From: "Roy C. Lackey"
Subject: Re: (urth) PEACE: Smart's relatives Date: Sat, 19 Oct 2002 02:17:19 -0500 mantis writes: >Anyway, the question of Smart having closer relatives than Weer. Yes, >Smart does talk about the help he had from relatives, but that was when he >was 20-something, and it is not likely that those relatives were younger -- >rather, that they were older. > >Let's say Smart was born in 1900, when life expectancy for a man was around >48 (iirc), and died in 1963 at age 63. Any relative who was old enough to >help him when he was 20-something would be 70 or 80-something after he died! Those "cousins" he mentioned would have been his own age. >Smart seems like a self-made man (many ways similar to Baldanders). If >any of those relatives had managed to put him onto a job, he probably would >have maintained ties to those relatives; but since they didn't, he doesn't. >He found Mr. Tilly on his own, after riding milk trains; he found Olivia on >his own, with some debt to Professor Peacock who knew her/courted her >first. From my figuring above there could be three generations of >relatives that he knows nothing about, and likewise, those myriads of >Smarties don't know a fraction about the factory that even a cold house >worker knows, let alone a long-term engineer like Weer. We know almost nothing about Smart's life beyond the few autobiographical details he divulges in the course of telling the Tilly tale. We know from nine-year-old Den that Smart couldn't have been much more than twenty-five when he told that story. If we assume that the details are true (and if we don't, where are we?!), then somehow _both_ of Smart's parents conspired to die in the few years since he graduated from college (and I've brought this up before). To me that's a red flag; too many people died too conveniently to Smart's advantage--his parents, Tilly, Olivia, and possibly Peacock. How is it that Smart even knew Peacock? The most obvious connection is the university at which Peacock taught. Smart had likely gone to school there. The university was just thirty-five miles from Cassionsville, and Smart grew up in the area. We know this because he said he didn't want to buy Tilly's drugstore because he "wanted to get back closer to the farm" (148). Assuming Smart had no siblings, his parent's death left him owning a chunk of real estate that was worth a tidy sum of money to him in the go-go 1920s. That has to be a source of his start-up money for the plant; Smart was no farmer. So those relatives were not "distant", geographically. BTW, why would Smart have assumed that Peacock might have told Olivia that Tilly died, before Smart had even met her? (148) More than once in the course of the Tilly tale, Smart remarks upon how handsomely Tilly had paid him. He's a liar. He knew Tilly less than a week, and I doubt that he was paid by the day, because he mentions a "salary" (151). I doubt that Smart ever collected a nickel from him. >Smart knows that Olivia loved Weer. Smart knows that Weer is the last of >the Weers. Smart knows that he couldn't have made the factory without >Olivia's help. However unfriendly Smart has been toward Weer over the last >25 years of Smart's life (make that 35 years!), it seems to me that leaving >the factory to Weer is in his best interests as an owner, and in his best >interests as a tribute to his wife and her family (i.e., the family network >that was able to further his career). I'm not so sure Olivia loved Weer. The first page of the second section doesn't read that way to me. She was stuck with him and tried to make the best of it. And I have a much darker view of Smart. He was a mercenary, cold-blooded s.o.b. who used people for his own ends. I don't think he had a philanthropic bone in his body. When he sold Olivia's house it didn't become the Olivia Weer-Smart Memorial Library. And if he thought well at all of his nephew, he would have advanced his career during all those years, grooming him as his successor. -Roy --