Silenced: Chapter 4, Part 3: Need a Man in the House

As Paul and Ball Dangler discuss important, manly issues like sandwiches and how they are SO not bothered by rudeness, Jae is continuing her crisis of confidence back in Chicago.  It is getting into the evening, and she is feeling like the long days when the kids are at school are never going to end, because she apparently has no friends, no hobbies, and no books she has been waiting to read or shows she would like to watch.  Good damn, Jae, this is a gift.  Your horrible, emotionally abusive husband is in freaking Europe and your kids are in school all day.  I can think of approximately 7,612 things just off the top of my head that I could do with that kind of time on my hands.

To her credit, Jae considers both her father’s offer to work at the NPO in Washington, and the possibility of working locally.  But all that is pushed aside in the face of her childrens’ request: they miss their father (why is a mystery) but also hope they can continue to see Straight while Paul is gone.

Jae thinks it’s a good idea–she wants Straight to get to know her better, and thinks that she either intimidates him (a likely scenario, given Jae’s education and Straight’s RTC-ianity) and/or that he thinks little of her, given that he saw how she and Paul fought when he was blinded.

But Jae likes and respects Straight:

He was wise; there was no question of that.  And a servant.  In Jae’s book, anyone who turned his own tragedy and handicap into something positive was worthy of a pedestal.

Yeah, apart from his obnoxious and controlling need to touch people who don’t want to be touched, he’s a peach!

Jae’s book,” let’s remember, is the book of an atheist.  I can only imagine that Jae is already thinking of Straight in rather Biblical terms (“a servant“) because she is already a proto-RTC in Jenkins’ mind.

Also, it’s no wonder that Jae so admires Straight for doing something positive with his life (as far as she knows) after losing his family and his foot.  After all, Paul lost his sight and his hair and his career (or so it seemed at the time), and all he did was become even more of an abusive asshole than he already was.

As Jae mulls this over, the phone rings.  It is one of this book’s true heroes, Berlitz, calling to beg her to come to Washington.  Berlitz is a salesman, on the road Monday through Thursday, and wants Jae around so she can bond with Aryana.  And he wants to spend more time with Brie and Connor, and Ranold and Margaret (their mom) are all excited about it, too.  He’s actually kinda funny and adorable about the whole thing, as he paints the worst case scenario if Jae says no:

“I might start drinking more, being a worse husband—if that’s possible—neglect my ma, who is also your ma, you remember.  I might not even keep trying to be the son Dad wants me to be.  I’ll be a drunk, old orphan, divorced three times, and it’ll be all your fault.  You could save me with this one little decision.”

At least he had made Jae laugh.

And I have a feeling that laughter is a rare thing in Jae’s life.  Gorammit, why isn’t this book about the awesome adventures of Berlitz, the awesome atheist travelling salesman?  He makes a hella better protagonist than Paul.


Posted on August 24, 2013, in Books, Silenced. Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. inquisitiveraven

    “I might start drinking more, being a worse husband—if that’s possible—neglect my ma, who is also your ma, you remember. ”

    And once again Jenkins comes up with a line of dialogue that no one would use in real life.

  2. “I might start drinking more, being a worse husband—if that’s possible—”
    No, no, that isn’t possible. He’s already an atheist, you can’t be a worse husband than that, obviously.

    And yeah, Jae and the kids just miss their dad soooooo much. Because he’s been soooooo nice to them ever since his conversion. Well, presumably he was nice, somewhere between the end of Soon (where Paul was still mistrusting Jae for comming back to him exactly as he wanted her to) and the beginning of this book. So we’ve never seen what a great husband and father Paul became, we’re merely told that he’s been great during the timeskip.

    Oh, Jenkins, don’t you ever change.

    Wait…. scratch that. Jenkins, for the love of all that’s holy, change!

  3. “Paul and Ball Dangler discuss important, manly issues like sandwiches and how they are SO not bothered by rudeness” — so of course I instantly picked up on a pair of Church Ladies having that conversation…

    “I miss Daddy.”

    “I know, dear. Come out in the backyard, we’ll put some tins on the wall and you can get some practice in.”

  4. This really feels like Jenkins is trying to repurpose Jae to be the wonderful helpmeet and “good wife” so beloved of the pro-family hagiographic writings of Christian fundamentalists, and doing so in his usual clumsily hamfisted approach to writ… I mean crapping these books out.

  5. I can think of approximately 7,612 things just off the top of my head that I could do with that kind of time on my hands.

    Filing for divorce being job #1.

  6. He was wise; there was no question of that. And a servant.

    This is really, really not helping overcome the “Magical Negro” stereotype.

    • Even if it wasn’t, I’m not sure it is a good idea to use that “compliment” for any African American character, especially if it’s the only one in the story. “What a great specimen, how kind and ready to help the white characters he is, just as he was meant to be.”

      I mean, Jenkins typically showers his characters with compliments, but how often have his white characters been complimented on their servitile nature? Other than Bruce Barnes, with the awesome burden he carried and the great pilar he was for his parish. Even though he did nothing except hold the occasional Sunday seremon, if he wasn’t globetrotting with Tsion.

      Oh, wait, the Left Behind movie cast a black actor for his part, didn’t it?

      • Yup. And I suspect that may be one of L&J’s objections to it. Because after all he’s an Important Character (until he’s replaced) and part of LaHaye’s author self-insertion along with Rayford.

      • I suppose, arguably Paul himself has been complimented for being helpful to Jae, carrying luggage and whatnot. Even though *we* would more likely call it “being a decent human being” than “servile”, in the eyes of the story it’s played up as something of a big deal.

        I don’t think that Straight really fits the Magical Negro template, for the record; but if you’re going to write a black character, it’s helpful to try to avoid … unfortunate connotations. And “servant” is one of those. I am sure Jenkins meant the word in a completely innocent Christian servant-of-God sense, but … well, it’s just unfortunate, that’s all.

        (The line clunks even harder because, as Ruby noted, it’s Christianese jargon being used by a technically-still-atheist Jae.)

  7. Hmm, I may be misremembering, but when Straight came along, didn’t Paul go from being even more abusive than usual to basically abandoning Jae to spend all his time with Straight? I don’t think I would want to spend time with the person my husband was having an emotional affair with. On the other hand, Jae has a lot of experience being cheated on, so maybe she was just relieved to get out of being Paul’s punching bag.

    • You know, I’m just reading this book by Ann Rule now, called Too Late To Say Goodbye and it occurs to me that the relationship between Paul and Jae is a lot like Bart and Jenn Corbin’s. Bart was demanding and egotistical, and had very little tolerance for even the hint that Jenn might be cheating, but regularly cheated on her when it suited him to do so.

      • I just finished Fatal Vision (I’m behind the times, I know), and same deal: Jeffrey MacDonald was obsessed with the idea of whether his (murdered, pregnant) wife had slept with a previous boyfriend years ago and before they were married, but saw nothing remotely wrong with the serial cheating he did before the murders, and the succession of girls right after the murders.

    • You’re not misremembering. Jae was annoyed by the amount of time Paul spent with Straight in Soon, to the exclusion of his family. (Though why she actually wanted him around is a different question.

      Now, in Silenced, turns out Jae is jealous of how much Straight likes her kids:

      “He called [the kids] by name, lifted and swung them in circles, sometimes pretended to chase them.

      In fact, there had been times when Jae wished Straight would pay her half as much attention.”

      So presumably when Straight comes over for dinner, he’ll call Jae by name, lift and swing her around, and pretend to chase her.

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Round Up, September 1st | The Slacktiverse

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: