Monday, December 20, 2010

The Cinder Buggy - part 5; Chapters II and III; Aaron Woolwine; Christopher Gib; Aaron Breakspeare; Enoch Gib

Click here for parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 of my review of The Cinder Buggy.

Chapters II and III establish the blood lines for two of the main characters in the story. Page 11 states that Aaron Woolwine founded the town of New Damascus in 1879, but this is almost certainly a typographical error. Page 14 contains diary quotes from Aaron Woolwine in which he identifies 1774, 1781 and 1788 as the years of his three marriages. A founding date in the late 1700's for New Damascus is also consistent with the rise and fall of the iron industry. We cannot be sure whether Garrett meant 1789 (a transposition) or 1779. The difference probably does not matter to the story.

These chapters establish that Woolwine and Christopher Gib were business partners. The description of Christopher Gib is reminiscent of some of the Randian characters from the 1940's and 1950's, but without the depth and moral justification that Rand would provide.

Chapter II includes an interesting discussion of coal, especially the distinction between anthracite and bituminous ("soft") coal. Bituminous coal is softer and burns more easily. But anthracite is much more plentiful in the New Damascus area. Woolwine spent years trying to sell customers on the idea of buying and using anthracite, with the result that people thought he was trying to trick them with mere black rocks. A method was finally discovered (by accident) for using anthracite, but only after it was too late to benefit Woolwine.

Unappreciated innovation and invention often play a big role in Garrett's (and Rand's) writings.

Aaron Breakspeare is Woolwine's grandson, while Enoch Gib is Christopher Gib's son. Aaron and Enoch were born on the same day in an unidentified year. Chapter III ends with Breakspeare and Enoch Gib as the remaining sole heirs of Woolwine and Christopher Gib. In the first three chapters, Garrett has established the town (and the mystery of how it lost its main industry) and presumably the two main characters whose story will resolve the mystery.

Click here for part 6.



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