The Stand Chapter 12

Well, shit. I had this entire post already written and was just coming on here today to edit it. Unfortunately, WordPress has decided to eat it.

This chapter is going to take me longer than usual to grind out. Apologies.

I have been looking forward to this chapter for some time.  This chapter does not exist in the original edition of The Stand, and was something Stephen King really didn’t want to take out.

Is it a good thing for him to have put back in? Well, that depends. Normally I’m the type of person who loves more content and hates edited editions.

However, I’m going to have to go with King’s original edition on this. The scene where Fran tells her mother that she’s pregnant isn’t really necessary to the overall plot of the book. It advances character development for people who we’re never going to see again, and it just drags out the story.

With that out of the way, let us begin.

The chapter starts with Frannie Goldsmith comparing her mother’s favorite room, the parlor, to her father’s favorite room, his workshop. This goes on for like, 10 pages.

You know, even if King did want to include Fran’s argument with her mother, he still could’ve taken out a lot of this and we would have lost nothing.

We get another few pages of description of the grandfather clock, which sounds like a really cool clock but Fran hates it, mostly because it’s in the parlor and her mom really likes it. Get over it Frannie, that’s an awesome clock. Jeez.

Then we get a list of Fran’s memories of her mother, and things start getting a little more relevant.

Someone built a gas station that was visible from the parlor window, and Fran’s mom, Carla, begged her husband to do something about it, so he planted a hedge. Carla then nagged him to do something to make the hedge grow faster.

More descriptions of the parlor. I don’t care.

It was in the parlor that her mother had talked to her after she caught Frannie and Normal examining each other in the barn. How would she like it, Carla asked as the grandfather clock solemnly ticked off segments of time in a dry age, if she took Frannie out for a walk up and down US Route 1 without any clothes on? Frannie, then 6, had cried.

This is a sadly realistic reaction to a very normal childhood development. It is also comparable to Alice’s reaction to her son Larry writing a naughty word. In that case, she actually did write the word on his forehead and take him down a busy street where lots of people saw him.

Both these punishments are horrible, but you could argue that at least Carla didn’t actually follow through with it. It’s a weak argument, though.

When Fran was 10 she had ridden her bike into the mailbox post while looking back over her shoulder to yell something to Georgette. She cut her head, bloodied her nose, lacerated both knees, and had actually grayed out for a few moments with shock.

What were mailbox posts like in the 1960s? I don’t remember even being able to ride my bike into mine.

Fran’s father was at work, so Fran went to her mother after this incident. Her mother was in the parlor serving tea to Mrs. V and Mrs. P.

“Get out!” Her mother had screamed, and the next moment she was running to Frannie, embracing her, crying “Oh Frannie, oh dear, what happened, oh your poor nose!” But she was leading Frannie back into the kitchen, where the floor could safely be bled upon. And even as she was comforting her, and Frannie never forgot that her first two words that day hadn’t been “oh Frannie” but “Get out!”

Her first concern had been for the parlor. Perhaps Mrs. P never forgot either, because even through her tears Frannie had seen a shocked, slapped expression cross the woman’s face. Mrs. P had become something of a seldom visitor after that.

House guests do pick up on these things more than people would hope. When someone cares more about the carpet than the fact that their child is badly injured, that says a lot about a person’s character.

In fact, let’s talk for a little bit about Carla Goldsmith’s character. Yes, she’s a terrible mother. Yes, she’s a terrible person. There is not one redeeming thing I can think of to say about Carla Goldsmith.

And that’s a problem. It’s a problem because people aren’t like this. People are a mixture of good and bad. Yes, my father was verbally and emotionally abusive to me all my life. Normally, if you interrupted my father while he was working, there was hell to pay. However, if I had walked in with an injury like this, he would’ve dropped everything and gotten me to a doctor. He absolutely was  more concerned with me and my well being than he was with his precious work, and his boss could suck his dick if he had a problem with that.

My father is an asshole, but he also loves me. I think a lot of us could say the same thing about our parents.

Look at Larry’s mother, Alice. Yes, she’s emotionally manipulative and abusive. But she also loves her son. She may have different ways of showing it (buying Larry’s favorite foods vs saying “I love you”), but she clearly does love her child even though she also kind of hates him.

Frankly, I’m a little surprised to see such a non nuanced character in a Stephen King novel. Most of his characters are well rounded individuals. Even the people who wind up becoming the villains of the book get more character development than this.

Which, in my opinion, is another reason this confrontation should have been kept out. Carla Goldsmith isn’t a person, she’s a cardboard cutout character of the mean mother stereotype.

And it only gets worse from here.

When Fran tells Carla she’s pregnant, Carla asks “How did this happen?”

Which, as a first reaction, isn’t terribly out of line.

It was Jesse’s question. That was what really pissed her off. It was the same question he had asked.

Yes. How dare your boyfriend and your mother ask how you got pregnant. You especially shouldn’t be mad at Jesse about this, because, he knew you were on birth control. Unfortunately, most men assume that birth control has a 100% success rate. I suspect what Jesse and Carla actually mean is “how did your birth control not work?” Actually, that may be what Jesse was thinking. Given what Carla later says, she may be thinking something like, “how did you go against your Christian training?”

Fran snarkily replies that Carla, having had 2 kids already, knows damn well how Fran got pregnant. Naturally, Carla finds this upsetting, but her reaction is, frankly, over the top.

“How could you do something like this to your father and me? Was it that boy Jesse?….How could you do it? We did our best to bring you up in the right way. This is just…just…” She put her hands to her face and began to weep…..”How could you do it? After all we’ve done for you, this is the thanks we get? For you to go out and…and…rut with a boy like a bitch in heat? You bad girl! You bad girl!”

She dissolved into sobs.

Fran’s father, a few chapters ago, told us that Carla was the way she was because Freddie’s death made her stop growing as a person. That Carla’s values were….locked in an older time. However, I’m not seeing this. What I am seeing is probably not altogether different from how this still happens in Christian families.

Carla goes on like this for a while, until Fran has had enough and gets up to leave. Alas, she is so upset she trips over her own foot, lands on the coffee table, and accidentally knocks over a vase, which spills water onto the carpet.

Carla then proceeds to get upset about the carpet. Fran opens her mouth to tell her mother that it’s just water, but, having just hit her head, she is confused and disoriented.

Carla then tells Fran that she is kicking her out. She doesn’t want a pregnant daughter, because what will the neighbors think?

Fran tells her mother that she doesn’t want to stay here, to which Carla responds “where are you going to go?”

So wait, does Carla want Fran to leave, or doesn’t she? She seems rather contradictory, here. She wants Fran to leave, but she also wants Fran to beg to stay. When Frannie doesn’t do this, Carla throws a fit.

I’ve never been pregnant. Any of my ex SDA friends want to chime in and tell me if this is how their parents reacted when they got pregnant? I have a feeling a lot of this confrontation is realistic, but there are some parts that make me scratch my head.

Fran tells her mother she might go live with some friends, and that where she ends up going is none of her business.

“No business of mine? no business of mine? What you do when you’re under my roof is no business of mine? You ungrateful little bitch!”

Technically, Fran and Jesse did it on the beach. Also, if she moves out, she’s not under your roof anymore, so yeah, what business is it of yours?

She slapped Frannie, and slapped her hard.

Carla rants for a while about how Fran will have to quit school and marry Jesse. When Fran says that she isn’t going to do any of those things, Carla thinks Fran means she is having an abortion, and gets even more upset.

So, to recap:

  1. Carla doesn’t want Fran to have an abortion, because ZOMG you want to be a murderer too?!?!?!?!?
  2. Carla doesn’t want Fran to be pregnant

Has Carla realized that she can’t have both these things at the same time? I mean yes, ideally Fran wouldn’t be pregnant. But the pregnancy is here now, so it’s a little too late for that. Carla is still stuck on “ideal situation” mode even though the time for that is long past, and frankly, there’s no way Fran can win, here. She can’t make herself unpregnant without an abortion, even if that was what she wanted.

Though Clara is being contradictory, I do not find this an unrealistic reaction. That’s sad, but that’s how it is in a lot of Christian families.

“I’m going to have the child. I’ll have to take the spring semester off, but I can finish next summer.”

That’s a big assumption. I think you’ll find babies are too much work for that, unless you have a helluva lot of money and support.

Carla informs Frannie that she is not going to pay for her to finish school, and that she will not get any of her money. Carla goes on for a bit about how heartbroken Fran’s father will be, which of course is Fran’s father’s cue to finally show up. Apparently he has some kind of 6th sense, because he switched shifts with someone just so he could be here for this.

“Fran’s already told me, Carla. We are going to be grandparents.”

