Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Summary of Part Two Chapter Two

Tietjens and Sylvia are both at Lady Sachse’s feast. While Tietjens has gone to the telephone with a lance-corporal, Cowley tells Sylvia how Tietjens spent three hours “examining twenty-nine thousand toe nails…” (Ford, 398). Cowley tells Sylvia that Tietjens is a very “admirable officer” (Ford, 398), who writes letter for those who can’t write. Sylvia, attempting to find out whether or not Tietjens is having an affair with Miss Wannop, says “Of course my husband would not have time to write very full letters….He is not like the giddy young subalterns who run after skirts” (Ford, 399). Cowley laughs and says that Tietjens never chased any skirts. As Tietjens join Cowley and Sylvia’s conversation, she realizes that she is intensely and sexually attracted to Tietjens. She tells herself “It’s pure sexual passion…It’s pure sexual passion…God! Can’t I get over this?” (Ford, 400). “I can’t help it…Oh, I can’t help it….” (Ford, 401). “By God, if that beast does not give in to me tonight he never shall see Michael again” (Ford, 401). She wants to sleep with Tietjens, but she needs to know if Tietjens is in love with Valentine. She can barely wait to throw herself into Tietjens’ embrace. “Holy Mary, mother of God!...If you give me a sign I could wait” (Ford, 404). She searches for a presentable man in the room to be the sign. Tietjens and Cowley are going to the telephone, and Sylvia decides to wait for them in the smoking-room. Father Consett’s ghost appears in the smoking-room. Sylvia thinks back to how, earlier, the general asks Tietjens to go talk to the duchess about coal, as the purpose for the duchess to hold this ceremony is to discuss the price of coal. The general reveals that the duchess thinks the price of coal is too high, and that the English have put up such a high price to keep her hothouse stoves out. Tietjens suggests to the duchess that, since his family owns the largest stretch of coal-burning land in England, and the duchess owns the largest stretch of hothouses in France, they should become business partners. The general compliments Tietjens in front of Sylvia by saying “He’s got a positive genius for getting all sorts of things out of the most beastly muddles” (Ford, 409). Then, Sylvia asks the general: “Hasn’t it ever occurred to you that Christopher was a Socialist?” The general, astonished, claims that he will drum Tietjens out of service. When the general asks for evidence, Sylvia tells the general that Teitjens “is heir to one of the biggest fortune in England, for a commoner, and he refuses to touch a penny” (Ford, 411). Later, Sylvia tries to further her devilment by telling the general that Christopher desires to model himself upon Jesus Christ, which implies that Teitjens is going crazy. Sylvia promises that she’ll stop torturing Christopher and go into retreat in a convent of Ursuline Dames Nobles for the rest of her life. Then, she sees a presentable man, and recognizes that “he was to be a sign, not a prey!” (Ford, 414). Sylvia gives Tietjens a pack of letter, which she had kept away, and asks Cowley to let Tietjens read the letters for a few minutes. As Tietjens reads the letters, Sylvia thinks back on how the rumours she spread about Christopher having an affair with Valentine “smashed” (Ford, 422) Christopher’s father, instead of Christopher. Suddenly, “a gun manned by exhilarated anti-aircraft fellows, and so close that it must have been in the hotel garden, shook her physically at almost the same moment as an immense maroon popped off on the quay at the bottom of the street in which the hotel was” (Ford, 424). The general quickly cleared the room. Christopher finished reading the letters and tells Sylvia that “as far as he was concerned Groby was entirely at her disposal with all that it contained. And of course a sufficient income for the upkeep” (Ford, 430). It seems to Sylvia that Christopher is intended to get himself killed in the war. “She warned him that, if he got killed, she should cut down the great cedar at the south-west corner of Groby” (Ford, 430). In reply, Tietjens tells Sylvia that he cannot control his own death, and explains to her that he is in no great danger. To Sylvia, the war is nothing more than an “ignoble horseplay” (Ford, 431) not worth sacrificing for. She asks Christopher: “what could you not have risen to with your gifts, and your influence…and your integrity?” (Ford, 432). Later, Cowley begins to talk about how he and his wife dealt with their son’s measles. This reminds Sylvia of how Tietjens took the responsibility to take care of Michael, who suffered from measles as well. She knows “Christopher had been down to hell to bring the child back” (Ford, 437). At the end of the chapter, Sylvia and Tietjens danced in the lounge, and agreed to go to Sylvia’s room to talk.

