Paul’s Asshattery, Chs. 14-36

OMG YOU GUISE I ALMOST FORGOT

I polled you about Paul’s nastiest statement to Jae in the first part of Soon.  But now, we are near the end of the book, and we haven’t had an official update on Paul’s dickishness!

So, here it is.  This poll may be complicated by the fact that Paul is a Christian for much of the second half of the book, and thus is less likely to say horrible things to his wife’s face.  Instead, he just thinks them or says them to a friend.  I have included such statements, but if you feel these answers shouldn’t count…well, pick a direct-to-Jae statement, I guess!

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Posted on March 23, 2012, in Books, Polls, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. My vote is for the chapter 21 quote. Nothing else quite sums up the horrible, hypocritical abusive douchebaggery of Paul quite like that. He’s above his own laws, or found absolution and forgiveness in himself, and Jae’s characterization falling apart into an abuse apologist ain’t helping me see him as anything more than a majestic turdflower in full bloom. (Disclaimer: Metaphors may not presently be up to 100% quality or above 4th grade. It’s been a long day.)

    Looking forward to the next post and finding out how badly Jenkins buggers up an ending this time!

  2. Seconded. The first one is… dismissive of appropriate concern but by Pauls baseline not that bad. I’m sure there have been worse things said to or about Jae that aren’t on the list, though I can’t remember them right now. Number two and four are both acknowledgements that he just doesn’t like Jae anymore (and if I’m being extremely generous, number two is a not entirely unjustified concern that Paul should probably worry that people who have grown up with the knowledge that religion is evil might not understand his conversion). They’re still douchy due to the fact that he feels like that, never worries about feeling like that, yet still plans to put that woman back in her place below him. He knows his new boss wants him to live with her as is proper for an RTC, but he doesn’t want her and never puts a moments thought in how it must feel for Jae to come back to a man who openly despises her.

    But still, it doesn’t top number three. “You won’t believe how offended I am that after years of serial cheating you mistrusted me so much that you looked at my stuff and found my correspondense with a woman I in fact was hoping to fuck untill a week ago. But I changed my mind, not that I trust you enough to tell you that I did or why (see number two), so it’s totally unjust.” The scene might have been salvagable if we’d have seen that Paul tries to explain to her that he’s now in contact with her because they’re both zealots, realizes that he can’t just say that to the daughter of the Atheistapo big shot who is pissed with him, then is forced to make do with poor excuses. A falsly accused person struggeling with the fact that he can’t give the proof for his innocence because that will reveal something worse is a familiar scene. But as far as I can tell, Paul never thinks about that. He really does think he’s being unjustly treated, and this bullshit is his plan A defense.

    • He really does think he’s being unjustly treated, and this bullshit is his plan A defense.

      I’m not sure he even really sees this as a defense. In his head, Jae has offended against *him* – he’s in no mood to be forgiving of her sins, seeing as how they follow on so many other sins against him.

      I think Paul’s very much of the “it’s good to be the King” line of thinking, except somehow he’s failed to notice he’s not actually the king…

      • Good point, I used the word ‘defense’ because that is what one would usually associate with someone denying that they are cheating on their spouse. But I’m not even sure Paul had the basic awareness that he has any need to defend himself. He’s not doing a “It’s not what it looks like”, but an “You think this ‘looks like’ something? How dare you look at all without my permission”.

        It’s mystifying, because Jenkins firmly established heathen!Paul as a repeated cheater and showed him trying to get into Angela’s panties. Did he completely forget about that? Or does he remember and does he really believe that since christian!Paul has secretly come to realize he shoudn’t have sex with Angela no matter how much he still wants to, it’s completely out of line for his wife to even think about it. Or in RTC terms, he’s born again, all previous sins forgiven by Jesus, so Jae should naturally sense that and forgive him for everthing too, no questions asked. Like she does at the end of this wretched novel.

        Seriously, what was the ‘Jae is still unhappy and moves out’ subplot even about? It didn’t trigger any character development in Paul (ha!), it didn’t cause any interesting events because it’s resolved automatically (but with Paul still being a suspicous ass about it), it has zero influence on his interaction with Angela because he’s still in ‘yeah I wanna bone you silly, but y’know, married’-mode when they’re together in Las Vegas. Even by this godawful book’s standards it accomplished nothing.

        • Grammar Police

          “He’s not doing a “It’s not what it looks like”, but an “You think this ‘looks like’ something? How dare you look at all without my permission”.”

          Or, “How dare you think without my permission?”
          .