“Grandparents!” She shrieked. “You leave this to me. She told you first and you kept it from me. All right. It’s what I’ve come to expect of you. But now I’m going to close the door and the two of us are going to thrash this out.”

I don’t blame Carla for being upset that Fran told Pete first and then waited a few days. However, if I were Carla, my upsetness would have more to do with the fact that my child didn’t trust me enough to come to me first, and then I would sit there and try to figure out why. Because at that point, clearly I have done something to shatter my child’s trust.

But Carla isn’t me, and doesn’t react that way at all. Carla tries to shut Peter Goldsmith out of the parlor. Peter tries to prevent Carla from shutting the door on him.  Carla tries to ram into him with her head, Peter just tries to ignore her and keep her from shutting him out of the room. When Peter Goldsmith is unable to budge Carla, he slaps her.

All the fight goes out of Carla. Peter immediately apologizes–sort of.

“You have had that coming for 10 years or better. I always told myself I didn’t do it because I don’t hold with hitting women. I still don’t. But when a person–man or woman–turns into a dog and begins to bite, someone has to shy it off. I only wish, Carla, I’d had the guts to do it sooner. ‘Twould have hurt both of us less.”

I don’t actually have much of a problem with Peter slapping Carla. At this point, it was in self defense. However, to say that she’s had that coming, that she deserved it… yes Peter should have stood up to Carla before. Yes Carla probably did deserve to be hit. However, hitting her isn’t necessary in order for Peter to stand up to his wife.

Violence should be the last resort, not the answer. And so, while I have a hard time faulting him for slapping her in this situation, I also have a hard time with allowing the character to justify it to himself.

Peter then gives Carla a lecture on how selfish she’s being, about how she stopped caring about Fran after Fred died because not caring was safer. Yet Carla does care– about what other people will think of her.

“It’s my fault for letting you go on. For not wanting any unpleasantness. For not wanting to rock the boat. I was selfish, too, you see. And when Fran went off to school I thought, well, now Carla can have what she wants and it wont’ hurt nobody but herself, and if a person doesn’t know they’re hurting, why, maybe they’re not. I was wrong. I’ve been wrong before, but never as bad as this.”

Peter gets points for admitting this. Yes, he was wrong not to stand up for Fran before. Yes, he should have said or done something a longass time ago. But at least he’s able to admit that, and I think that speaks to his character.

“Now, I am telling you this as your husband. If Frannie needs a place to stay, this can be the place–same as it always was. If she needs money, she can have it from my purse–same as she always could. And if she decides to keep her baby, you will see that she has a proper baby shower….. I’ll tell you one more thing, too. If she wants it christened, it will be done right here. Right here in this goddamned parlor.”

It almost sounds like Pete thinks he can do this because he is Carla’s husband. It would have come across better if he’d said something like, “Fran is my daughter, too, and this is my house, too.” And in any case, he can’t make Carla plan the baby shower.

Carla protests that the baby can’t be christened in the parlor, because that’s where Fred’s casket lay. Peter responds that he can’t think of a better reason to celebrate new life there.

He tells Carla that it’s way too late for Fred, but it’s not too late for Frannie and her child. He tells Carla she can drive them off if she wants to, but he won’t let her, and even if he did let her succeed, Carla would have nothing but the house, the parlor, and a husband who hated her.

Peter then helps Carla up the stairs to the bedroom, with Carla ranting the whole time about how Fran may as well just destroy everything in the parlor.

Peter comes back down and reassures Fran that her mother will come around. Fran disagrees, and says she should leave. Peter says she should stay, because he wants her to stay, and he’s pretty sure her mother will too–eventually.

The chapter ends with Frannie crying on her father’s shoulder about how sorry she is, and her father telling her to hush.

I know that Stephen King did not take this confrontation out of the original edition because he wanted to. I know he took it out because of printing costs. However, I think that, if he really wanted readers to be able to enjoy them, it would have been all too easy to just make the deleted scenes available on the internet for free and not redo the entire book. Or perhaps I am just salty because it is difficult to get a copy of the original edition, as it is now out of print, and I absolutely cannot get a kindle copy of it.

I’ll try to get another post up sometime next week, whether it be The Shack or The Stand. Writing has gotten difficult lately, partly because of depression and partly because…. well, that’s another post entirely. I’ll get there, though, eventually.

 

The Shack Chapter 10

I promise I will start posting more regularly. This is a promise I make to myself as much as to you guys, since it really helps me to just write stuff out. Sometimes I even write one page flash fiction stories. But those stories don’t get posted on this blog, for reasons I do not wish to discuss.

I was going to do another Stand post tonight, but I am really in the mood to tear into something awful, so, let’s progress with The Shack.

WADE IN THE WATER

We last left off with our protagonist, Mack, finishing up a conversation with Sarayu, the Holy Spirit. She has just told Mack that children do not have the right to be protected. Not only that, nobody has the right to be protected, and that abused people like to whine about their rights instead of put in the work it would take to fix the relationships with their abuser.

This is the book that the publishers want distributed to battered women’s shelters across America. I’m not even remotely kidding. Look up “The Missy Project.”

This chapter is about Mack having (yet another) conversation with Jesus. Because there hasn’t been enough of those lately.

Mack enters Jesus’ workshop and sees “what looks like a casket” on Jesus’ worktable.

Foreshadow, CLUNK!

Jesus tells Mack that the coffin is a special project for tomorrow, and Mack asks Jesus why they keep talking about tomorrow, like it’s something special.

I’d like to remind you all that, in the very rambly prologue, Mack’s friend Willie went on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on about how SO. VERY. INTELLIGENT Mack is!

But here, Mack looks like he is either stubbornly refusing to put 2 and 2 together, or like he is really really dense. Either way, it doesn’t exactly demonstrate his superior intellect.

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: Willie is the unreliable narrator.

Jesus tells Mack that tomorrow is a big day, then changes the subject to going for a boat ride on the lake. But it’s worded so badly that it seems like Jesus is saying they will go for a boat ride tomorrow rather than right this second.

Mack assumed they would be taking one of the canoes nestled against the dock pylons…reaching the end of the dock, Jesus turned to Mack and said, “after you.”

Yup, that’s right. Jesus is seriously about to let Mack walk on water with him. I have to admit, this is kind of cool. It’s fun to read about, makes for an interesting movie trailer, and must have been fun to write. In fact, if you took out almost all of the dialogue, this chapter would be perfect.

Mack is a little slow on the uptake. He tells Jesus he’s not really up for a swim.

After Jesus reassures both Mack and the reader that Mack is a really great swimmer, that Mack was even a lifeguard, and a bunch of other unnecessary details that could have been cut out… because we can’t have our audience thinking Mack doesn’t know how to swim. That would be unacceptable, I guess.

Finally Mack grasps what Jesus is saying.

“You’re a quick one, Mack.” Said Jesus. “Nobody’s gonna slide anything past you, that’s for sure.”

You just showed us Mack being slow on the uptake. So either you are presenting Snarky!Jesus (a valid authorial choice) or you are presenting Jesus as the unreliable narrator. (Not a great authorial choice considering your target audience.)

As a Christian, you know you’ve fucked up if you’ve written your god as the unreliable narrator.

But actually, most Christians believe that Jesus is actually incapable of lying, because when he says something, it comes true. So if Jesus says Mack is quick on the uptake, behold, Mack is quick on the uptake.

Unfortunately, the author acts as though that’s how writing works, too. Jesus said Mack was a quick learner, therefore Mack is a quick learner, despite the fact that this has just been demonstrated not to be true.

I actually don’t mind the rest of this scene so much.

How do you step off a dock onto water? Do you jump as if you are landing on concrete or do you step over the edge as if you are getting out of a boat? He looked back at Jesus, who was still chuckling.

Mack is way overthinking this. It’s probably just like stepping off a dock onto ground, if there was ground to step on.

“Will my feet get wet?” queried Mack.

“Of course, water is still wet.”

I would love for someone to rewrite this book with Snarky!Jesus. That would be awesome.

Anyway, Mack is afraid to step out onto the water, but he doesn’t know why. Even *I* know that it would be very hard to trust that I wouldn’t sink, even if I was around people who had previously demonstrated supernatural powers. It’s this little thing humans developed called “self preservation.” We don’t tend to trust people who tell us they can break the laws of physics.”

Jesus and Mack talk for a bit about how scared Mack is, about how powerful the imagination is… how Mack likes to live in the present…..

Then Jesus tells Mack to relax, because this isn’t like, a test or something, jeez!

Someone should rewrite an entire gospel with Snarky!Jesus. I bet it’d be brilliant and you’d sell millions of copies and be able to go on the Christian speaking circuit and make millions. Huh. *I* should write this.

