We’re never more popular than when we’re dying and in possession of something someone hopes to get from us. Mr. Featherstone is very popular now and no wonder he’s such a crank with family resembling vultures.
Mr. Trumbull is a fun buffoon, a real “bookman” who can’t pronounce the book titles. Ha!
Unlike Dorthea, Rosamond knows what she’s doing. She may have some naive notions about what marrying Lydgate would entail, however, she plays the social game so well that any defect in Lydgate could be smoothed over by her ability. And I really did feel for her when after (only) 10 days went by with no Lydgate she was actually upset. And it was a tender moment between them.
At least Dona Lupa had to suffer a little bit by staying up all night with Maurica. It’s not easy doing a good deed.
As mad as Mauricia is she does speak some truth in her terrible rants. She says what nobody else will, albeit cruelly, but she doesn’t care about appearances like Feijoo warned Fortunata to care for. She’s the wild everyone tries to keep covered up.
Continuing to amaze we get a debauched, sacrilegious scene of the bonfire and children jumping like goats around it. Viaticum, they call it. What an image. I bet Mauricia is lapsing out of her virtuous state to something more base.
Fortunata and Jacinta meet (again), and this time are near each other, but Jacinta doesn’t know it’s Fortunata. And Fortunata is tormented by what she feels here. This is the first real narrative we get inside her mind.
Dona Lupa’s thoughts about Mauricia are typical of so many people. Mauricia is an addict, true, but that’s all Lupa sees and she condemns the dying woman on her own deathbed, even with her daughter present. Sad. Mauricia knows her daughter will be reminded of her bad mother instead of the boogeyman.
One of the powerful effects of religion is its ability to help ease the terror of dying. All this ceremony is impressive and helps the victim focus on something else and makes them feel a part of everyone present. There is a lot of loneliness in dying that a secular attitude can only coldly present.
“… as if someone were sweeping notes down the street.”
The children all gathered in the doorway believing “the ceremony couldnt take place without them.” This quick POV shift is one of the many genius qualities of the novel. We know these children feel this way because of Guillermina. And it’s also a perceptive observation of human nature we can all relate to. Small moment; incredibly important.
Guillermina goes through all this trouble for Mauricia, a woman addict who has been half the time a terror to the church and fall down drunk. Yet we get all this ceremony for her as if she were a queen (or Napoleon himself). To think such a fuss would be made for us.
Mauricia is not dead (earlier I thought she might be from the stiff as a board description. Almost seems like whenever Fortunata starts to play the game Mauricia goes on a bender.
Dona Lupe wants them to wipe their muddy feet on the neighbors doormat, not their own. Ha! “The less we stamp on ours the better.”
This final paragraph (before chapter 3) is what Tolstoy was talking about, how you can’t say what event caused some other event (like dominoes), but rather it was a million minute moments influencing a million others, none of which you could point to and say “this is the linchpin that changed everything”.
Well obviously now that Dona Lupe sees that Fortunata has some money she will consider her repentance as sincere. Goes to show how money can sweep a lot under the rug, poor people get no confidence.
An image of a hook is repeated (twice) here. First as Dona Lupe sees Guillermina carrying one, and again when she says that if even a slouch like Maximiliano can get a cannonship then he should hook it. Getting what we want.
Dona Lupe considers charity, building an institution, asking for money… but the thought ends with how large the building would be = she only wants to outdo everyone, not for the right reasons.
How to spot good writing: in this scene, which has been set up with a) how orderly Dona Lupe is and how that’s been upended a little from the move, and b) how she uses her time to think, we get her pondering morality by invoking a) Guillermina, and b) Feijoo. All these things are bound together and this is a master writer in full possession of the craft.
Dona Lupe, through her arrogance (I use the word gently), always manages to think her current situation is the best situation. No matter where she lives or what she’s doing, she considers it the best. You could call this optimism too, but with her it’s arrogant.
Compare Feijoo to Guillermina. He has lived for himself his entire life but at the end is in a strong position to provide handsomely for his friends and family. She too provides but by scavenging everything now, even if it’s not the highest quality to get the good works done. His is a life enjoyed, her’s is more of a constant practical struggle. I like his way, to be honest.
What’s interesting is that Feijoo is not a cynic. He’s quite happy with how the world works and just because he sees inconsistentes doesn’t mean he thinks the world is bad. He’s a very modern man. He believes in God, but not the way a devout would. He’s a humanist who understands how important tradition and appearances are. Remarkable character, really. Probably the best character in the novel.
He’s teaching her how to navigate society. All people in the upper classes do what he’s telling her and this knowledge is really all that separates us from animals. And it’s a thin veneer. The illusion of society is just that, an illusion made to keep from hurting everyone’s feelings. Figuring out how to get what you want still is the trick.