          SOON is perfectly typical of Jenkins’s Manly Men Turned Christian (TM) — they maintain all the horrible behaviors they had as evil heathens, and then adopt insufferable smugness towards the poor, unenlightened heathens on top of that.

          As for Jae . . . ugh to what Jenkins did to her. He couldn’t allow her to maintain a semblance of independence or common sense, but didn’t have the time or will to actually SHOW (story of his stories much?) Paul winning Jae back. Or Jae getting brainwashed into becoming the perfect fertile ground for Jesus’s Magic Words (TM). Thus we have the giant plot hole with bonus character whiplash.

          • It’s a shame Jenkins didn’t write Paul with the same hilarious sexual tension he did with Buck Williams towards Carpathia. All we’re left with is the tension of wanting to throw the book across the room. Or, more properly for most of us, check it out from the library for the purpose of throwing it across the room.

            Jae’s character turn is downright unsettling. It’s like Bodysnatchers territory, really. There’s something intrinsically creepy about realizing that your mental picture of a person suddenly and radically different. It’s made for some damn good horror movie plots, and man, this feels like one too.

            If only this was as good and intentional as those flicks. Although, really, the unintentional nature of it makes it all the more disturbing in some ways.

          • Grammar Police and Kandosii—If you think Jae’s bad off, just wait until we meet up with Dr. Isis Proserpina McDonald again…

          • RubyTea. they’ll never take Meta-Isis!

        • It’s mystifying, because Jenkins firmly established heathen!Paul as a repeated cheater and showed him trying to get into Angela’s panties. Did he completely forget about that? Or does he remember and does he really believe that since christian!Paul has secretly come to realize he shoudn’t have sex with Angela no matter how much he still wants to, it’s completely out of line for his wife to even think about it.

          I think, rather, he thinks that a wife has no right to be critical of her husband. No other details of the personality of either one or of their relationship needed: A wife never has a right to be critical of her husband.

          • Could be. I think we have Rayford’s old wife, who we don’t get to meet. But from what we hear, she was constantly nagging Chloe about converting, but Rayford never mentions that. He knew she was into that church and read her Bible and all that, but as far as I know she was never impressing on Rayford the need to convert now, cause that is not her place. In Apocalypse we have Abby who nags her no-good son but never her husband. And those are RTC wifes with unsaved husbands. So yeah, I guess what an unsaved wife is allowed to say to her RTC husband is even less.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        I’m not sure he even really sees this as a defense. In his head, Jae has offended against *him* – he’s in no mood to be forgiving of her sins, seeing as how they follow on so many other sins against him.

        He’s a Sixties-vintage Excedrin Headache commercial: “Me Man! Me Want fill-in-the-blank! You Woman! You Shut Up!”

        Guy would fit right in at Mars Hill Seattle.

  3. And in Glorious Appearing/Kingdom Come, Rayford tells Irene “You are entitled to one cosmic I-told-you-so,” and Irene responds that she wouldn’t dream of it.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      New Spirit of Christ within her or Good Widdle Wifey? (“What is Thy will, Milord Husband? How might I better Submit?”)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Never mind that the original Greek word translated “Submit” in “Wives, submit to your husbands” has a dual meaning of “Respect” as in “Wives, respect your husbands”…

      • Mm, kinky. Except it’s horrifying because it’s not negotiated.

  4. I’m going to go with 4, because I keep thinking “If rebuilding with Jae is a chore, DON’T FUCKING DO IT!”. It’s not good for you, even if you are a selfish douche-bag, but it’s really not good for Jae. She should not be treated like a coworker you have to deal with because you really like your job. She is not a chore- she is supposed to be your damn partner in crime.

    It’s possible that the reason I find that one so hateful is because it never actually explains why he should continue the relationship. If he views her with the equivalent disgust of taking out the garbage, that is not love. That’s not healthy. That’s not beautiful, transcendent, or holy- and that’s a firmly committed naturalistic agnostic atheists using those adjectives. Marriage is the unqualified good because…because it is.

    • I voted for 3, but 4 is definitely awful, and I wavered between the two.

      One thing that’s so gross about 4 is that neither Paul nor Jenkins recognize it as the betrayal it is. Not only has Paul decided he doesn’t want to be with Jae, without letting her in on it, but he also wants to be with someone else. I would rather have a husband who boinks random women just because he can than a husband who never has sex with anyone else, but wishes he could replace me. I think the former might be fixable with counseling. If not, “my husband has no impulse control” would hurt a lot less as a reason for divorce than “my husband no longer cares for me one bit and would rather be with that woman there.”

