Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chapter Forty-Seven

I don't even know where to begin. Which is maybe ironic since we're at the end of our tale. Honestly, a lot of what's gone on in this book bothered me. But I am finding myself exceedingly uncomfortable with this scene. Noah's torture has moved to the next phase. The make or break period, if that's an appropriate term here. Noah is wired up for electroconvulsive therapy, better known as electroshock. The "main purpose was plain: to destroy any remaining will to resist or evade, so the truth would be the only thing he'd be left capable of speaking."

I've some knowledge of the hows and whys of ECT, and if my experience can be used as reference here, let me just say, the author's whole notion of electroconvulsive therapy completely misses the mark. Not that this is a surprise, not much in this book strives for realism.

A rubber hose is jammed in Noah's mouth and "technicians administered the voltage with a jeweler's precision."

His mind, once his greatest, if least used, asset, was no longer under his control. He couldn't focus on the technicians or the pain and he'd long ago stopped wondering how much longer it would go on. All that was left were random snapshots of the past that flashed uninvited into his head.

All his defenses had left him hours before. In this state if he'd had any information to reveal he would have gladly offered it, but they were now probing for something much deeper than mere intelligence. Each time he thought there was nothing left, they found another fragile layer of his soul to peel away. In the end, when all he could see was darkness, whatever was left of him finally gave in and tried its best to surrender.

I'm not sure what "his mind, once his greatest, if least used, asset" means. Noah is, I thought, something of a PR genius, like his father. Or is he just a doofus who's excelled because of nepotism? The later doesn't seem to fit with Darthur's worldview of "it's the fit who'll survive." (See below.)

"Now, now, Noah, I think we are both finding out what kind of man you are, and I have to tell you, it's quite disappointing." He referred briefly to a sheet of notes he'd been handed. "Inconclusive. I'm sure you know, that's a word I hate more than any other. And doesn't it place a sad little period at the end of the story of a rather aimless and forgettable young life?

"While you've given us nothing that implicates you in the treachery of the preceding days, you've also said nothing to exonerate yourself to my side of the conflict. A true believer or a traitor to the cause, either one of those I could at least respect. But you're weak, aren't you? And fatally so."

Aimless and forgettable young life? Doesn't Noah work with his father at Doyle & Merchant as a PR executive? As I recall, Noah went to college, took up the family business, and seemed to excel at it. But now this is aimlessness? Whatever.

Speaking of aimlessness. A long passage of dialogue from Darthur:

"Noah, I last told you this when you were only a boy, so I doubt you'll remember. It's a rhyme I made up for you, in answer to some childish question you'd posed. I think it fitting in our present situation."

'There are men who are weak and few who are strong / There are men who are right and more who are wrong / But of all the men huddled in all the world's hives / There's but one thing that's true: It's the fit who'll survive.'

"Noah, the meek will not inherit the earth. A faint heart is as great a weakness as a feeble mind. It pains me to say it, but I'm afraid we've reached a parting of the ways."

Also aimless? (Or something.) Garbage ghostwriting:

It was then that Noah felt something beneath him, and behind him, all around him—something outside himself that he couldn't quite identify.

His father's mind, his mother's heart. What the old man had given him was all that these men could tear away, but it was her heart that they couldn't quite reach. His mother had passed it on to him, and even after her strength had lain unused and scarcely remembered for all these wasted years, it seemed that Molly Ross had somehow awakened it again.

The idea of dying wasn't nearly as frightening as he would have thought it would be. But somewhere he also knew that this wasn't how it was supposed to end. Molly had taught him the importance of living to fight another day. She hadn't been captured, she hadn't been killed. A spirit like that doesn't die so easily. He had no facts whatsoever to assure him of this, but he knew it. Maybe it was a bit of that faith that she'd spoken of.


So, basically, Molly's ghost, or non-ghost (a spirit like that doesn't die so easily) has awakened his heart. With the lying, and the drugging and the manipulation? Huh? And, as I've mentioned previously, how is that Noah was so easily and completely brainwashed by the teabaggers? If he's so easily led, why can't Darthur bring him back? What garbage. Thankfully we're just a few paragraphs from the end of this chapter. Hang in there, kids!

Darthur tells the techs to "finish the job and then craft a story to ensure my son is remembered in a way that will bring dignity and honor to our family." Whuh? Wevs.

There was a way out of this, but Noah didn't know what it was until he heard the answer whispered at his ear, as though Molly were there right beside him. The fight would go on, she'd said, with her on the outside and him on the inside, where she'd already shown him that the deepest kind of damage could be done. And then she added one thing more:

Don't be afraid.


"As it will be in the future," he whispered, "it was at the birth of Man."

He didn't even know if he was saying the words aloud or reciting them only in his mind. "There are only four things certain since Social Progress began." His father's hand was on the doorknob when he suddenly froze and looked back.

"What did you say?" the old man asked.

Noah continued, his voice becoming stronger. "That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire." His father had taken a few steps closer to him now. "And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire."

Arthur Gardner's usually dispassionate face, so long accustomed to the denial of emotion, could not contain his surprise.


For those who don't remember, that's from Darthur's favorite poem. See chapter eighteen. I do love the totally not cliché bit where Darthur's "hand was on the doorknob" as Noah speaks. Ah, the tension, you could cut it with a spork! Noah, seconds from death, suddenly turns the tables.

Noah realized something else then, another thing that Molly had taught him: When you lie for a living, you sometimes can't see the truth even when it's staring you right in the face. That's a weakness that could clearly be exploited.

Oh, Noah! You cheeky monkey! You've got Darthur right where you want him, haven't you? " The fight would go on, she'd said, with her on the outside and him on the inside." Goodness, this is certainly a surprise! Okay, well, it's certainly something.

Noah felt himself fading, and he spoke again, but scarcely at a whisper. These words were meant for different ears, and wherever Molly was, he knew for certain she would hear them.

"We have it in our power," Noah said, "to begin the world over again."

Dry heave.

Okay, that wraps up this chapter. Molly hears his words, he hears hers. Maybe she really is a Jedi. I dunno. Discuss.

(One more post to go, just FYI.)


  1. This book does not make any bloody sense! I have no idea what any of the characters want or why they do any of the things they do. Nothing holds together - individual passage might make sense (or at least you know why the author put them there), but the over all story is incoherent nonsense.

    What the hell were they torturing him for? Fun? As a test for superpowers? WHAT? *bangs head on desk* What was the point of the plot with the bomb - from either (any?) side? Does this book make even a tiny bit more sense if one reads the whole thing? (Not that I'd want to touch it with a ten foot poll.) From here, it might as well be random words strung together. Hell, that might make more sense.

  2. So as near as I can tell. Darthur is torturing his own son to... break him. I think. Beck is clearly saying that torture is bad, mmkay? when it's done to God-fearing, right-thinking, right-winging Americans. But what is the purpose of this? What's the purpose of the bomb? What's the purpose of ANY Of this dreck?

    I suspect that this is a book of triggers.

    The audience Beck is pandering to/riling up is set off with certain triggers. They're a people who are deeply afraid, and yet they get energized and feel alive when they're afraid and think they can do something about the source of that fear. Beck is pushing every button, every trigger he can find in the Tea Party, and hoping to cash in on that fear by giving them a hope that IT WON'T HAPPEN BUT ONLY IF YOU'RE TRUE TO YOUR VALUES! Except it's the hope of the gun.

    Sure. Beck isn't promoting violence against the government and fellow citizens. Sure he isn't. And I just saw an ornithological porcine drifting by my window.