YFTS: Cleaning House

Time permitting, I’m going to do a summary post of vol 2 the way I did one for vol 1, but for now I’d like to add a few more thoughts that I didn’t get into the earlier post about our final slice of vol 2.

On page 288, I found it very noteworthy that Deza draws a comparison to Wheeler when Tupra gives him his comb back:

He handed it back to me. Unlike Wheeler, he hadn’t taken the precaution of holding it up to the light to see if it was clean when I gave it to him . . .

This brief image doesn’t simply send us back to Wheeler but also back to that whole wild scene to end vol 1 with the helicopter brushing Wheeler and Deza (which is why Wheeler needs to borrow Deza’s comb). But first of all, let’s deal with Wheeler vis a vis Tupra.

Clearly Wheeler acts as a sort of father-figure for Deza when he’s on the British island; he is sort of the presiding patriarch of vol 1, and after reading vol 2 I feel as though Tupra acts in a similar capacity for that book. (And later, on page 308, Tupra is directly compared to Deza’s father.) Clearly, Wheeler and Tupra represent different facets of the image of a patriarch, perhaps in line with the theme of each book; perhaps they are in a way fathering the face that Deza will display to the world “tomorrow,” once this adventure in England has come to a close for him.

But to get back to the final scene of vol 1: I find it interesting that each book ends with a bravado scene of disarray and violence, and that Marias is at pains to link them there with that reference on page 288. Seen from this perspective, the two volumes overlay rather well, with Wheeler/Tupra acting in similar capacity in each, each volume concluding with a bizarre scene that touches Deza deeply, and then there being a final period of reflection that gives on to the following volume.

I also think that now is an appropriate time to talk about the covers, which, frankly, at first mystified me but now I believe I have come up with a theory about. First, let’s recall that these are in fact the covers that Marias chose to grace these three books. (Unlike the vast majority of authors, he was given the honor of being allowed to choose his books’ covers, and thus we can consider them part of the overall composition.) So let’s have a look at them together:

What I notice on the first is that long open road: we are just starting out on a long journey, and we are looking down the front of a motorcycle, a vehicle that typically conveys isolation, even something of a rebel image. There is still all that road ahead of us to travel, and we are perhaps adrift in a foreign land. It brings to mid Deza, alone and in Britain and unsure of where he is headed.

Then in the second image we see a train powering toward us under a full head of steam. We can hardly see the track at all here; the frame is instead taken up by that big, chugging train, which impresses us with its force and dedication to steam forward right past us. If we are on this train we are not thinking of where we are headed; no, we are simply being taken along for the ride, and we concern ourselves with our own personal matters, or perhaps admiring the countryside that we are passing through. It is an image that implies that Deza is no longer so concerned with the path he has chosen but rather with the people and things he finds as he is being drawn down that path.

And lastly, we see an image of an airplane that I believe had just landed. It is almost the opposite of that first image: instead of the front of the plane we see its back side, and the vehicle itself obscures any sight of the road (in this case a body of water) that may or may not lie before it. We have set down and our journey is ended, and we will disembark separate from the rest of the people we have traveled with (perhaps across the English channel and back again on the Continent).

Taken together, the images constitute to me three different phases of a long journey, beginning, middle, and end. They are perhaps emblematic of Deza’s journey, representing the mood and spirit of each phase of the journey that he undertakes in the books whose cover they grace.

And lastly, here’s a very YFT-esque news tidbit indicating how far this country has gone to embrace fascistic beliefs in our lust for security. Wheeler would be appalled.

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