Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Cinder Buggy - part 13 - Chapters XVII, XVIII and XIX - Agnes and Alex

Click here for Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 of my review of The Cinder Buggy.

I wrote in part 12 that the conflict appeared to be turning violent. Violence did occur, but not in the way I expected and did not involve the characters I expected.

Chapter XVII provided some history of Agnes Gib, filling in some blanks and explaining some of the mystery surrounding her existence. Her dispute with her father and her isolation is explained. As part of that explanation, Garrett provides the following insight:

. . . . in that kind of contest he had the advantage of age. Age has all the time there is. Youth has neither past nor future, - only the present.
p. 146

Chapter XVIII placed Alex Thane in the middle of the action (after Garrett introduced him in earlier chapters describing the iron puddling process).

Much of the action and fateful consequences in Chapters XVIII and XIX result from misunderstandings among the characters. That the plot turned on mistakes, accidents and misunderstandings reminded me of Thomas Hardy's Return of the Native (1878). In this way, Cinder Buggy differs both from Ayn Rand and from Garrett's other works.

Rand's (and usually Garrett's) story plots are resolved on the basis of actions consistent with the character traits of the main characters. The plots are resolved not by accident, but by the logical extensions of the character flaws or strengths of the characters. Especially in the world of Ayn Rand, justice is eventually done. The conclusion of the story is the justice that results from the characters' choices. But Cinder Buggy seems to be heading in the direction of a plot resolution that results from accident as much as from the strengths and weaknesses of the main characters.

Click here for part 14.



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