Silenced: Chapter 8, Part 1: Not Allowed to Be Happy or Smart
Having been encouraged by telling Straight how totally repulsed he is by bars and tattoo parlors, Paul now feels manly enough to talk to his horrible wife.
Paul is disappointed to find Jae in a state of…happiness.
And if there’s one thing Paul can’t stand, it’s for his wife to feel happy and fulfilled.
Jae tells him that she’s made her decision: she’s taking the job with Ranold.
Paul closed his eyes. That’s all he needed.
“Paul? Are you there?”
“You don’t sound happy.”
“Can’t say that I am.”
And if I’m not happy, YOU CAN’T BE EITHER, LITTLE WOMAN.
“Oh, Paul, I need this. It’ll be something to do all day, and it’ll be in my area of expertise. Mom will help with the kids, and I’ll be able to get to know Aryana better—you know, Berlitz’s wife.”
I love that Jae thinks she needs to remind Paul of Aryana’s name—Paul only has FOUR in-laws whose names he needs to know.
But Jae is certainly right in that Paul’s thoughts are—as always—only for himself.
While Jae had—to his knowledge—never been trained in espionage, he couldn’t know for certain that she herself wasn’t already onto him. He didn’t want to be paranoid, but he had to keep an edge, maintain his equilibrium. Her plan to work not just in Washington but also with the NPO and with Ranold could be part of an elaborate scheme for them to set him up.
Well, I guess it’s time for me to come right out with it: Paul is (sigh) mostly right. He should be paranoid and he is being set up. Not by Jae, mind you, who suspects nothing, but by Ranold, who most certainly does.
Gorammit, I hate when Paul is right. Or, I suppose, when Jenkins makes him right for no good reason.
(I should add that Ball Dangler and NPO International suspect nothing. This is purely an internal job on Ranold’s part. I love Ranold.)
Time for the money quote!
Again, the tightrope. If he tried to forbid Jae, she would defy him, no question. Plus he would look terrible.
Ah, honesty from Paul. FINALLY. He would forbid Jae, but, just like a flighty, impetuous woman, she would defy him. By the way, who is Paul to forbid Jae from doing anything? And how is Jae defying him? He is not the boss of her.
I know, I know. As a newly-minted RTC, any thoughts of equality in a marriage, if Paul ever had them (which he didn’t), are out the window. For it is said in the Holy Word of Gawd that the man shall be the boss over the lady-folk.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Ephesians 5: 22-24
Stupid Jae, thinking she has a say in her life and the lives of her children. Oh, and wanna know the fun part? That “submit to your husband” quote comes from the epistle to the people of Ephesus, which was allegedly written by Paul. The Biblical asshat Paul, not the asshat Paul from this book we’re reading.
“I so want you to be happy for me and proud of me.” [said Jae]
Paul couldn’t bring himself to say either.
Well, geepers, Paul, why not? No doubt doing so would make you look good.
But he doesn’t. So I guess that is how they end that, with Jae still planning to defy the wishes of her head-husband.
The brazen atheist. She shall soon learn.
When Straight called later in the day, suggesting she volunteer at PSL Hospital with him, she believed Paul had put him up to it in a last-ditch effort to thwart her plan.
Jae’s no dummy.
Straight was even more dead set against her going, telling her he had a very bad feeling about it.
You’d think Jae would pay more attention to Straight’s Magical Negro “feelings,” but nooooo…
To make herself feel better, Jae does what any atheist does when things aren’t going so well.
She reads the Bible.
This is an idea Jae came up with to have something she could talk about with Paul (since this is apparently a problem), though I’m a bit surprised that she’s starting now, after he shot down her idea.
If you’d like to read along with Jae, she’s starting with Acts (Paul took the Gospels with him to Europe). She’s thrown immediately by the first phrase:
Dear friend who loves God:
So right away, we can narrow down the version of the Bible that Jae has. For example, neither my New International nor my New Revised Standard start with that salutation. (Yes, I have multiple Bibles. They do so come in handy at times like these.) Jae might be reading from the Living Bible.
Not only did she not love God, but she had also been taught—and had always accepted—that there was no God. She had expected this experience to be strange, but she had not anticipated this. So these people, the writer, and apparently whoever was reading this letter, believed in God. And loved Him.
It’s kinda hilarious that Jae is thrown by this very simple turn of phrase. I get that she was raised an atheist, in Atheistopia to boot, but was she really never told that people who were religious, back on Earth That Was, believed in and loved their god(s)? Okay, so why does she think the world outlawed religion?
This is a pattern for Jenkins: assuming that if you were not raised Exactly RTC, you literally have no knowledge of very simply religious concepts.
See, for another example, Rayford Steele, a regular churchgoer (just not the right church) being thrown by the simple phrase, “The grace of the Lord be with you all. Amen.” (I’d link to the Slacktivist dissection of this passage, but Patheos isn’t playing nice.)
Jae then hits a reference to the Holy Spirit, and here I understand her confusion.
Tom Servo (as Jimmy): Sir, I just don’t understand the Holy Spirit. Is it a bird?
-MST3K, I Accuse My Parents
The only thing she can relate it to is A Christmas Carol, and I get that she makes that particular connection. The thing I don’t get is why Jae has read A Christmas Carol: shouldn’t such a work be banned in Atheistopia? Or maybe not. I mean, it’s not a religious text, is more about the spirit of giving than the importance of going to church, and the word “Jesus” doesn’t even appear in it, but it is about Christmas and the change that the goodwill of the season can cause in a person. It’s certainly a debatable point, but it is also one more instance of Jenkins not thinking through this whole “religion is banned” thing.
Then Jae hits a reference to Heaven, and is reminded of It’s a Wonderful Life, an even more overtly religious work than A Christmas Carol, and even more confusion reigns. Seriously, is religion outlawed or not, here?
Jae turns off the disc player out of frustration, but…
Strangely, the words kept working on her. She shuddered. So peculiar. Why should ancient texts bother her so? Jae turned the machine back on.
Awww, Jae has Jesus on her heart. Or the hounds of Heaven following her. Or whatever.
THAT IS SO FRAKKING CREEPY IT IS LIKE SHE IS BEING MIND-CONTROLLED
Jae makes it through the whole first chapter, and it turns out that she is well on her way to RTC Stepfordization:
Maybe she would listen to a little more as she worked, just to see if the story got better or there was some kind of character development.
Farewell, Jae. We all knew this would happen.