You know, I was expecting this conversation to be about Mack’s trust issues with Jesus. Not this weird conversation about imagination and living in the present and future and past and you know what let’s just move the fuck on because this is stupid.

When Mack and Jesus finally shut the fuck up, the scene is actually fairly decent. Mack is kinda disturbed by how not solid the water looks, so he fixes his gaze on the opposite shore and steps off the dock.

The landing was softer than he had thought it would be. His shoes were instantly wet, but the water did not come up even to his ankles. The lake was still moving all around him, and he almost lost his balance. It was strange. When he looked down, it seemed that his feet were on something solid but invisible.

This is good. This is done well. Or at least, it’s not horribly written, which for this book is an improvement.

Jesus is standing beside Mack, holding his shoes and socks in his hands.

“We always take off our shoes and socks before we do this.”

Yanno Jesus, the time to tell Mack this is before you tell him to step out onto the water, you douche.

Or maybe Jesus just thought this was too obvious to mention. Maybe he thought that because Mack was SO VERY INTELLIGENT, he would just think of it.

But Jesus knows everything, so that’s not an option. That’s why Jesus kind of sucks as a literary character. He’s all powerful and all knowing. Not much story can be created there because his all knowing and all powerfulness create large plotholes. I might write a whole post about that, actually. For now we kinda need to move on.

Other than a few minor things, this scene is fairly well done and well written. And if one was a Christian, how cool would it be to actually imagine yourself walking on water with Jesus? I like that the author did this and I wish he’d do more of it.

Jesus and Mack sit down on the opposite shore and…. talk some more.

You know, the book is much better when Jesus and Mack aren’t talking. You know what would make this book better? Have Jesus show Mack some more of his miracles. Have Jesus take out a cup of water, turn it into wine, and then enjoy a nice wine on the beach?

The author is at his best when he describes cool things God and Jesus and Sarayu can do. He is not so great at writing dialogue or theologies.

Jesus tells Mack that the planet is in terrible condition. It almost kinda sounds like Jesus is an environmentalist, which is surprising because most Christians hate environmentalism, and I’ve never understood why.

Mack asks Jesus why he doesn’t just fix the earth already if it’s that important.

“Because we gave it to you.”

“Can’t you take it back?”

“Of course we could, but then the story would end before it was consummated.”

Mack gave Jesus a blank look.

For once you and I agree, Mack. I have zero idea what the fuck Jesus is on about.

That’s also a really weird use of the world consummated. It’s probably technically correct, but to see it in this context is a little jolting. I’m sure a better word could have been used.

Jesus brings up the subject of freewill, and how he never forces humans to make certain choices.

“I’ve never taken control of your choices or forced you to do anything, even when what you were about to do was destructive or hurtful to others.”

Because the freewill of the abuser is somehow more important than the freewill of the victim. Even as a Christian I never understood this logic.

“To force my will on you,” Jesus replied. “Is exactly what love does not do. Genuine relationships are marked by submission even when your choices are not helpful or healthy.”

Oh this is so not the type of book I would ever want to distribute to a battered women’s shelter. Do the people who set these things up ever think about the implications of what they’re doing? Don’t they know that women have died because they tried to go back and submit to their abuser?

Jesus then goes on to talk about how he, Sarayu, and Papa all submit to each other. Which…. ok, so, you have an equal relationship. Why even bring submission into it, then? Because submission, by definition, is not equality.

Jesus even tries to argue that he submits to Mack just as much as Mack submits to him, which we all know is bullshit because the Bible is pretty clear on the idea of God and Jesus being authority figures and humans are supposed to submit wholly to God’s will. In fact, how do Christians not see this as some sort of blasphemy? Is it because it’s coming from one of their own? Is it because they want to like this book so badly that they are willing to overlook its inconsistencies?

Is the author trying to pander to the more liberal Christian audience by trying to paint our relationship with Jesus as mutual submission to each other, while then stating in the next few pages that we are to let Jesus live in us and make all our decisions?

Jesus then goes on to say that he doesn’t want slaves, but equals. Then he says this

“When I am in your life, submission is the most natural expression of my character and nature, and it will be the most natural expression of your new nature within relationships.”

He doesn’t want slaves, he wants submissives. Totally not the same thing.

“And all I wanted was a God who will just fix everything so no one gets hurt.” Mack shook his head at the realization.

Why is this unreasonable? It’s probably supposed to have been explained in the previous paragraphs about mutual submission in relationships, but it doesn’t seem related at all.

Mack says that he’s not good at relationship stuff, but Nan is. Jesus says that that makes sense, because men tend to find fulfillment in their achievements, while women tend to find it in relationships. Relationships are “more naturally [Nan’s] language.”

Ummmmm what? Seriously? We’re back to ridiculously rigid gender stereotypes? I thought God told Mack that this weekend was not about reinforcing stereotypes? Bad Jesus, bad!

Mack says that it’s difficult for him to love others because of Missy. Jesus says it’s not just Missy, it’s what happened in the garden of Eden.

“By choosing to declare what’s good and what’s evil, you seek to determine your own destiny. It was this turning that has caused you so much pain.”

Doesn’t this kinda contradict what Jesus said earlier about submission not actually being submissive? And heaven forbid humanity try to control their own destiny and use their brains to determine good and evil rather than have a deity do all their thinking for them. Yes, that is why the world is so messed up. Really.

Jesus then goes on to say–with very awkward phrasing…. well I’ll just let you read it.

“But that isn’t all. The woman’s desire–and the word is actually her turning–her turning was not to the works of her hands [like it is for men] but to the man, and his response was to rule “over” her, to take power over her, to become the ruler. Before the choosing, she found her identity, her security, and her understanding of good and evil only in me, as did man.”

I wonder if this is the author’s attempt to gloss over this verse in Genesis.

Genesis 3:16

To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

If you read the chapter in context, God is punishing Eve with this. It’s not that women, any women, ever actually turned to their husbands to find fulfillment, which created in the husbands a desire to rule their wives. It’s literally a punishment from God. If you read the verse after it, the man’s punishment is that he will work the ground with his hands.

None of this is stuff that just cropped up because of sin, this is something Jesus actually did to them because they ate a piece of fruit.

Again, how do Christians not see this as some sort of heresy? Well, I guess the more liberal ones might not, and good for them. The conservatives should absolutely be freaking the fuck out at this clear twisting of scripture.

Jesus says that the solution to all of this–the solution to men turning to “the work of their hands” (seriously, who talks like this?) and women turning to their husbands is to come back to Jesus.

“Women in general will find it difficult to turn from a man and stop demanding that he meet their needs, provide security, and protect their identity, and return to me.”

Actually, most women nowadays do not want their men to do any of these things. Yes there are certain needs that romantic partners could and should meet. But if you’re looking for a single man to meet all your needs, provide financial security, and your identity is tied up in a man….none of that is actually healthy.

Fortunately, none of this is what is usually found in relationships. I would venture a guess that most relationships are fairly healthy. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking, I don’t know.

But either way, if you have your identity wrapped up in Jesus, you still have your identity wrapped up in another man. Which is the very thing Jesus just said he wants to avoid….

In any case, Mack then says something that I’ve been wondering my entire fucking life.

“I’ve always wondered why men have been in charge. Males seem to be the cause of so much pain in the world. They account for most of the crimes and many of those are perpetrated against women and children.”

Or rather, I used to think this. I’m not sure what the actual statistics are, but I’d be willing to bet that males and females are responsible for an equal amount of crime, even those perpetrated against women and children. But I don’t really know where I would get the statistics on that, or even if there are any statistics on that….so let us merely note that this is not exactly stereotype breaking and move on.

And then Jesus admits to Mack that if women were in charge, the world would be a much better place.

Which doesn’t exactly sound like a ringing endorsement of the patriarchy. I admit, I’m shocked.

Jesus then says this:

“We want male and female to be counterparts, face to face equals, each unique and different, distinctive in gender but complementary, and each empowered uniquely by Sarayu…”

Oh, I see. Jesus is a fan of separate, but equal. I heard a lot about complementarianism growing up. Men and women have different roles, but these roles are equal and complement each other.

As a Christian, all I could think about was the mural in the Smithsonian Museum of American History. On one side of the mural was a picture of 1960s children in a white school, and on the other side of the picture were children in a black school from the same decade. In big bold letters were the words “separation is not equal.”

The idea that women and men should always have separate roles–the exact same separate roles–is inherently not equal.

I do not understand this next paragraph at all.

Jesus tells Mack that, when Adam was first created, the woman was inside of him so that God would take her out from within him. Man was never created to live alone. From the very beginning God knew Adam would need a woman.

