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Old 05-16-2019, 05:21 PM   #27
Catlady
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fantasyfan View Post
This point is well taken and quite difficult, if possible at all, to refute. I suppose this is the problem of any of those stories that work on the principle of changing history by eliminating a particular person. For instance, for me to exist I need every bit of DNA provided by all of my ancestors. Eliminate any one of them and I as a specific DNA construct no longer exist.

So why not kill any of the earlier ancestors? Well, the effect would be far less predictable (and it wouldn’t be as good a story).

Gaiman is also working with the idea of the prophecy that must be fulfilled when it is made. The assumption is that Time is a unity and our experience of it in terms of past/present/future an illusion. Thus, the fact that Jack kills the family members in the order he does is part of the pattern and inevitable. The prophecy is made and in a sense has already happened. Another interesting variation on this can be seen in Asimov’s The End of Eternity and “The Red Queen’s Race”. Philosophically this raises questions about the nature of free will and determinism but it can deepen a story.

On another level, I very much enjoyed the use of different dimensions and forms of reality that Gaiman plays with. The world is shown to be far more complex than the Jacks imagined.
My issue is that Gaiman doesn't deal with any of this philosphical terrain. He just ignores it. I'm easy; I just want some kind of acknowledgment that the author sees the problem--say a paragraph or two about previous thwarted attempts to wipe out the line, or this specific family. That he didn't do it makes me infer that he didn't see the problem himself, and/or that he didn't respect the reader enough to create a plausible scenario to solve the problem.


Quote:
Originally Posted by fantasyfan View Post
One of the great things about Catlady’s points is that they make me think.

I’m not completely happy with the idea of the “inevitable prophecy” as a way of handling the problem of why Jack leaves the toddler to last. I think that Jack’s own personality has something to do with it. He regards murder as a kind of art form and I believe that in his pride he decides to start with the parents first because they are the source. He then goes to the daughter and finally to the son. Thus, I think he likes the inverse progression of murder as aesthetically satisfying.

There are other examples of Jack’s sense of pride—a kind of hubris that destroys him in the end. We see it especially in that final scene where Bod kneels on the altar to be the sacrifice that Jack believes will lead to his triumph.
Why should we have to make up scenarios to account for Jack's method, though? If it's hubris, or Jack warming up for the main event, why not indicate it in the opening scene; it adds to the menace.

Another way this leaving the baby till last could have been easily fixed: the father woke up and heard the intruder, leading to Jack having to kill him and the other family members first. Easy-peasy for the author to do. (It's also crazy that the baby is so far away from the rest of the family in the first place--who puts the most vulnerable, most needy member of the family farthest away from the parents?)

I had the same kinds of objections to Never Let Me Go--details are glossed over, and I want them recognized and accounted for. I will accept even an outlandish explanation, but I want to know that the author saw the problem and respected the reader enough to create a fix.

And there's still no plausible reason for the triple homicide and missing child to have been hushed up. In terms of the story, so what if Scarlett's newspaper search had turned up headlines splashed on the front pages? She could still have been taken in by Jack's claim of having found additional information. But since Gaiman made it something secret, I think it's his duty to the reader to explain why.

Speaking of Scarlett, I sympathize completely with her horror of what Bod became. I too think he turned monstrous and unsympathetic. It was hard to recognize the character at the end as the same one who had wanted to create a special headstone for his friend.
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