Soon: Chapter 1: Paul and Jae and Height
So, Paul is a serial-cheating jerk (who may or may not also be a date-rapist!), and Jae is a shrewish harpy.
Can this marriage be saved? Must it be Saved to be saved?
Hell, why did Jae marry this ass in the first place?
Well, Jenkins tells us. Sorta.
First, he grinds the action (such as it is) to a halt with some details of Stepola/Decenti relations. Now, written by a good writer, exposition can be a perfectly good and useful tool, letting us in on characters’ backgrounds and helping us to understand and identify with them.
So, here it is: This is the first…sigh…Wintermas that the Stepolas have ever spent with the Desentis, because Paul’s mother died of brain cancer that fall, and she was alone while the Desentis were not. (Paul’s father was killed in WWIII.) The grandchildren are “formally acknowledged” by their grandparents. Ranold B. Decenti takes every opportunity he can to disparage Paul’s job. Paul can’t even decide (after knowing him for more than 10 years) how he should address Ranold. And, as already discussed, he can’t stand to be in the same room as his wife. So, basically, everyone hates and/or resents everyone else.
Well, ’tis the season! 😀
Then, after hearing these uttery banal details of their sinful atheistic lives, we are told of Paul and Jae’s courtship: they met in graduate school. Paul was studying religion (on his atheist mother’s recommendation), and Jae, economics.
[Jae] was tall and lithe, a celebration for the eyes. He–she said–would easily pass muster with her father, an ex-army general and one of the founding fathers of the NPO. They married in 26 P.3., right after grad school.
Well, hey, when based on nothing more than prettiness and parental approval, how could a marriage not thrive for forevermore?
I’m just astonished that Jenkins mentioned that Jae is tall. That’s a helluva lot more description than we usually get of his female characters. In fact, both he and Tim LaHaye tend to confine their description to their male heroes, and then, solely to height. Rayford Steele is six-four, Michael Murphy is six-three, just like Paul. I wonder if Jenkins promised LaHaye that he would never make another hero as tall as Ray-Gun.
Like “drop-dead gorgeous” Hattie Durham, we have no more specific idea of Jae’s looks than that she is “a celebration for the eyes.” Whose eyes? Well, Jenkins’, I suppose. And Paul’s, at least until the first half-drunk co-worker turned his head. Again, shades of Babylon Rising–even after she’s dead, we have no idea what Laura Murphy looked like, except that her husband thought her beautiful. Do LaHaye and Jenkins just not care about appearance, as long as the men are tall and the women are gorgeous? Do they think the utter lack of description makes us identify with the heroes more?
Pity the short RTC man or the non-gorgeous RTC woman who reads these and just can’t identify with the characters, because how can you identify with a character unless they are just a placeholder for your own reflection?