Tietjens’ Toryism/Compassion:

Tietjens showing care for soldiers that are less fortunate by writing letters for them: “If the captain is a little remiss in writing letters…I have heard….You might say, in that respect, that thank God we have got a navy, ma’am…” (Ford, 398).
Cowley says that “if we had a laugh against him it was that he mothered the lot of us as if he was a hen sitting on addled eggs” (Ford, 399).
“But there, your born gentleman mixes with men all his days and knows them. Down to the ground and inside their puttees…” (Ford, 401).
Tietjens is unwilling to leave Cowley in the cold camp, because he cares about him and is unwilling to see him suffer. To show his gratitude for Tietjens, he tells Syvia “I might have been sitting, now, at this very moment, up in the cold camp….But for you and the captain….Up in the cold camp…” (Ford, 402). In return, Tietjens receives Cowley’s devotedness.
Sylvia tells Cowley how Tietjens helps everyone just like Jesus. “He was always helping people…He helped virtuous Scotch students, and broke-down gentry….And women take in adultery….All of them….Like….You know Who….That is his mode….” (Ford 404).
When Tietjens is talking to the duchess in French, “Of course Christopher would cultivate an English accent to show that he was an English country gentleman. And he would speak correctly – to show that an English Tory can do anything in the world if he wants to…” (Ford, 408).
An orderly asked Tietjens to sign his slip, so he can go and get married. Tietjens, after a short hesitation, signs the slip. He asks the boy: “Got anything saved up?” The boy said: “A fiver and a few bob” (Ford, 429). Tietjens gives the boy money, and adds: “Don’t’ let it get all over camp. I can’t afford to subsides all the seven months children in the battalion” (Ford, 429).
Sylvia’s Sadistic Nature:
Sylvia demands that she should be the center of Tietjens’ attention. She is queen, and it is against decency to neglect her total power to control and torture men. “If you have an incomparably beautiful woman on your hands you must occupy yourself solely with her….Nature exacts that of you…until you are unfaithful to her with a snub-nosed girl with freckles; that, of course, being a reaction, is still in a way occupying yourself with your woman!...But to betray her with a battalion…That is against decency, against Nature…” (Ford, 399).
Sylvia thinks back to the time when she finds a dead bulldog at her door. She “got the rhinoceros whip and lashed into it. There’s a pleasure in lashing into a naked white beast…Obese and silent, like Christopher….I thought Christopher might…That night…It hung down its head” (Ford, 417). Sylvia whips the dog as if it is Christopher. She wants the bulldog, or Christopher, to put down his head, and submit to her victory as a sadistic conqueror.
Freudian universal sexual drive:
When Sylvia was sitting in the smoking-lounge: “It was undeniably like something moving….All these things going in one direction….A disagreeable force set in motion by gawky school boys – but schoolboys of the Sixth Form, sinister, hobbledehoy, waiting in the corners of playgrounds to torture someone, weak and unfortunate” (Ford, 414). All things are going in one direction driven by sexual desire to torture someone weak and unfortunate.
Sylvia, in despise of men’s school boy prank says: “These horrors, these infinities of pain, this atrocious condition of the world had been brought about in order that men should indulge themselves in orgies of promiscuity. That in the end was at the bottom of male honor, of male virtue, observance of treaties, upholding of the flag….An immense warlock’s carnival of appetites, lusts, ebrieties…And once set in motion there was no stopping it. This state of things would never cease….Because once they had tasted of the joy – the blood – of this game, who would let it end?” (Ford, 438).

No comments: