Thursday, February 24, 2011

Another snow day. I've been reading Adam Bede to Smokey today and we are trying to finish it today or tomorrow, but that will be difficult because for lunch I went to my favorite sketchy Mexican restaurant that no one else in my family, except June, will visit with me to eat as much as I could with the $8 I had on me. I was able to eat way too much and still leave $1.50 on the table, so, anyway, I'm now very sleepy as a result. Smokey is, too, as you can see.

I am a little disoriented with A.B. right now, what with Hetty's sudden pregnancy and apparent infanticide and all. Was I supposed to know that she was pregnant? Should I have been able to infer that from the desperation of her quest to Windsor in search of Arthur? I'm used to feeling this way when reading Faulkner--stupid, that is--but usually Eliot's talky narrators keep you pretty well filled in on things. I'm hoping that this all ends up as one big mistake, for Hetty's sake, but this does not feel like a hopeful book to me, so I'm trying to keep my expectations modest.

It's interesting what time has done to the relationship between the high-class classlessness of Arthur and his "Most likely to have no prospects" milk-made Hetty. At the time it was written, I'm sure Eliot intended this relationship to depict the cruelty and carelessness of the class system as represented by Arthur and his father the squire. Arthur is the bad guy. Today, though, it's a little bit easier for me to see him as a victim of class as much as Hetty is. I mean, I think if it weren't for his "station" and all, he'd be with her, and, dopes the both of them, they'd have just as much a chance at making it as anyone, I suppose. I'm not supposed to, but I think Arthur is just as tragic a figure as I'm sure Adam is going to turn out to be.


Dawn Potter said...

I think you ARE supposed to feel that way about Arthur. I think GE's genius was that she could feel sorry for everyone.

Mr. Hill said...

Yes, I think you're right; what he does he does in spite of himself most of the time. Sometimes, though, his self-talk comes across like a convenient way to clear his conscience just enough for him to behave as recklessly as he wants to.

I love all the different levels of self-awareness you see in this novel, and how little difference it seems to make.