It’s that time again, folks! Yes, that’s right – it’s December, time for all good Nano-ers to edit frantically and second-guess their own insight.
Which ties in nicely with this installment of TPD Deconstruction: the thing that jumped out at me most in this section was the poor job of editing on the text. The passage is riddled with cliches:
“It was a dark, rainy night”
(pp 57) and repetition:
“the rooms still looked very dark, the shadows deep. Sometimes he couldn’t tell if it was himself moving or the shadows in the room; a strange, undulating motion in the light and shadows made the depths in the house shift back and forth.”
The sentence structure also varies little: He moved, he thought, he went, he took. The more I read through the passage, the more I crave some variety – not only are two totally different men behaving in exactly the same way in exactly the same situation, each paragraph is structurally the same as the last, adding very little new information. The difference between the two situations is the one man reflexively calls out the name of Jesus and the other grabs a baseball bat. Thus, one of them succeeds and one fails.
Putting that aside, we get into the logical errors, the ones that are more fun to discuss. Demons have invaded the homes of Marshall and Hank, our two heroes; Tal and Guilo, though it causes them considerable anguish, can only watch, because “[Marshall] must go through it.” The man’s home is being invaded by “at least forty demons”; his wife and child are in danger. Angels have the power to protect him. But they do not, because this is a crucial learning experience. Which is all well and good except that he has no idea what’s going on or how to stop it. He doesn’t know the magic words — how can he defend himself?
Hank, of course, knows the magic words. As he gets choked by a demon, slowly dying, he forgets what he ought to do. So God tells him:
“His next thought, a tiny, instant flash, must have come from the Lord”
So it’s apparently okay to help Hank through this ordeal, but not Marshall. I suspect this nonsense about it being a trial he has to go through is just a cover for the real motive: Zod couldn’t care less what happens to the nonbelievers, and lets demons have free reign on them.
Hank knows exactly what happened — he saw the thing during the fight, and it physically knocked him about. Marshall, on the other hand, manages to convince himself that it was just his imagination, only to discover that his daughter has gone missing. In fact, she’s run away, taking her schoolbooks and clothes with her. Marshall’s reaction is deep and profound, expressing the depths of fear and pain a parent must go through upon finding that their child has gone missing in the middle of the night:
[Marshall] rested his head against the doorjamb with a quiet thud.
“Nuts.” he said.
Kate, thankfully, is freaked out; she’s described as on the brink of tears and yet somehow angry at the same time thanks to the demonic invasion, and is even more alarmed to discover her daughter missing. She blames herself for not noticing what was wrong, then snipes at Marshall for fighting with her — all very human reactions that only serve here to emphasize how little Marshall cares for his daughter. He doesn’t even know how she got home after he failed to pick her up from school!
Kate comes up with the idea to call her friend and find out if she’s safe at their house; Marshall vetoes the idea.
“Either she’s there or she isn’t. If she isn’t, we’ll be getting them out of bed for nothing, and if she is, well, she’s okay anyway.”
The idea that she might be roaming the streets, easy prey for any murder or rapist, never seems to cross his mind. However, despite his apparent calmness, we are informed that he’s “really scared” and he “[doesn’t] know why”. Being afraid for his daughter’s safety isn’t even remotely possible; the thought never occurs to him. He simply has no idea why he’s afraid. Must be demons.
Hank, by the way, managed to rebuke over a hundred demons with one quickly-whispered prayer. Hooray for Gary Stu the Demon-rebuker. Pardon the yawns. Ever humble, he assumes he’s “flunked” “Lesson Number One in Frontlines Combat” until his wife assures him that he probably passed since the demons are, you know, gone.
“So, what now?” Mary finally asked.
“Uh… let’s pray,” said Hank. For him, that option was always easy to jump to.”
I find a little amusing irony in that: prayer is the easy way out when you have no idea what to do. So many Christians automatically spout off “I’ll pray for you” whenever they hear of troubles, and seem to assume that gets them out of offering any useful, material suggestions; rather than, say, case the perimeter looking for stragglers, or combing the Bible for mention of demons, or thumbing through the Yellow Pages looking for exorcists or advanced security installation, Hank leaps to prayer, thanking the Lord for “protecting them from danger”. Hank did all the work himself while the angels are forbidden from interfering – but obviously the praise goes to God.
Kate manages to call Sandy’s friend only to find out she’s not there. That seems to be the end of that matter. Rather than go out looking or call the police, Kate and Marshall enjoy toast and milk and muse about their failures as parents.
Marshall was ready. “We probably need to talk about a lot of things.”
Could he actually be ready to admit he’s been a shitty parent and look for ways to change?
“You think it’s my fault?”
Go on, Kate. Tell him the truth: he’s abusive, cold, and distant. You can do it!
…what does that even mean? Of course it’s not all his fault all the time; no person is ever 100% wrong in every way. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have room to change.
“I botched it today.”
“I think we’ve all botched it, and that includes Sandy. She’s made some choices too, remember?”
Kate the Enabler, ladies and gentlemen.
They come to the conclusion that Sandy’s gone wrong in life because Pastor Young is too soft. What? Seriously, what? Your daughter ran away from home and the first thought is “Let’s critique our pastor”?
“Kate, don’t you ever get the feeling that God’s got to be, you know, a little… bigger? Tougher? The God we get at church, I feel like He isn’t even a real person, and if He is, He’s dumber than we are.”
Going to fundamentalist churches that twist the Bible around to support their own political standpoints tends to give that impression, yes.
Just then, 1AM or not, the phone rang.
IS it 1am? Or not? The world may never know.
Next time, tune in for an update from everyone’s favorite reporter-turned-prostitute, Bernie.