By taking her [Eve] out of him [Adam], he birthed her in a sense. We created a circle of relationship, like our own, but for humans. She, out of him, and now all the males, including me, birthed through her, and all originating, or  birthed form God.

“Oh, I get it,” Mack said, “If the female had been created first, there would have been no circle of relationship, and thus no possibility of a fully equal face to face relationship between the male and the female, right?”

“Exactly right, Mack.” Jesus looked at him and grinned.

I’m trying to put my mindset back into Christianity mode in the hopes of better understanding this…. I still do not fucking understand it.

Anybody want to chime in?

Jesus then tells Mack that there’s one more thing he needs to tell him. He tells Mack that he can’t submit outside of Jesus, and I’m nodding along, fairly standard conservative Christian type stuff. Then there’s this and I get all confused.

“Seriously, my life was not meant to be an example to copy. Being my follower is not trying to “be like Jesus,” it means your independence is killed.”

How did Christian!me not see this? Maybe Christian!me was too busy quietly freaking out at the idea that Jesus wanted to kill my independence to notice that the rest of this goes against everything I’ve ever been taught about Christianity.

Jesus does say that he needs to come live inside Mack in order for him to have a relationship with God. He tells Mack that he shouldn’t just do his own thing.

Jesus then tells Mack that he needs to go do something. It’s very abrupt.

“You have an engagement. Follow that path and enter where it ends. I’ll wait for you here.

And so Mack goes, and thus ends the chapter.

Ooooh cliffhanger! What is Mack off to do! The suspense!

Just kidding, I really don’t care.

 

 

 

The Stand Chapter 10 and 11

I apologize for the lack of posts lately. I took a summer class that was particularly brutal. Also I moved, and have temporarily misplaced my abridged copy of The Stand. And also my copy of The Shack, so we’ll have to get to that book later.  For now, we are doing chapter 10 of the unedited version of Stephen King’s novel.

 

Ugh. More Larry Underwood. Well, let’s get it over with.

Larry woke up with a hangover that was not too bad, a mouth that tasted as if a baby dragon had used it for a potty chair, and a feeling that he was somewhere he shouldn’t be.

Not gonna have a good ending, this chapter.

Larry pieces together that the night before, he got drunk and wound up sleeping with some random woman. His first thought is that his mother is going to freak, because of course he didn’t call her.

At least he realizes that this is a dick move on his part.

The girl’s name was Maria and she had said she was a….what? Oral hygienist, was that it? Larry didn’t know how much she knew about hygiene, but she was great on oral.

I like this line.

Larry tries to piece together what happened the night before. His mom left him a note saying that the yankees weren’t playing, and that most of his friends aren’t around anymore, except for one.

Just thinking of the note made him wince. NO “dear” before his name, no “love” before her signature. She didn’t believe in phony stuff. The real stuff was in the refrigerator….she had gone out and stocked up on every goddam thing in the world that he liked….. no “dear” no “love, mom.” Sometimes, he thought, real love is silent as well as blind.

Maybe it’ll be more obvious as we go along, but I’m not seeing Alice Underwood as a “horrible mother.” Yes, she’s a bit abrupt. Yes she does things I don’t agree with (why can’t you write “love mom” AND buy Larry all the things?) but she’s not horrible. At least, she wasn’t in the edited version. Maybe the upcoming confrontation with her and Larry will make things a little more obvious.

Anyway, that was Larry remembering. Now Maria comes back. She informs him she made “kippers and bacon” for breakfast. Larry has too much of a hangover to eat, and anyway, he has to go, although he does it in the worst way possible.

“No, honey, I’ve got to run. Someone I’ve got to see.”

Yeah, that doesn’t sound like you’ve got a wife to run home to. Really now, Larry.

She and Larry get into an argument, during which he insults her quite a bit. Finally, Larry tells Maria that the person he’s got to go see is his mother. Maria doesn’t believe him.

“What am I supposed to do with all the stuff I just cooked?”

Which is a silly argument, but I could think of at least 5 better responses than

“Throw it out the window?” Larry suggested.

At which point Maria throws the spatula at Larry, cutting open his forehead.

He advanced two steps with the spatula in his hand. “I ought to paddle you with this!” he shouted at her.

Really Larry? Look, I get that she threw it at you first, but couldn’t you just leave it there and walk away?

Maria cries, and screams, “you ain’t no nice guy!” over and over again as Larry leaves.

And she’s not entirely wrong. Larry isn’t very nice. King probably intends to show us Larry’s growth over the course of the novel, but I’m undecided as to whether or not that’s shown very well. I’ve read this thing twice and I still don’t like him.

In any case, after Larry leaves, he realizes he could have handled that situation better.

He had treated the girl like an old whore on the morning after the frathouse gangbang.

I wouldn’t know out that, but, sure?

Larry hails a cab to go visit his mother at work, and the chapter ends as he wonders how he’s going to explain this one to her.

This chapter was short, so we’re gonna go ahead and do chapter 11 as well.

The next chapter begins with Larry visiting Alice Underwood at work. This part was absolutely not included in the edited edition, so this will be interesting. If this is Larry’s confrontation with his “horrible mother,” I’m really interested to see it.

Larry finds his mom and apologizes, saying he should have called her.

“Yeah. Good idea.” Replies Alice Underwood.

Ok she’s a little abrupt,  but she’s also right. Yes he’s a grownass man, but when I lived with my parents, I always let them know if I was going to be gone overnight.

Alice is on a ladder doing inventory, and Larry can kinda sorta see up her dress. King goes on about it for quite a while, actually.

“Is that all you came to tell me?” She asked, looking around at him for the first time.

“Well, where I was and to apologize, It was crummy of me to forget.”

“Yeah,” she said again. “But you got your crummy side to you, Larry. Do you think I forgot that?”

“Mom, Listen–”

“You’re bleeding. Some stripper hit you with a loaded G-string?”

I think I get where King is coming from now with the “horrible mother” bit.

Actually, let’s talk about this. Alice Underwood is out of line with that last comment. She is absolutely emotionally abusive and probably a little bit verbally abusive too.

But, like most horrible mothers, she’s also a human who loves her son. Most people think it’s an either or thing; either a woman is abusive or she loves her son. And it’s clear here that Alice is both. She is a well rounded well written realistic character.

I wanted to point that out because I plan to compare her to Fran’s mother later. The differences between the confrontations are…. striking.

After a bit more back and forth about exactly what Larry was doing last night, Larry softly begs his mother not to be mad at him.

“Larry,” she said gently. “Larry, Larry, Larry….is that all you can say? ‘Don’t be mad at me, please Ma, don’t be mad’? I hear you on the radio, and even though I don’t like that song you sing, I’m proud it’s you singing it. People ask me if that’s really my son and I say yes, that’s Larry.”

I don’t get it. She’s making fun of her son, then telling him she’s proud of him…. in the same sentence?

Usually my father picks one or the other, so I don’t really get this. This is some emotional manipulation going on here.

Alice then tells Larry she’s not sure why he’s come back, but that she knows he’s in some kind of trouble. When Larry argues that he’s not, Alice tells him she knows better.

“Am I mad? No. Am I disappointed? Yes. I had hoped you would change out there. You didn’t….you know why I think you came back home? I think you came home because you couldn’t think where else to go, or who else would take you in. “

Alice isn’t wrong. Still. This is hardly the time nor the place.

“Since you’ve pushed me to it, I’ll tell you exactly what I think of you. I think you’re a taker. You’ve always been one. It’s like God left some part of you out when he built you inside of me. You’re not bad. You would’ve gone bad if there was bad in you.”

Alice then reminds Larry of the time she caught him writing a bad word on the stairway of the apartment complex they lived in once.

As punishment, she wrote the word on his forehead and then paraded him around the neighborhood.

That’s a terrible punishment. It’s terrible because it’s clearly just meant to humiliate him. What the hell Alice?

Alice tells Larry she never would have done that if she knew a better way to fix him, which…. what? Alice did that because she was trying to make Larry not be so selfish? How on earth is that going to teach him anything except that you are a horrible person? Good god.

Larry says he’ll move out this afternoon, if she feels that way. But even as he says this, he knows he can’t afford to do that. Because Alice was right, he is in trouble. Even if he won’t admit that to her.

But Alice’s tone softens. She begs Larry not to leave. She bought him all the food, and she was hoping they could play card games. Larry agrees to stay, even while feeling slightly guilty for being a “taker” again.

Yanno, if one is in trouble, it’s not wrong to take help. I can’t tell if this is Alice’s emotional manipulation indicating this, or if that’s what King actually thinks. Knowing King, it’s probably the former.

Alice tells Larry to take $10 out of her purse so he can go watch a movie.

So, Alice yells at him for a while, then gives him money and begs him to stay. Yeah, that’s not emotional manipulation at all.

Larry promises to pay his mom back at some point. His record is selling really well, he says. Alice asks why, if his record is selling so well, doesn’t he just pay her now?

You know, I get the feeling a lot of problems could be solved if Larry would just tell her what the fuck is going on.

“Well, nevermind. My tongue’s like a horse with a bad temper. Once it starts running, it just has to go on running until it’s tired out. You know that. Take $15, Larry. Call it a loan. I guess I will get it back, one way or the other.”

She insults him, then tries to make up for it by giving him more money. I get that this would be heartbreaking, but if Larry wants to play this right, he could make a killing.

Larry then tries to tell his mom about exactly what kind of trouble he’s in, but she coldly replies that she doesn’t want to hear about it.

Oooookay then. Well.

So Larry goes and watches a movie “with a roman numeral after it’s name that seems well attended.” Larry deduces that there is probably going to be a sequel.

But Larry doesn’t know that

The sound behind him signaled the end to all that: there would be no more sequels, and in a very short time, there would be no more movies at all.

In the row behind Larry, a man was coughing.

When King is good, he’s really good.

So, let’s talk for a bit about why this got cut from the original novel. King wanted to include it, obviously, or he wouldn’t have put it back in.

He claims that the reason he took a lot of stuff out had to do with printing costs and logistics rather than wanting to remove the actual content. Now that he’s a more established author, he can do things like put back the edited content. He probably thinks the novel is much stronger for it.

However, I am finding that much of the stuff King put back in was probably better left out, the possible exception being the prologue. (though even that is debatable.)

Is Larry’s confrontation with his mother essential to the novel? No, not at all. King probably felt it was important to emphasize that Larry is a taker, but honestly, we could’ve gotten that from just about every other thing he’s done so far, and everything he will continue to do for the next half of the book.

We do not need Alice Underwood to tell us that Larry is selfish. We do not need to see how he reacts to his mother berating him to understand that Larry has a sensitive side. All of this could (and arguable will) be shown elsewhere.

This chapter didn’t just get taken out due to printing costs. It got taken out because it mostly develops character of a person who is going to die in the first fourth of the novel and never be seen again. Alice Underwood serves no purpose to the plot, and neither does this confrontation.

The Stand Chapter 8 and Chapter 9

Chapter 8 describes the spread of Campion’s Disease Captain Tripp’s. It is a fairly short chapter, so we will be doing 2 chapter this post.

Chapter 8 starts out by showing how Joe Bob helped pass along the virus.  Joe Bob, if you recall, was the police man who was some relation to Vic Palfrey. He came to Hap’s Texaco to warn the men about the CDC’s interest in them.

I have very little sympathy for him. Look, I get wanting to warn your buddies, but did you have to go down in person for that? If you knew the CDC was interested, wouldn’t a phone call have been a better idea?

On June 18, 5 hours after he had talked to his cousin Bill Hapscomb, Joe Bob Brentwood pulled over a speeder by the name of Harry Trent.

After getting the speeding ticket, Trent tries to sell Joe Bob life insurance, but Joe Bob feels fine, so he declines the offer.

Dying was the last thing on his mind. Nevertheless, he was already a sick man. He had gotten more than gas at Bill Hapscomb’s Texaco. And he gave Harry Trent more than a speeding summons.

We are then told that Trent gave the sickness to a lot of people at work, and how many they then went on to infect is impossible to tell.

You might as well ask how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

I’ve never understood this. Do people in other religions think angels dance on pins? Because Adventists think Angels have better things to do with their lives.

King then goes on to use math, and my eyes glaze over.

A lot of people got infected by just one person, ok? That’s his point.

On June 19, Trent went out for a burger, but he was so sick he couldn’t eat much.

He left the sweet thang that waited on his table a dollar tip that was crawling with death.

I like this line.

A family with kids pulls up and asks Trent for directions.

Harry gave the New York fellow very clear directions on how to get to Highway 21. He also served him and his entire family their death warrants without even knowing it.

This chapter is full of really great one liners, though in the edited edition it just says, “the whole family would be dead by July 2.” Which, looking at a calendar, is about 3 weeks, give or take. And so I like the way this reads in the unedited edition better. “He served them their death warrants” just sounds a lot more ominous.

How fast does this virus kill, again? The people in the lab died in under 12 minutes. But its taken Harry Trent at least a day to even show symptoms, and it takes the Norris family roughly 3 weeks to all die.

You could argue that the virus would have evolved to survive longer, and that would make sense. But other times, the disease still seems to kill people quite quickly, sooooo?

We should play a drinking game: drink when the rate at which the disease kills people is flexible at the plot’s convenience.

We then get a description of some of the people the Norris family infects. And it takes them a while to show symptoms.

I give up on trying to make sense of this.

In any case, we now switch to the perspective of the New Yorker, Edward Norris, who happens to be a police detective. He and his family have just come back from what we are told is their first real vacation in 5 years. How fortunate for him that he took this vacation, and that it was such a good time. In fact, Norris had such a good time that he plans on bragging about it to Steve when he gets back. The whole “bragging about it to Steve” thing gets cut from the edited edition, and I’m torn on how I feel about it. It’s not really a big deal in the scheme of things. I can see why it was cut, but I’m not sorry it got put back in, either.

The first Norris to show symptoms of the illness is the baby, Hector. That makes sense. Babies and the elderly would be particularly vulnerable to…well, anything, really.

During their wait in [the Doctor’s] office they communicated the sickness which would soon be known across the disintegrating country as Captain Trips to more than 25 people.

Why? Why Captain Trip’s? Why haven’t they started calling it “Campion’s Disease,” or just “Campion?” As far as they know, Campion was patient zero. And don’t these things usually get named after the first patient who had them? Or the first doctor who diagnosed them? Actually, nothing has been announced officially, so this “Captain Trip’s” is only a nickname. Who picks a nickname with 3 syllables? Yea “Campion’s disease” isn’t much shorter, but it still makes more sense than “Captain Trip’s.” Who is Captain Trip? Exactly.

I can’t remember if we get told this in this novel or if I am remembering it from the Dark Tower series, but in some parts of the country the virus is called “Tube Neck,” because of how swollen the neck gets. Even that makes more sense than “Captain Trip’s.”

In any case, when Ed and Trish take Hector to the doctor, they infect everyone, including a woman who is just there to pay her bill. In the edited edition, the chapter ends with the woman passing the disease along to her bridge club and everyone in the bar afterward. In this edition, we get a bit more detail.

In fact, a lot of the detail in this chapter has been cut. And I can see why–it’s not really important in the overall scheme of things–but it would be nice if this could have been left in the original version.

Chapter 9

This chapter introduces us to one of the other main characters, Nick Andros.

We are first introduced to Nick as he’s getting beaten up by some guys from the bar.

We are not told, right away, that Nick is a deaf mute. We are given some clues: Nick fights without making a sound, he doesn’t even scream as they are beating him up, which causes the bullies to feel unnerved. It doesn’t make sense to me, either. Even a deaf mute can usually make sound. A lot of sound, actually, since they feel no need whatsoever to regulate their volume.

A car comes by, causing the thugs to scatter, while Nick almost gets run over.

He comes to in a jail cell, for reasons I don’t understand. Wouldn’t you put a person who had been badly beaten up and found unconscious in a hospital? Maybe this is one of those realistic details that make no sense to me because I think it’s ridiculous.

In any case, even though he’s in jail, he has been given stitches on his most severe wounds.

Just then, the sherriff walks in, telling him he looks terrible, and asks for his name.

We’ve gotten enough clues so far to be able to piece it together on our own, but this is where we find out for sure that Nick is a deaf-mute.

Nick put a finger to his swelled and lacerated lips and shook his head. He put a hand over his mouth, then cut the air with it in a soft diagonal hashmark and shook his head.

The sherriff isn’t sure about all this, but he gives Nick a pencil and a pad of paper. Nick writes down what happened. When the sheriff asks him if he’s old enough to drink, Nick replies that he is 22, and that he should be able to get some beers without getting beaten and robbed.

Baker reflected that teaching a deaf-mute kid to read and write was probably quite a trick, and this Nick Andros must have some pretty good equipment upstairs to have caught the hang of it.

We get little hints throughout the book like this that Nick is really really smart. I have no issue with Nick being smart. Though I’m not sure how realistic it is for him to be able to lip read like that. It takes years of training to learn how to lip read, and as we will see, Nick Andros is a bit lacking in the formal training department.

Even if one is really super smart, lip reading is still difficult because a lot of sounds and words look the same. Even someone who is good at lip reading is still going to struggle. I have been reading that, in order to lip read successfully, it’s necessary to have at least some level of hearing, even if it is very minor. Without any hearing at all, even a very smart person would have trouble understanding much of what anyone was saying.

