.” In the previous chapter, when Allison is
reading the note she wrote to herself before escaping from the asylum, she
reads, “There is one thing you must not forget, or if you have forgotten,
be reminded of it here and now. It is the discovery I made last week (you
made? we made?). Do you remember? ... What was my (you, our) discovery?
That I could act. I was *free** to act*.”

“Free to act” is something both Allison and Will have somehow discovered
separately, and both of them understand it as a very important discovery.
“How did he know such a thing?” How do we know we are free to act? Where
does this knowledge come from?

And, as I continue reading, am I going to find out?


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