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Old 12-17-2019, 07:48 PM   #61
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Oh dear. I fear that your knowledge of my background has influenced how you interpret my comments.

(Sorry, it seemed like an opportunity too good to resist.)
Touché
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Old 12-17-2019, 08:31 PM   #62
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I see Bendrix as a mix of good and bad. As Victoria has said, we learn through Sarah's diary that he had been injured trying to protect another person from a falling wall. He is a bully in his dealings with her, but was probably bullied as a child because of his limp. He had worked as an air raid warden - possibly how he had received the injury to his shoulder.
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Old 12-17-2019, 09:05 PM   #63
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On Sarah: perhaps saying a subconscious wish to commit suicide was too strong. But I think she was so wretched that she really didn't care whether she lived or died, and so went out into the rain to avoid Bendrix, which someone with a livelier sense of self-preservation wouldn't have done.

But then she would have got the doctor in sooner too if she wanted to survive. The doctor was quoted as saying that he could have saved her with penicillin if he had been called in a week earlier. She knew she was ill, but was indifferent to her fate.
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Old 12-17-2019, 10:18 PM   #64
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I see Bendrix as a mix of good and bad. As Victoria has said, we learn through Sarah's diary that he had been injured trying to protect another person from a falling wall. He is a bully in his dealings with her, but was probably bullied as a child because of his limp. He had worked as an air raid warden - possibly how he had received the injury to his shoulder.
The way I feel about Bendrix, I think he just happened to get in the way of a falling wall and accidentally saved someone. (I'm not even sure how much I am joking when I say that.) But, in book five we have Bendrix watching the priest (while discussing whether Sarah is Catholic), and we get this paragraph:
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‘It isn’t necessary. I said one this morning.’ He [the priest] made a movement with his hands in his lap, the first break in his rigidity: it was like watching a strong wall shift and lean after a bomb had fallen. ‘I shall remember her every day in my Mass,’ he said.
and I wondered if this observation was related to the event that gave Bendrix the scar.

Last edited by gmw; 12-17-2019 at 10:25 PM. Reason: book five not chapter five.
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Old 12-17-2019, 10:47 PM   #65
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I'm starting to feel sorry for Bendrix! He could have avoided being an air raid warden, pleading his lameness. On the other hand, it was a good opportunity for him to order people about perhaps!

(I am reminded of the bossy and officious warden in "Dad's Army" - a somewhat incongruous comparison I know, but just considering the potential for making him feel in a position of authority, which he may never have had before.)

I read Bendrix as having very low self-esteem, perhaps because of his physical disability and what that might have done to him in the brutal world of the schoolyard. People who are well-balanced and have a healthy self-esteem don't eat themselves up in hating other people. They may be angry or hurt or otherwise upset by another person, but then they get over it.
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Old 12-17-2019, 11:40 PM   #66
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We might console ourselves, perhaps, that maybe Bendrix was a perfectly pleasant and reasonable chap until the wall fell on him, leaving him with a scar on his shoulder and a brain injury affecting his mood. Such things can happen.
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Old 12-18-2019, 10:18 AM   #67
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and I wondered if this observation was related to the event that gave Bendrix the scar.
Oh, nicely spotted! I didn't catch that and it's an example of why I find the prose in this book so compelling.

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I read Bendrix as having very low self-esteem, perhaps because of his physical disability and what that might have done to him in the brutal world of the schoolyard. People who are well-balanced and have a healthy self-esteem don't eat themselves up in hating other people. They may be angry or hurt or otherwise upset by another person, but then they get over it.
I can't remember what we know of Maurice's backstory, but he seems alone in the world. He's well into his thirties, lives in a room where his books (and he's a writer) have to go under his bed, never married and so on. I can understand him as being overly and unhealthily protective of his great love and lashing out as he lost it.
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Old 12-18-2019, 10:46 AM   #68
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I can't remember what we know of Maurice's backstory, but he seems alone in the world. He's well into his thirties, lives in a room where his books (and he's a writer) have to go under his bed, never married and so on. I can understand him as being overly and unhealthily protective of his great love and lashing out as he lost it.
The way you phrased this statement reminded me of this paragraph in the opening pages. How sad.

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It was strange to see Henry out on such a night: he liked his comfort and after all—or so I thought—he had Sarah. To me comfort is like the wrong memory at the wrong place or time: if one is lonely one prefers discomfort. There was too much comfort even in the bed sitting-room I had at the wrong—the south—side of the Common, in the relics of other people’s furniture.
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Old 12-18-2019, 04:29 PM   #69
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That is a sad paragraph. I suppose one could say that he lives in a room in a boarding house because he’s a writer, which rarely makes people very well off. However, he had a book turned into a film, which should have brought in some money, and presumably means he was reasonably well known and successful. And he can afford to eat out at restaurants with Sarah, so he isn’t broke.
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Old 12-18-2019, 06:43 PM   #70
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The way you phrased this statement reminded me of this paragraph in the opening pages. How sad.
I remember being struck by this quotation at the time, and it smacks of ex post justification to me, or Maurice's trying to put a spin of sorts on a dreary situation. It does contrast with Henry and Sarah's situation, a freehold house with lots of room, which could be an implied reason behind Sarah's marriage in the first place. What were her options?
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Old 12-18-2019, 06:55 PM   #71
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[...] It does contrast with Henry and Sarah's situation, a freehold house with lots of room, which could be an implied reason behind Sarah's marriage in the first place. What were her options?
That line of thought matches what I was thinking about Sarah's grasping mother - that perhaps this (along with Sarah not remembering being attracted to Henry) is all set up to hint that Sarah's match to Henry was based mostly (from Sarah's side) on Henry's secure economic situation.
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Old 12-18-2019, 09:27 PM   #72
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I think it could well have been. It would also be an escape from her mother and the endless round of men (all mean), some of whom might have been getting interested in Sarah as she grew up and became so beautiful. Henry at least would provide some stability in her life.
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Old 12-19-2019, 04:49 PM   #73
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The way you phrased this statement reminded me of this paragraph in the opening pages. How sad.
Thanks for the reminder Bookworm_Girl. Looking back, I’d say that paragraph set the tone for the whole book; so much of it was sad, really.
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Old 12-20-2019, 12:38 AM   #74
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Thanks for the reminder Bookworm_Girl. Looking back, I’d say that paragraph set the tone for the whole book; so much of it was sad, really.
I have been re-reading parts of the book. I was looking at the organizational structure of the book, and he seems to emphasize his points at the beginning and end of the different parts. The diary section was especially interesting because it comes full circle by having a repetitious beginning/end. These are the types of things that you don't notice when you are listening to a book.
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Old 12-20-2019, 10:03 AM   #75
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Oh, I noticed the repetition all right , I just didn't like it. It feels like a beginner's mistake. Of course, Greene is no beginner by this time so we know the repetition is intentional, but - for me - it still reads like a poorly edited YA romance.

There is a really good chance that my reaction might be because it touches on two subjects I find particularly contentious: adultery and religion. I sort of like the idea of combining the two, but for a different reason to Greene, so I was probably never going to like this.
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