TEC: Chapter 3: Laura…er, Shari
Let’s pop right to Chapter 3, as Murphy returns to work after the canyon escapade, since it’s super-short. In fact, the chapter is just barely over one page long, but that’s long enough to reinforce the extremely creepy way that Murphy equates his 21-year-old research assistant with his dead wife:
“This doesn’t have anything to do with Methuselah, does it?” [asked Shari]
Her words sounded just like something Laura would say. Ever since Laura had died, Shari had taken over the job of worrying about him.
Yeah, we know:
This is also the chapter in Ararat in which Murphy worries that his constant lying to Shari will get him “in trouble” with her.
I also mentioned back then that there are sound psychological reasons why poor, friendless orphan Shari would cling to this surrogate father figure, no matter how much he lies to her and belittles her and pawns off responsibilities onto her (like those puppies from Ararat, that are never seen again after Shari adopts them).
And I’m sure Murphy has his own reasons for treating Shari (and thinking of her) like a surrogate wife (without the sexual component, natch). Emotionally, it’s a lot “safer” for him to think of Shari that way, than it would be to build a relationship between two equal adults. The power imbalance in their relationship, both professional and religious, means Shari will never challenge him or argue with him the way Isis, for example, might. So Murphy gets the comfort of thinking of Shari as Substitute Laura, without having to actually act like a partner in an adult relationship.