  5. 4 is awful, but I have to go with 3 because Paul actually says it to Jae. He’s actively abusing her there.

    It also encapsulates Paul’s personality perfectly. He’s aggrieved because Jae dared to stand up for herself for once. He’s destroyed their marriage — if they ever really had one in the first place. And he’s not going to lift one little finger to rebuild it, because he won’t believe that he’s responsible for the wreckage. Instead, he’ll keep abusing Jae, because it’s all somehow her fault. It can’t be his fault, he’s perfect now.

  6. I’ll grant you that the quote from Chapter 21 really sums up Paul’s attitude toward Jae. But in the quote from Chapter 27 Paul commits adultery, at least by Jesus standards (whosoever lusteth after a woman in his heart etc etc). If “Angela was everything Jae was not” doesn’t describe lusting after another woman I don’t know what does. The fact that Jenkins goes to great lengths to show Paul avoiding lying yet fails to even notice Paul sinning mightily here really sums up everything wrong with Jenkin’s portrayal of Paul’s post-conversion view of women in general.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      The fact that Jenkins goes to great lengths to show Paul avoiding lying yet fails to even notice Paul sinning mightily here…

      Ever heard of the phrase “follow the letter of the law, but not the spirit”?

      And 2000 years ago, a certain itinerant Rabbi from Nazareth had a LOT to say about that attitude/workaround, none of it good. Especially when it pertains to religion and representing God.

      • Castigation of such an attitude probably doesn’t adhere so well when such ones think the letter IS the spirit (q.v. the seeming hostility towards the idea that God would even consider using metaphor without explaining it).

    • Except Paul’s thinking there, not doing anything. What he says to Jae is an action, and a horrifically abusive one. Paul’s thoughts show the reader what kind of man he is, but in real life I would never tell anyone they’re utterly terrible for thinking something. We all have thoughts we’re not thrilled with. And now that I’m considering it more carefully, I can imagine a decent person thinking what Paul thinks there, in other contexts. After all, lots of decent people get divorced.

      I’ll try to put this in a milder context that is something that decent people actually do and should not feel guilty for. If my guy thinks, “wow, that woman’s hot,” I don’t care. I don’t expect his libido to be some magical thing that disappears when I’m not around and is only concentrated in me. And I wouldn’t be with him if he expected that of me. But there is no way I can figure out a milder thing that decent people actually do for #3. Decent people just don’t do what Paul’s doing there unless they have a very compelling reason. They particularly don’t gaslight their spouses in order to pretend said spouses are being horribly “unjust” for suspecting them of cheating when they’ve cheated dozens of times before!

      In my opinion, that quote by Jesus doesn’t mean what people usually seem to think it means. He’s not saying “how dare you have naughty thoughts you naughty boy!” Instead, he’s doing what he always does: turning things around on the oppressors. When I see that quote, I see Jesus saying, “you violent, judgmental men are a bunch of hypocritical jerks.” They pretend sin is in the women they lust after, and not in themselves. That pretense, and the oppression and violence they commit to keep up that pretense, is the real sin.

      • I can see your point for not punishing thoughts. Let’s just say that if thoughts are punishable, I should really hope there isn’t a hell (well, I’m an atheist, so I need to hope that anyway :p) . But although I agree 3 is the worst of the bunch, 4 is worse than just thinking another woman is hotter than your wife due to the context.

        The second part of that quote, thinking rebuilding with Jae is a chore, starts giving more unpleasant context. But it could still be salvagable. I mean, rebuilding your relationship with someone you’ve been hostile to for years and just walks out IS difficult, and will involve unpleasant conversations. But you might want to do that, because you remember the good times with that person, or realize you hurt them and want to make it up, or perhaps you don’t want your children to suffer due to your divorce.

        But Paul doesn’t want any of that. He doesn’t want Jae back at all. He wants an intact marriage to show to Jesus on judgement day. If that means stomaching his wife’s presence, so be it. And I don’t think he ever thought about how this would be for the kids, or even that he, personally, might miss them if the mother gets custody. I don’t think ‘who gets custody’ ever came up. In short, he might want her back as a wife, but not a person. And this never bothers him at all. At the time of this quote, he might go so far as to fake liking Jae and of course giving up physically cheating, but he doesn’t realize or care that still-atheist Jae will not care Paul only wants her back in his house so he can please god. It gets even worse later when he doesn’t even need to fake anything, Jae comes crawling back, and Paul reacts with paranoia. But hey, that’s a bit beyond the quote.

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