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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

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Monday, May 18, 2015

The servants in Loving: A glorified form or slavery?

Nearing the end of Loving, by Henry Green, which isn't that long but somehow feels long because of the intense effort required to keep the characters and events straight and even to figure out, scene by scene, who's talking and to whom. In section I read yesterday the "ladies" of the Castle, Mrs. Tennant and her daughter, Mrs. Jack, return - somewhat to the surprise of the servants who have stayed on and tried to run things, and there's more of a ruckus about the disappearance and recovery of Mrs. T's valuable ring. The head butler, Raunce or Charley or Arthur, depending on who's talking about him!, puts it out that the insurance adjuster who came to investigate the claim of a lost ring was actually with the IRA (this talking place in Ireland during WWII, English inhabitants of the catle being very suspect at best). ON the "loving" side of the plot, Raunce and his 20-year- junior, the maidservant Edith, are now engaged - which puts the other maidservant into a bit of a tailspin - there were hints earlier on of some lesbian foreplay between the two of them - but then she (Kate?) says she's engaged to one of the few Irishmen working on the estate - his name is Paddy or at least that's what everyone calls him, and Green has a funny convention that Paddy when addressed never replies but Kate (?) "translates" what he says - the Irish are that removed from, or scorned by, the British. Overall, I think  Green's sympathies are with the servants, thank God, and we see in these late scenes the limited scope of their lives: they pretty much have to fall in love w/ another one of the servants in their same household, as they're unlikely to have much contact with anyone, especially of their class, outside of the manor - all told a very sorrowful life, something their "masters" might think of as quite natural and as their due, but that we can and should see as a glorified and somewhat sanctified form of slavery.

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