Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tragic Realism

Mrs. Noyes, Mottyl and Lucifer embody stark, imperfect reality. There are numerous scenes depicted in the book that follow Mrs. Noyes around, and allow the reader to understand completely where she's coming from. A particular scene which sent me into uncontrollable tears was when Mrs. Noyes discovers Lotte. (Emma's visibily deformed little sister). Mrs. Noyes desperately tries to save her, telling her everything will be fine, that the dead man in the boat is just sleeping, and that she's leading Lotte to safety. Upon bringing Lotte onto the Ark, only to have Lotte slaughtered as an ape, sends Mrs. Noyes back to her music and her gin. Her seeming mania conveys a humanity that has been beaten out of Noah, Hannah and Japeth. She sings to her little corpse, wraps her in bandages and buries her, remembering all the while that she and Noah had conceived an autistic child. That Emma was chosen so that if Japeth should pass on the deformity, Emma could be blamed and not Noah. Not her. I cried and cried and cried as I read this. It's really unfair that Mr. Findely should capture human sadness, helplessness, self-righteousness, love, and hatred so accutely...so seemigly real. Later on their is a similar tragic moment for Noah. Yaweh is dead. He is abandoned; he is despaired. He reverts to a Stalin-like paranoid madness, eventually being able to rationalize the destruction of such a delicate creature as the Unicorn. This realism, too, is unfair. This book probes so deep-so terribly true and authentic that it changes the reader. It is among the greatest pieces of literature I have ever read.

2 comments:

Kickin'Chicken said...

Tallan dear, did you know that "noyer" means to drown in French? Hmmm...for a novel taking place during a flood, this is probably NOT a coincidence - especially given that Findley sprinkled French throughout "the Wars" as well.

Kickin'Chicken said...

noyer in reference to Mrs. Noyes (in case I wasn't clear enough) being totally overcome by her own human condition. She drowns in her world because she cares for it, and watching it be overcome drags her down with it.