320–Silence!

Heather

Mother, knitter, spinner, writer, wife, weaver, host...not necessarily in that order...

4 Responses

  1. Gemma says:

    Newland’s response to the tutor in this episode reminds me of nothing so much as a midlife crisis. He’s settled down and made his decision, but he finds this glamour in the man who has rejected a stable career and home life in pursuit of artistic integrity. It reminds me very strongly of people I have met who, despite having lovely families, homes and jobs that give them everything they need, still have a hankering to be a rock star. They seem to forget the discomfort that such an effort entails (living on a bus, never getting a full night’s sleep, damage to relationships, the risk of it all disappearing tomorrow through poor PR, unscrupulous management or the fickleness of public opinion) amid the allure of the road not taken. I think something similar is true of Newland. It’s easy to see the tutor’s poverty as a stand for artistic freedom when it’s not you that’s sleeping on a hard bed in a draughty garret and having to choose between heating and eating. Newland could have taken this route–he could have gone his own way and alienated the family and New York circle that he professes to despise, but he didn’t. To do such a thing takes an awful lot of courage, for sure, but it wouldn’t have been impossible. What we see as our constraints are quite often our supports as well. I think Sneezewort hit the nail on the head when she talks about Newland taking the path of least resistance. We see eccentrics who have broken out in the book, such as Midora and the stentorian doctor (whose name escapes me), and it’s interesting that Newland seems to despise them, when lp he’s so drawn to Ellen. Is it just that Ellen is young and pretty (and potentially available for a liaison without marital expectations)?

    • Heather says:

      I think you’re dead on–and you’ll see more of that in this week’s episode (322), but I think the tragedy is that he’s having a midlife crisis in his 20s.

      I don’t think he despises Midora as much as feels sad for her (he certainly doesn’t much go for Dr. Agathon Carver). The way Wharton describes Midora always leaves ME feeling sad, anyway. But I absolutely agree that the Bohemian life of a poet looks a lot more fun on the outside than it does from inside a cold-water flat…and perhaps that’s what Newland gets, too, albeit subconsciously.

      I think his conversations with Winsett are also telling because they always seem to end in an awkward silence, in the recognition of the huge gulf between the two which is caused by money.

      And, boy, I think you said it very poetically–What we see as our constraints are quite often our supports as well.

      Winsett would adore you!
      ; )

  2. Juliana says:

    Heather mentioned the appropriateness of Martin Scorsese following up a mob film with “The Age of Innocence.” Newland’s comment about May working down the corners that he most wants to keep sharp, I suddenly flashed back to “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and society as the Combine. Chief Broom’s illustration of rusting cars ramming into a brick wall until they disintegrate has always haunted me!