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|Is Ch.2 for real?
Written by Anselm
(9/6/2009 1:51 p.m.)
The last thing we know about what John D has decided to do for his stepmother and stepsisters before the infamous dialogue in Ch.2 is that he has "not repented" of his determination to give them £3,000 after "many days successively" (Ch.1), a determination that begins that dialogue in the following chapter.
My wife and I recited his conversation with Fanny. It took all of about 10 minutes, during which his firm intention to provide them with £3,000 was whittled down to "such kinds of neighbourly acts as his own wife pointed out".
It would be harsh in the extreme to believe that someone can be so mean-minded as to change their mind so quickly for the worse. Now, I'm a charitable kinda guy, and I like to think the best of people that their behaviour warrants. John's change of heart would be rendered a trifle less reprehensible if stretched out over some days, or even a week or two, instead of the relative blink of an eye that it appears to take.
That consideration led to this thought: is the conversation literal, or can it be interpreted as a precis of several that took place over some days, in the same way that some Christians interpret the literally recorded seven days of creation as seven ages or eons? According to this reading, each section of the passage might take a couple of days to work itself out, with the literal dialogue being an example of the kind of arguments used by the couple.
The first section would end with his halving of his present to £500 each. The second section, which might start after another couple of days, would see her whittle his annuity down to a present of £50 now and then, and the final one would deal with the elimination of any monetary consideration at all and its reduction to those "neighbourly acts".
Does anyone think there might be any mileage in this idea, or is it an arrant load of old nonsense? (Don't all shout at once!)
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