I can kinda see why King wouldn’t want to get bogged down by that detail in the story. From a literary stand point it’s much easier if the other characters don’t have to use sign language or write things down.

Is that an excuse for not portraying Nick’s disability more realistically? Someone else will have to comment. I’m not sure I know the answer to that.

In any case, Nick tells Sheriff Baker that he’s been traveling, and that he did some work for a man in town named Rich, but that the men who beat him up got all the money he earned.

Baker tells Nick he can check on that, and asks Nick if he’s sure of the details. He calls up Rich, and upon finding that Nick’s story is true, he lets Nick out of jail.

So, Nick was only in jail in the first place because everyone thought he was jobless? Do police just lock up all the  jobless people and put them in jail? What a fucked up world we live in, if that’s the case.

Baker asks Nick more about the people who robbed him. When Nick gives the description, Baker swears.

“That’s my brother in law, Ray Booth…thanks, kid. Five in the morning and my day’s wrecked already… He’s  a bad actor, Janey knows it. He beat her up enough times when they was kids together. Still, they’re brother ‘n sister and I guess I can forget my lovin for this week.”

I like the sheriff. He’s a bit gruff, and you can tell he doesn’t want to upset his wife. But, even though he makes a lot of noise about not liking it, it’s clear he’s going to do the right thing.

Not a lot of small town sheriffs are like that.

Baker tells Nick that going after the men probably won’t do any good, because it’s his word against theirs, but that if Nick wants to press charges, Baker will try.

As the sheriff goes to get Nick some medicine the doctor left for him, he starts sneezing violently into his handkerchief.

This good man is already dead.

As he passed the pills and a glass of water to Nick, Baker rubbed gently under the angle of his jaw. There was a definite painful swelling there. Swollen glands, coughing, sneezing, a low fever, felt like. Yeah, it was shaping up to be a wonderful day.

 

The Stand Chapter 7

I am excited about this chapter. In the original edited edition, a large portion of it simply isn’t there. I wish it had been included, because the parts of the book showing the spread of the disease are my favorite part. That right there is another reason I like this chapter. We finally get at least a little more information about the disease.

Chapter 7 opens on Vic Palfrey waking up briefly from the delirium. He’s not really awake enough to be completely lucid, just awake enough to realize that he is dying. It’s horrifying, and we are right there horrified along with him.

Vic looks around, and discovers that not only has his bed been cranked up as high as it can go (to keep his lungs from drowning), he’s restrained with brass laundry pins. You’d think a hospital would have better restraint methods than this, especially with a delirious patient in a highly secured infectious diseases ward. You don’t exactly want to give the diseased and delirious person a sharp object with which he could penetrate your hazmat suit.

He knew he had been delirious, and would be again. He was sick and this was not a cure or the beginning of one, but only a brief respite.

How he knows this is anyone’s guess. Maybe he’s heard the doctors talking or something. It doesn’t really matter. Vic feels around, and discovers he’s hooked up to all kinds of tubes and wires. He tries to shout, but it comes out as more of a whisper.

As Vic thinks about his surroundings, he starts slipping back into delirium. It’s very well done, but it’s too long to quote.

The idea that he might die babbling inanities like a senile old man terrified him.

I like this line.

He was looking at the door, and thinking it was a damn funny door even for a hospital. It was round at the corners, outlined with pop-rivets, and the lower jamb was 6 inches or more up from the tile floor. Even a jackleg carpenter like Vic Palfrey could

(gimme the funnies Vic you had em long enough)

(Mamma he took my funnypages! Give em back!)

build better than that. It was (steel).

Part of the reason I highlighted this is to show exactly how King shows Palfrey slipping in and out of sanity. I do wonder why the door seems so shoddily designed. If this center is specifically for people who are sick, wouldn’t they have already had a room with a ready made steel door?

As the sun sets, Vic catches site of the doctors watching him from behind glass.

Then Vic remembers where he is: Atlanta, Georgia. He thinks about all the other people who were taken with him and wonders if they could all be sick with what Campion had.

….to get beyond the Arnette town limits they had had to pass a roadblock on US93, and men had been stringing bobwire…stringing bobwire right out into the desert….

(elipses are original to text)

A Man in a suit comes by and asks how Vic is feeling. But this was Vic’s last moment of lucidity. He’s already gone. The suited man turns to his colleague and says, “if this one doesn’t work, we’ll lose him by midnight.”

Later it is revealed that they are trying out different cures on the Arnette residents.

I wish they hadn’t cut this part out. But I can see why King did. It doesn’t advance character for a person we’re ever going to see again, and in general it has nothing to do with the rest of the novel. Even though *I* would like to see more about the spread of this disease, the disease itself is just a plot device used by King to kill off most of the world’s population so that the rest of the novel can take place.

There’s a section break, and we cut to Stu’s perspective. In the edited edition, this is where chapter 7 begins.

The chapter, er, section, opens with one of the nurses trying to take Stu’s blood pressure. He refuses, saying that he won’t cooperate until someone tells him what’s what around here. Good for him.

He had no objection to the tests themselves. What he objected to was being kept in the dark, kept scared. He wasn’t sick, at least not yet, but scared plenty….he wasn’t going to be a party to it anymore until somebody told him something about what had happened in Arnette and what that fellow Campion had to do with it. At least then he could base his fears on something solid.

I… think it’s pretty obvious that Campion had everything to do with it, and to his credit, Stu’s pretty much figured that out on his own.

They had come and got him on the afternoon of the 17th, 2 days ago. 4 army men and a doctor. Polite, but firm. There was no question of declining; all 4 of the army men had been wearing sidearms. That was when Stu Redman started being seriously scared.

Stu describes the ride to the hospital, which involves a car trip to the nearest airport and then they fly to Georgia. But hey, at least the army gives them good booze, probably to calm them down. One of the people, Lila Bruette, is crying hysterically. Can’t say I’d blame her, I’d probably be crying hysterically too.

One of the soldiers transporting the Arnette townsfolk suddenly started sneezing.

Wait a second…the higher ups in the army knew how contagious and deadly this disease was, and they didn’t tell their people to take precautions when they went to fetch the Arnettens? Do they want their soldiers to die, or are they just that goddamn incompetent?

Also, those poor townspeople. If they weren’t infected before, they definitely are after that plane ride. You just killed a bunch of people, thanks army. Granted they probably would have gotten the disease anyway, but still.

Hap makes the observation that the people transporting them are,

“A pretty funny bunch of ole boys…Ain’t one of ’em under 50, nor one with a weddin ring. Career boys, low rank.”

I’m not sure what the significance of that is. Does the army not care if the low rank people die from being exposed to these dangerously sick people? Knowing this, did they purposely pick older soldiers who weren’t married, under the mistaken assumption that unmarried soldiers have no family or anyone at home to care about? Because that does seem to be the assumption, at least from Stu’s perspective. No wives, no close relatives, etc.

This wasn’t incompetence, then. If the military purposely picked out a group of people they thought had nothing to lose, they had to have planned for their soldiers to come down with the Superflu.

Is that realistic? Because if it is, that’s horrifying.

Back in the present, Dr. Denninger comes in and asks Stu why he wouldn’t let the nurse, Patty, take his temperature. Stu tries not to let his fear show, but he tells the man he wants some answers, and then he’ll cooperate. Otherwise he’ll fight everyone every step of the way. Stu guesses, correctly, that the doctors are afraid of him, so he threatens to puncture one of their suits if they don’t give him some answers.

Denninger refuses to tell him anything.

“Your lack of cooperation may do your country a grave disservice. Do you understand me?”

Aaaaand you just lost the argument. This may have worked back in like, the 1940s when everyone was all patriotic and shit. Back then, they probably did tend to do things to help their country, no questions asked. But by the time this book was written, that was not the case. People were no longer content with blind patriotism. I’m certainly not.

And so when Stu responds that it is his country that is doing him the disservice, I nod along in agreement.

“Right now my country…has got me locked up in a hospital room…with a buttermouth little pissant doctor who doesn’t know shit from Shinola.”

Here’s how this reads in the edited version:

Right now my country…has got me locked up in a hospital room…with with a buttermouth little pissant doctor who doesn’t know enough to shit or go blind.

Speculation on why this got changed? Thoughts?

Deninger leaves, and Stu sits down to wait calmly. He tries not to let the fear and panic get ahold of him.

But it was 40 hours before they sent him a man who would talk.

Spoiler alert: And even when he does show up, he still doesn’t tell Stu much.

 

 

 

The Shack Chapter 9

TRIGGER WARNING: DISCUSSION OF SEXUAL ABUSE, DISCUSSION OF CHILD ABUSE, DISCUSSION OF SPOUSAL MURDER.

