All That And More
Posted by Cassia on October 24, 1997 at 13:56:30:
In response to Mirror, mirror on the wall, written by Karen R on October 23, 1997 at 16:20:31
] If you hold "val" up to a mirror, what do you see? Literally and figuratively? (Nice, catch, Cassia!!)
] Some would say that she epitomizes Roland's lazy and apathetic life in that toilet of an apartment they share in Putney (almost sounds like putrid, doesn't it). Do you think there is anything to the fact that they live "between Picadilly and Putney" in a "decaying Victorian house"? A house with a "forbidden garden"??
] Is she another character, or is she just a version of Roland that we--nonacademics--can better understand--since she is in the mundane world of office workers. Both of them are clearly overqualified or just plain unsuited for the jobs they are in. She does have the brainpower to do more; he will eventually discover the poet within him. It's just that they lack motivation and are lazy.
] Cassia, you mention that Val's main problem is being born in the wrong age. But Roland shares that same problem. "He thought of himself as a latecomer." He muses that he should have lived during the psychedelic '60s (I wonder why). He felt responsible not only for his failure but for Val's as well. He lived in three states: sleep, a sick vibrating wakefulness, and worrying about Val. Both have difficulty expressing themselves. "They quarrelled hardly at all...her refusal to advance opinions in class and, later, even to him." The Robert Graves poem she recites about telling someone that you love them while half asleep. But Roland doesn't talk either. He is barely noticed by his colleagues or Blackadder. He hardly ever says anything. (Could be a case of Male Ventriloquism, perhaps?)
] They get together at a tea party and he believes that she is "the first person his undergraduate self had spoken to, socially...." Ah, conversation...that prelude to true love. But they stop talking. Their world is all silence. (Ooooh, this is another topic!!) Love is over for both of them. She goes away, Roland's life improves and she comes back and they settle into their silent life. She no longer pretended to have any interest in Ash and Roland, as their love-making showed.
] Both are led out of their dreary existence by love.
] Forgive the rambling. I'm not sure this is coherent.
I don't believe either of them are lazy; they are much more disheartened. Roland because he always seems to just miss the boat, Val because she seems to have Carly Simon's "That's the Way I always Heard It Should Be" chorussing in her head. Val is the kind of personality who would be excellant as the 'woman behind the man'. She most likely never felt her ideas were good enough so when she met Roland, who was a great undergraduate, she gave up the idea of putting her own forth.
Part of the reason I began to think of Val this way was a conversation I had with a male, Rush Limbaugh loving, friend. One of the things he said he always envied about women was that it is socially acceptable for a woman to rely upon people in a way that people would take for weakness in a man. Calvin is no leader and has no desire to be, but it doesn't mean he's any the less trustworthy for this. We under estimate the skills it takes to be a good follower or even a second in command. this tendancey derves us ill; afterall, a leader must have followers. No one can be an army of one.
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