Christmas Town: Chapter Seven, Part 2

Now that the Christmas decorations have been sold by the evil Grinch Jordan, who just wants people to get paid, Joella has to deal with her little brat, who, needless to say, is not taking this well.

She puts up with his pouting all evening, but when she urges him to “talk to God” about his upsettedness (since he won’t talk to her), his response cuts her to the quick.

“God doesn’t care,” he said, so faintly she almost missed it.

Well.  We can’t have that.

She couldn’t let skepticism take root in the heart of a seven-year-old child.  She just couldn’t.

Um, why not?  Nathan’s informed attribute is his intelligence and precociousness.  Seems like skepticism would be right at home in the heart of such a seven-year-old.

Joella urges Nathan to go with the whole “love your enemies” thingie, and is thrown when Nathan turns it around on her (I know, shocker, right?) and asks her if she loves Jordan.  Which, of course, she kinda does, even though she hates what he’s done and manipulates him and tried to keep from him the fact that half the town wanted to rip his lungs out even before the whole decorations debacle.

Jordan, meanwhile, is driving around the countryside, seriously considering just packing it up and dealing with the mess from his office in Atlanta.

But Dad!Uncle Billy is waiting for him back at the house, and seems to want a heart-to-heart.

“We really have put you in a pickle, haven’t we, son?”

OH GEEZ, DAD, DO YOU FUCKING THINK SO???  JUST COMING TO THIS CONCLUSION NOW, ARE WE?

Now, now, Ruby, don’t be so harsh.  This could be a breakthrough.  Maybe at least one of the Uncle Billys isn’t quite as criminally negligent as you thought…

“It’ll work out.”  [Jordan said]

Hope brightened Mitchell’s face.  “It will, won’t it?”

Well, scratch that.  Actually, it will almost certainly work out better now, since the mill workers weren’t going to be paid for December before, but now that Jordan has (as Vermic so aptly put it)  “tak[en] upon himself the blame, scorn, and punishment for the sins of others,” at least one crisis has been averted.

And hey, all it cost Jordan was his good name and the love and respect of a woman!

Jordan and Dad!Uncle Billy converse for several pages about Jordan’s mom, and how she loved running the mill and giving people a place to work, and I’m finding that hard to square against the fact that the whole place is failing and the workers have never had a decent wage and live in shitty little houses.  Are we meant to assume that this is just The Way Things Are, or that the Uncle Billys ran the place into the ground and the low quality of life has only been a phenomenon of the last ten years?

I would have guessed the latter, but Jordan’s takeaway is Door #3: it is all his fault for not taking up the running of the mill himself.

Because I guess it is a huge sin not to want to take over the family business.

CURSE YOU, JORDAN, FOR WANTING TO LIVE YOUR OWN LIFE AND HAVE YOUR OWN CAREER!  CURSE YOUUUUUUU!!!

And all this simply cements in Jordan’s mind that he has to finish this, and protect the Uncle Billys from the whole consequences-of-pissing-away-the-retirement-account thingie.

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Posted on December 17, 2012, in Books, Christmas, Christmas Town. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I rather want to rescue Jordan to some other fictional reality at this point. He’s a decent person doing his best – more than many people would in his situation – and I’m not even sure his author realizes it.

    Are we meant to assume that this is just The Way Things Are, or that the Uncle Billys ran the place into the ground and the low quality of life has only been a phenomenon of the last ten years?

    Based on the dialogue around the retired person a chapter or so back, I’m going with the former. Which really doesn’t make me like the author much.

    • Yeah, I think a little of the “submit cheerfully to authority and always stay happy in even a crappy situation” attitude bleeding through.

  2. If the mill was paying decent wages before and started paying crumbs only recently, I don’t think Joella would’ve found enough people willing to smile for her guilt-trip tour.

  3. I guess Jordan didn’t mind being manipulated by Joella because it would seem that his mom was some sort of Nicolae-esque master manipulator. Not only did she pay the whole town shit wages, she got them to love her for it.
    After living with someone like that, being dragged around a town on a minor guilt trip is hardly noticeable.

  4. Jordan and Dad!Uncle Billy converse for several pages about Jordan’s mom, and how she loved running the mill and giving people a place to work, and I’m finding that hard to square against the fact that the whole place is failing and the workers have never had a decent wage and live in shitty little houses.

    I don’t know what Jordan has to say about his mother’s contributions, but methinks the Uncle Billy stand-in is reminiscing through rosy, senility-tinted glasses. Unless the collapse of the mill’s finances was a REALLY recent occurrence and the two screw-ups somehow came up with a feasible way to keep their workers in the dark up until a month or two ago.

    Sheesh. This is as if George Bailey had chosen to go to college to become an architect like he wanted, and the board sided with Potter to close the Building and Loan after Peter Bailey died . . . and George returned home to find Pottersville was the reality instead of the alternate reality from Clarence. (I’m not saying that George did make the right decision for himself personally in staying in Bedford Falls. Yes, he ended up with a family he adored and he did a lot of good for the town, but there’s a strong undercurrent of real desperation and despair that never receeds after he realizes he’s stuck in Bedford Falls for good. It breaks my heart every time. And why am I writing a dissertation on “It’s A Wonderful Life” when I meant to examine Jordan’s circumstances? Meh.)

  5. …she loved running the mill and giving people a place to work, and I’m finding that hard to square against the fact that the whole place is failing and the workers have never had a decent wage and live in shitty little houses.

    You know, if you assume that Jordan’s mom thought living in shitty little houses in a company town and earning low wages was appropriate for millworkers, there’s not necessarily any conflict there. Especially if Jordan’s mom had lived all her life in that town, and the mill was always paying crap, she could very easily have internalized that state of affairs as Just The Way Things Are. Even once she was running the mill and could have chosen to raise wages, there’s always the temptation to rationalize that the workers have done okay for decades and they’ll be fine without a raise, particularly if profits weren’t great even under decent management.

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Round Up, December 21st, 2012 « The Slacktiverse

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