 

Chapter 9

A Long Time Ago, In a Garden Far, Far Away

I’m not sure why the Star Wars reference. Is this garden actually in the past? Does that mean Mack has time traveled to before the shack was, well, a shack?

In any case, Mack follows Sarayu to the garden, which is very large and also contains an orchard. Sarayu picks an herb and tells Mack to chew the leaves. They’ll stop him from getting diarrhea from the greens he overindulged in at breakfast this morning, apparently.

Thank God, because I really don’t want to have to read about Mack’s GI issues.

Sarayu picks a bouquet of flowers and herbs, then directs Mack to begin digging up a space so she can plant some things there tomorrow. Why God The Holy Spirit doesn’t just use her god powers to work the garden is not something that will ever be explained.

Mack asks Sarayu if she and her Godhead partners created everything. He’s specifically referring to mosquitoes and poisonous plants. Anyone who’s ever read anything about creation science already knows the answer to this question. But I don’t think this book is meant to be preaching to the choir, so we get it spelled out for us.

“We created everything that actually exists, including what you consider the bad stuff…but when I created it, it was only good, because that is just the way I am.”

How are mosquitoes possibly good? Surely something less bothersome could take their place in the ecosystem if it was being designed by anything halfway intelligent.

When Mack voices this, Sarayu shakes her head and tells him that humans aren’t just taking themselves to hell in handbaskets, they’re taking the rest of creation with them.

Indeed, creation scientists also talk about how different things supposedly were before the flood. Poisonous snakes, they argue, weren’t actually poisonous when God created them. But they became that way after the flood. After the flood there was a different amount of air pressure, the world was a lot cooler, and in general a much different place.

Also, sin has corrupted even the plants and animals.

Surprisingly, Sarayu doesn’t say any of that. She points to a poisonous plant and tells Mack that “bad plants” aren’t all bad. This plant, for example, would normally be harmful for Mack to even touch. However, it has some good healing properties.

Are there actual plants that can poison you just by touching a small part of them? Certainly if you had any open cuts on your hand, but I’m unaware of anything that powerful. Usually you’d have to at least ingest it in some form in order for negative affects to occur.

And here’s a thought, why not just make plants that can heal you without the harmful poisonous component?

Sarayu tells Mack that humans often declare a thing “good” or “bad” without understanding the thing. And I can track with that, that’s very true.

Then Sarayu tells Mack that she is referring to the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and she loses me completely. Instead of asking her to elucidate, Mack asks incredulously if the garden of Eden was real.

Nope, you just stretched the bounds of credibility too far. Mack hasn’t exactly been worshiping God, but he hasn’t been shown to be an atheist, or even a liberal Christian before. He’s been shown as just a lapsed Christian who still believes Genesis should be taken literally, but he can’t bring himself to care.

In any case, Mack says that a lot of people think that Eve eating the fruit from the tree was a myth. It is, and I’m told it’s not a very original one at that. I packed all the relevant books, so I won’t get into it now, but a lot of the Genesis stories were borrowed from other religions.

“Let me ask you a question. When something happens to you, how do you determine whether it is good or evil?”

By whether or not it could cause me some form of harm, that’s how. Duh. But the question stuns Mack into silence. He finally gives the exact answer I just gave, but then Sarayu tells him that that makes it all rather subjective.

Well, yeah. What’s good for me is not necessarily going to be good for person X, and vice versa. Sometimes the right thing to do in a given situation is subjective.

Sarayu interrupted. “Then it is you who determines good and evil. You become the judge. And to make things more confusing, that which you determine to be good will change over time and circumstance.”

Yes. And I’m grateful for that. Just a few short years ago, being gay was considered evil. I know it still is by a lot of people, but it’s much more accepted now. I’m glad that humans have the ability to grow and change as we learn to do better. (well. Some of us, at any rate.)

I think we’re supposed to read this as horrifying. That there has to be such a thing as absolute morality, otherwise the planet will descend into absolute chaos.

Actually, even though right and wrong varies across time and cultures, there are a few constants. But set that aside for now.

When Mack says that he can see the problem Sarayu snaps that there certainly is a problem.

“Indeed! The choice to eat from the tree tore the universe apart, divorcing the spiritual from the physical.”

Mack didn’t eat the fruit from the tree, why are you snapping at him?

Mack responds, kind of stoically, that he sees now that he spends too much time trying to acquire things he considers good while fearing that which he considers bad.

Um, yeah, and? I bet he also breathes oxygen and expels carbon dioxide. This guy is, after all, supposedly human. And I see nothing wrong with any of those things.

“You must give up your right to decide what is good and evil on your own terms.”

This is a huge red flag. If anybody says this to you, please do yourself a favor and run.

Sarayu goes on for a bit about how good she is, and then Mack says that giving up his right to independence isn’t going to be easy, because

Sarayu interrupted his sentence again. “That in one instance, the good may be the presence of cancer or the loss of income–or even a life.”

An editor. An editor looked at this and nodded his head and kept reading.

I don’t like Sarayu. She interrupts a lot. Also, what she is saying is kind of a little horrifying.

Mack points out that the people with cancer and dead daughters might be a little pissed off at what Sarayu is saying. *I* am a little pissed off at what Sarayu is saying, and I don’t have cancer. Or a dead daughter.

Sarayu says that she keeps those people in mind, and I’m not sure what I’m supposed to make of that.

Then we get this.

“But–” Mack could feel his control getting away as he drove his shovel in hard– “didn’t Missy have a right to be protected?”

“No, Mack. A child is protected because she is loved, not because she has a right to be protected.”

I keep typing out a response to this and then deleting it. How do you respond to something like this?

First of all, this is sadly a common sentiment among fundy Christians. They are opposed to child protection laws for reasons I don’t fully understand. They don’t seem to care about protecting children, and it’s horrifying to think that the reason is because they really don’t think children should have the right to be protected.

Imagine you are a child in an abusive home with Christian parents. You pick up a copy of this book, and then you read that you don’t have the right to be protected from what is happening to you. Imagine how horrible you feel at that moment.

Sometimes I hope there is a hell just so these people can be sent there.

Set all that aside for 10 seconds. So, does that mean that God let Missy die because he didn’t love her enough to protect her?

Anyone who doesn’t believe children have a right to be protected from being brutally murdered and possibly raped is a motherfucking asshole who doesn’t deserve to live.

Mack gropes wildly for some kind of right he can hold on to.

“But what about–”

“Rights are where survivors go, so that they won’t have to work out relationships,” [Sarayu] cut in.

At the end note in the back of this book, the author recommends distributing these books to shelters for battered women.

In light of this chapter, in light of this statement, let that sink in for a bit.

And no, I’m sorry, but a survivor of abuse should feel in no way obligated to work out a relationship with her or his abuser. The abuser has waived that right the minute he started the abuse. This is why people die. In fact, there has recently been a death in my family for this very reason. Abused women are told they are told they must go back and forgive their abuser rather than take their right to live free and unabused. Many of them pay for this mistake with their lives.

 

Mack was getting frustrated. He spoke louder. “But don’t I have the right to–”

“To complete a sentence without being interrupted? No, you don’t. Not in reality.  but as long as you think you do, you will surely get ticked off when someone cuts you off, even if it is God.”

Wow, Sarayu is a dick.

Also, one would think that God would have better manners than to go around interrupting his subjects. How does he like it when he’s interrupted?

Sarayu then goes on for another paragraph about Jesus and how he gave up his rights to “allow you to live free enough to give up your rights.”

I’ll be honest, this chapter wasn’t hard for me to write because I was busy with school. This chapter was hard to write because of the subject matter. This chapter was hard to read when I was a Christian, and it is hard to read now. As a Christian and as an Atheist, I weep for the women in battered womens’ shelters who read this. I weep for the abused child who reads this and her heart sinks as she starts to really believe that she doesn’t deserve to be protected from the abuse.

And I weep because this book got really popular, which means that there are a lot of people out there who agree that children don’t deserve to be protected from abuse.

You know what? Maybe the Trisolarans should come wipe us all out.

 

 

 

 

The Stand Chapter 6

Updates will now be sporadic. School has started.

We are back to Fran’s perspective, now. Fran, if you recall from a few weeks ago, had a fight with her boyfriend Jesse when she told him she was pregnant. She is now about to break the news to her father.

Interestingly, the miniseries doesn’t bring the pregnancy up at this time. The miniseries also doesn’t show her breakup with Jesse. My friend D says that Fran is pregnant in the miniseries, and I am interested to see how it comes up later. Will she not know for sure who the baby’s father is? That would definitely ramp up the tension a bit.

