Monday, August 1, 2016
The sad life of The Late George Apley
The sad chronicle of the life of The Late George Apley continues as GA begins "studying" at Harvard Law School (he was at best around the middle of his class at Harvard College; wonder how people got into the law school, let alone the college, in those days?) and it's clear he has little aptitude for or interest in the law, or in business. His time in law school is mostly made up of joining various social clubs and dinner clubs, and the stern letters from his father praise him for making the right social connections and warn him against wild behavior. He needs a little wild behavior! In one very touching moment, GA's pals at law school play a prank and have one of social misfits sit on a strip of flypaper; GA simply says: That's not funny, gentlemen. He's truly a good guy, whose life is controlled by his miserable and narrow-minded parents - and the novel is exceptionally powerful because the narrator, Willing, is completely oblivious to the social forces that push and pull GA through life. He marries in their set a young woman whom it's pretty clear he doesn't love, and then he's in for a lifetime of control by her obtrusive parents. And they get him a job in a law firm where he can do no harm because he does so little - watching over a few boring trust funds and, I would guess, putting the right name and the right social veneer on the doings of the firm.