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From: Michael Straight <straight@email.unc.edu>
Subject: Re: (urth) Weer is not dead.
Date: Wed, 26 Aug 1998 13:58:49 

On Wed, 26 Aug 1998, William H. Ansley wrote:

> Rostrum (Michael Straight <straight@email.unc.edu>) said:
> >then, at the end of the book he wakes up, with the opportunity to make a
> >choice (perhaps the choice not to fight/kill Bobby that day?  Is that
> >where it all started to go wrong?)
> I really find it hard to support the idea that a five-year-old Alden Dennis
> Weer can be said to have *murdered* Bobby Black. They were engaged in what
> seems to be normal, if somewhat rough, play. 
> What I am trying to say here is that I find this event to be a very poor
> choice for a turning point in Weer's life, if it is one. Weer is too young
> to realize the consequences of his actions and his actions certainly do not
> lead inevitably to Bobby Black's death. It really is not a matter of
> choosing to push or not push Bobby, but a choice of whether to fight him or
> not fight (leaving capitulation or flight, if flight from the attic is even
> possible). So it seems to me that we have a boy of five who has to make a
> choice to eschew violence or embrace it, a choice that will change his life
> forever, if we accept that this is seminal event that forms Weer into what
> he becomes.
> Let me try to be clear (for a change) one final time. I think that the
> events that followed from Bobby Black's death (Weer's parents leaving for
> Europe for two (?) years without him and his time spent under the care of
> Aunt Olivia) definitely did have a great deal of influence on the man he
> grew into. But, if the outcome of the fight with Bobby was a test for Weer,
> I don't think it was a fair one.

I was arguing more that Bobby's death seems to have been an important
turning point.  Isn't there an implication that it had something to do
with Weer's parents leaving?  The way it is presented screams "this was a
formative event" and it is at least symbolic of Weer's lifelong choices
"to eschew violence or embrace it" even if you don't want to hold young
Dennis completely responsible for that particular event.

Would the "test" be more fair if the night before the fight, Dennis had a
dream revealing to him the consequences of a life embracing violence? :-)


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