The other thing the mini series changes is that Fran’s mother is gone. I’m not entirely sure if she left or if she’s dead, but either way, the confrontation with Fran’s mother (that I am told is coming) is left out of both the mini series and the edited edition.

In any case, Fran’s dad is in the garden, weeding the peas. We get some background about Fran’s dad, who is about 64. Well, at least that’s a nice, long life. Peter Goldsmith talks while Fran nods.

I had to pull out the edited edition to double check, but a lot of the conversation between Fran and her father has been cut. Also a lot of background information about her father didn’t make it into the original. I think this is because, as Fran’s dad ultimately doesn’t survive, it’s not really necessary to give him so much backstory.

She loved it when her dad talked this way. It wasn’t a way he talked often, because the woman that was his wife and her mother would all but cut the tongue out of his head with the acid which could flow so quickly and freely from her own.

This paragraph is also not present in the edited edition.

There’s some talk about how hard work is necessary, and that Fran’s mother is a bit upset that

Changes had come for women, whether the women always liked them or not, and it was hard for Carla to get it through her head that Fran wasn’t down there at UNH husband-hunting.

All of which is left out of the edited edition.

In the edited edition, Fran and Mr. Goldsmith don’t really talk much until Fran reveals she’s pregnant.

Oh my god, they cut out a lot. Especially about Fran’s mother, who sounds like a real wet blanket.

Peter Goldsmith’s voice switched from topic to topic, mellow and soothing…she was lulled by it, as she always had been. She had come here to tell him something, but since earliest childhood she had often come to tell and stayed to listen.

Finally, Mr. Goldsmith asks his daughter what’s up. She tells him she’s pregnant.

Peter asks if this is a joke or a game, and if she’s really sure she’s pregnant. Fran begins to cry, and asks her father if he still likes her. He is puzzled by the question because of course he still likes his own daughter.

In the miniseries, the conversation they have in the garden is about her breakup with Jesse, and there’s no tears involved. If Fran is at all pregnant in the TV series, she does not mention it at this time.

Peter admits he’s not sure how to react, and asks if the baby is “that Jess’s.” Upon being informed that it is, and that Jess said he would either marry her or pay for an abortion, Fran’s father doesn’t seem too pleased.

“Marriage or abortion….he’s a regular 2 gun Sam.”

At least Fran’s father seems to believe that there are more than 2 options here.

Fran looked down at her hands…there was dirt in the small creases of her knuckles and dirt under the nails. A lady’s hands proclaim her habits, the mental mother spoke up. A pregnant daughter. I’ll have to resign my membership in the church. A lady’s hands–

Fuck the church, then, if they’re not going to be supportive.

In the introduction to this extended edition, King mentioned something about a confrontation with Fran’s mother. I think all this is setting up for that scene. Some of the stuff in this section about Fran’s mother is kept in, but some of it is not. I think it would’ve made sense to take out more of the bits about her mother if he also took out a confrontation.

Fran tells her father she was on birth control when it happened. Fran’s dad tells her he won’t blame her, then. Or either one of them.

“64 has a way of forgetting what 21 was like. So we won’t talk about blame.”

I like this.

“Your mother will have plenty to say about blame,” he said, “and I won’t stop her, but I won’t be with her. Do you understand that?”

Fran understands this better than I do. I happen to think someone has to protect their kid from the unreasonable parent.

Her father never tried to oppose her mother anymore. Not out loud. There was that acid tongue of hers. When she was opposed, it sometimes got out of control. And when it was out of control, she just might take up a notion to cut anyone with it and think of sorry too late to do the wounded much good.

This is also in both editions.

Peter asks Fran if shes’ going to marry Jesse. Fran says no, that they broke up, but not because of the baby. She’s struggling to figure out why they broke up. She keeps thinking of the saying, “marry in haste, repent at leisure.” And I agree. I think that if Fran is having hesitations or doubts, getting married would be a terrible idea.The fact that she can’t figure out why she’s having these hesitations or doubts is entirely beside the point. Sometimes our subconscious figures this shit out before our conscious mind does.

Fortunately, Fran’s father is able to help her verbalize a little better. He asks if Fran really trusts Jesse, and Fran realizes that no, she doesn’t trust him.

Fran then tells her father a story that was absolutely left out of the original edition. She and Jesse went to a poetry reading and she got the giggles and had to leave. Jesse, we are told, was mad.

I’m with Jesse on this one. I’d probably be pissed as well. In any case, Fran realizes that she and Jesse just aren’t compatible with each other and wouldn’t be happy together.

“What do you think of me getting an abortion?” Fran asked after a while.”

Peter Goldsmith tells Fran about how he felt watching his son, Freddie, dying in the hospital after a drunk driver caused an accident. He says that all he can think of when he thinks of abortion is poor little 7 day old 13 year old Freddie.

Then Peter Goldsmith says what he actually thinks about abortion:

Here is the way the line appears in the original edition:

“I think abortion’s too clean a name for it,” Peter Goldsmith said. “I told you I was an old man.”

Here’s the way this appears in the unedited version.

“I think abortion’s too clean a name for it,” Peter Goldsmith said….”I think it’s infanticide, pure and simple.”

We can speculate about why this was left out of the 1970s edition. I have been told that, back then, Christians were less pro-forced birth than they are now. This book may not be “Christian,” nevertheless, I have a very hard time believing that Christians aren’t the target audience of this book. I’m going to hazard a guess that King didn’t want to piss them off, so in the edited edition, which came out in 1978, he smoothed over the abortion discussion. By the time he was able to put a lot of the edited stuff back in in the early 1990s, the majority of Christians were very anti-abortion, so it made sense to have Fran’s father tell her that abortion is totally the same as killing an actual infant.

Which, by the way, it’s totally not. There’s a world of difference between aborting a potential baby and killing an actual baby.

But Freddie wasn’t a baby when he died, so I’m a tad confused as to how they’re linked together in Mr. Goldsmith’s mind.

It was almost understandable when I thought Freddie was a small infant, but a teenager? Abortion is infanticide because you can’t separate the death of your 13 year old teenager from that of a clump of cells? I’m really not seeing the comparison here.

In the edited edition, Fran’s father comes off as almost too perfect. In this unabridged edition, he comes off as….well, a well rounded character who is a flawed human being and in my opinion quite a bit less likeable.

Fran’s dad then says, “Life is cheap. Abortion makes it cheaper.” This is included in both editions, and if King was going to include this then I’m not really sure why he edited the above sentence.

I think I’ve given up trying to figure this out. Someone else can start speculating.

In order to talk about abortion, I kind of skipped over some stuff about Fran’s mother. Apparently she used to be just like Fran, going to baseball games, drinking beer….and then Freddie died. After that, we are told, her views on things became set in stone. As Peter Goldsmith put it, “she stopped growing.” She became rigid in her mindset and stopped evaluating her world view whenever she got new information.

“Your mother has been using the old yardstick all her life, and she can’t change now….Fran, she’s too old to change, but you are getting old enough to understand that.”

That’s what we’re told, but I’m not 100% sure that that’s what we’re shown. In this chapter, sure, it fits, but in a few chapters Fran will have a confrontation with her mother, before which we will be shown flashbacks of Mrs. Fran’s mom, and in my opinion what we are shown of her kind of goes beyond “too old to change.” But we’ll get there when we get there.

Fran tells her father that she has her own reasons for not wanting an abortion. The baby is part of her.

Ok. There it is. Frannie doesn’t want an abortion, she shouldn’t get one. Problem solved.

Peter Goldsmith asks Fran what she does want to do, and Fran responds that she wants to keep the child.

Peter Goldsmith doesn’t respond to this, and Fran asks if he is thinking about her education. Peter tells her he wasn’t, but this comes across as not quite the truth. Of course he is thinking about her education. Of course he is thinking about how best to support his daughter.

Mr. Goldsmith tells Fran she doesn’t need to make a decision about the baby just yet, and then Fran’s mom pulls up.

“I have to tell her,” Frannie said.

“Yes. But give it a day or 2, Frannie.”

Sure. Let’s wait 2 whole days to tell your mother and see if she doesn’t get mad that you waited so long to tell her. Be sure to inform your mother that you told your father first and then waited a few days, that’ll totally not piss her right the fuck off.

The chapter ends there, and I think this chapter was actually stronger in the edited edition. Part of this is because Peter Goldsmith did a lot less talking before Frannie broke the news that she was pregnant. In this edition, Peter goes on and on about a lot of stuff before Fran springs the news. That was a good thing to have cut, because it contributed nothing to the overall plot, and only developed the character of a man who dies pretty early on. It was completely and utterly pointless, the novel was stronger without it.

And, in my opinion, it was stronger without the ridiculously strong “abortion is infanticide” comparison.