[percy-l] Comments on the next assigned pages of the slow read of The Second Coming

janetcantor37 at yahoo.com janetcantor37 at yahoo.com
Thu Jul 28 20:05:18 EDT 2016

Now we pick up more pieces. Percy likes to give us things that seem outside the story but they will all be put together in the end. 
It always strikes me that Percy characters have a bit of madness or goofiness in them when they are inside their own heads. Yet Will Barrett has a real life with friends and associates who seem to respect him. They celebrated him as Man of the Year. There is always this incongruity between Percy's protagonists' real lives and inner lives. Will has golf buddies and knows the etiquette of the game. In a good quote from the top of Page 46 Bill says unlike sin in life, in golf retribution is instantaneous. This will be a metaphor repeated, how golf and the Southern way of religion and life has replaced true faith. Then there's the sighting of that hawk again with its precision in the dive. What does it signify?His uncharacteristic slicing of the ball has him worried. Dr. Vance Battle, the happiest man Will knows, suspects something is happening to Will, besides problems with his prostate. His daughter is getting married. Could this be causing part of Will's disintegration?  
On page 49 there is an opening to a cave, mysteriously discovered. There is an opening that lets you disappear into it once used by Confederate soldiers to hide in.
 He remembers his father teaching him about guns when he was a boy, trying also to teach him something about life, and then shooting himself. Some questions he has avoided since the incident about the shells of the rifle and his cheek being grazed come to his memory. His father was trying to warn him. Does knowing mean he can avoid the same fate?
Back to the present. Arabs are coming. What about the Jews? What does it signify that the Jews are leaving? Jimmie Rogers introduced on page 46 as an old conman from the campus, who once saved Will, may be saving him again from something, he knows not what. And there's that darn hawk again signifying what?
Readying himself for a golf shot in the woods a shadow seems to appear behind a tree. Images of light and darkness, sun and a disappearing dark figure recapitulate a frequent theme in Percy. Light reflections show up often. This will be taken up later.As Will chases the shadowy figure he comes upon a greenhouse as big as an ark. (Refuge from a storm?)A lad, no, a woman, returned two of his golf balls to Will. One had broken a window of her greenhouse.
He is wondering if she is familiar to him, this peculiar creature; then he relates in a marvelous fragment of a sentence, typical of Percy, drawing together many images, just as the reader is trying to make sense of all he has read so far of all of this:
"...because all at once he became aware of himself as she saw him, of his golf clothes, beltless slacks, blue nylon shirt with the club crest, gold cap with club crest, two tone golf shoes with the fringed forward-falling tongues, and suddenly it was he not she who was odd in this silent forest, he with his little iron club and nifty fingerless glove."
Another good couple of sentences - more consolidations, come soon after:
"...what a nutty world, she zonked out on something, reading Rafael Sabatini and holed up alone in a ruined greenhouse, while grown middle-aged men socked little balls around a mountain meadow and hummed along in electric carts telling jokes about Jews and Germans and niggers. Atlanta and Carolina invaded by Arabs. No wonder my father wanted out."
Where is reality, normalcy and where is strangeness?
As he returned things were beginning to fall into place and suddenly he remembered everything. What that is we will learn in the pages to come.
Phrases and things I liked in this part of the reading:
1. Page 46 - "...happy as a vet with his fist up a cow..."
2. Page 51 -  the sounds of the cicadas which seemed to come from the pines and from the inside of one's head -  and - the golf carts whose canopies he could see through the trees one behind the other moving as silently as sails. 
3. "War is not a change, but a poor attempt to make a change."
4. Page 75 - "Never hit a golf ball or a child in anger..."
5. The book Allison is reading is Captain Blood by Sabatini and the protagonist is described as someone born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad. That works as a description of Walker Percy and perhaps of Will Barrett as well.

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