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Chapter Twelve

A study of a book by GK Chesterton.

Chapter Twelve

Postby The Bigsleep J » 17 Jul 2006, 14:04

The group of pretend-anarchists make their way towards the town of Nancy where they visit a friend of the Colonel, who is sticking with them through thick and thin, it seems. They arrive at his house and inform him of their predicament. He remains very skeptical but decides to help the Colonel and his friends by giving them a car. The cars however are somewhat in need of prepare. Meanwhile they had realized that the anarchists have aquired horses and are chasing them. They believe that they got the horses from the Inn they stopped at the previous chapter and they speculate that the inn-keeper may have been forced against his will to give the anarchists the horses. Just as they got the car started the Secretary, mounted on a horse, attempted to stop them. The manage to escape him by incredible good luck of the car starting.

It was dark now, even more dark than usual because a storm was approaching. The car seems to have no lights, but they were given one by doctor Renard, the friend who had lend them the car. The lamp seems to be something of an ecclesiastical lamp from an old church. Meanwhile, with their fast car they are aiming for the policestation where they believe they will be safe. Suddenly two more motorcars, the others owned by Doctor Renard, speed past. Ratcliffe remarks that like the inn-keeper Dr Renard was forced to give the cars. They find their road blocked by townsfolk, who were up in arms. At first they assume that the people were either with them or just gathered for a town gathering mostly because of the presence of Dr Renard. However when he began firing at them they retreat. The colonel leave them to talk to his old friend while they get away. Then they see that the Innkeeper, who was established as a Christian in the previous chapter, among the people chasing them; the shock is so great that Syme exclaims “The evening star has fallen!”

They crash their automobile into a lamp post and make their way towards a pier which they decide to defend while the Gendermerie come to help them. Meanwhile the whole town was heading towards them to fight them. In a world gone mad the pessimistic former Marquis says that the only hope he has is placed in the unseen Inspector. The rest venture that he may be dead, but the Inspector say that “he must have been the only person Sunday must have found hard to kill”. Then comes the last great shock; the Colonel and the Secretary is leading the mob towards them! Outraged Syme takes the lantern given by the very same Colonel, knocks him down with it, then addresses the Secretary, exclaiming that they fight to the end, but only after throwing the lantern into the sea. Then the Secretary reveals that he is in fact also a policeman of the same (or should I say Syme) department, making the exasperated Dr Bull throw his sword into the sea. Now they have to face the cruel President Sunday himself...


This has got to be one of the most difficult chapters in the book (last two chapters however takes the cake!) mostly because it has several allusions to several ideas and themes and threads running through the story.

Of all of the chapters in the book, this is by far the most nightmarish, because it seems everything is turned upside. Old allies turn against them as if they had been infected by madness, giving their pursuers the means in which to catch up with them. Then the people of France turns against them, even though they have no real reason to turn to anarchy. Then finally the police begin firing at them; the police are off course the symbols of Order, and now they are serving anarchy. The world turned upside down, even if it was all a misunderstanding. However when it was cleared up that they were all on the same side, it only made things more obscure.

Also now all the twists concerning the normal members of Central Anarchist Council are spent; I’ve spent a lot of time thinking of these twists, which are rather predictable. Anyone could have guessed it given the history of the other anarchists, but there is one thing that changes it dramatically from normal twists in normal plots, namely that it does not clear up the plot in anyway; the twists only open up a larger, deeper level of absurd mystery. All that remains for them is to see Sunday himself, who will only raise more questions than answers.

The whole setting of this chapter especially has an unreal feel to it; at one part, as the sun is casting a golden glow on the village, it is mentioned that it resembles a stage-light more than a real glow. Also some of the policemen question wether or not anything is real; Dr Bull specifically believes he is locked up in an Asylum in Hanwell (a suburb of London), though the rest don’t share his skepticism. Bull also says that he refuses to believe normal people like “navvies” (a labourer helping in excavations) and “counter-jumpers” (an often derogatory slang phrase for store clerks).

Syme also says “When duty and religion are really destroyed, it will be by the rich”, which almost sounds Anarchistic in itself, though it is something of a sentiment Chesterton himself holds; a dislike for the wealthy, which is very much evident at times throughout Thursday.

Also, finally, there is Inspector Ratcliffe who, despite his absolutely hopeless pessimism, finally says that he places his hope in something he has never seen; he places his hope in the Great Inspector, who has drafted them into the Last Crusade; whose voice they have heard in the dark though never heard. This is a very apt metaphor for God, actually, but considering that God is also Sunday, makes this view almost self-contradictory. However some believe that Sunday the Anarchist represents the universe and paganism, but I’m getting ahead of myself; I’ll deal with in my next chapter.

Quick Note: Syme says that they are going to defend the pier like Horatius and his bridge. According to Wikipedia, Syme was probably referring to Horatius Cocles, a Roman Hero who defended a bridge into the city against invading forces; while he defended the bridge the people he were defending it for destroyed the bridge to curb the invasion. Accordng to many accounts Horatius drowned in the Tiber while swimming back from the battle.

Some Questions:

When it is revealed that the Inn-keeper has turned against him, Syme cries that “The morning star has fallen”. What exactly does he mean with this?

Inspector Ratcliffe remarks that they are the last of mankind and that the human being will soon be extinct. Is he referring to the advent of the Nietzchean idea of the Übermensch, (a theory that Chesterton thoroughly disapproved off) or maybe to something else? It just seem strange to say that these people are no longer human in the normal sense of the word.
Insert supposedly witty but random absurd comment here and add water
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The Bigsleep J
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Re: Chapter Twelve

Postby Sven » 17 Jul 2006, 14:53

The Bigsleep J wrote:When it is revealed that the Inn-keeper has turned against him, Syme cries that “The morning star has fallen”. What exactly does he mean with this?


How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

Isaiah 14:12-15

Lucifer is Latin for 'light-bringer' (lux=light and ferre=to bring. In Roman astrology, Lucifer was Venus, the morning star. In the original Hebrew of Isaiah, the word was heylel, 'brightest star', again the name for the planet Venus.
Rat! he found breath to whisper, shaking. Are you afraid?
Afraid? murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love.
Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet -- and yet -- O, Mole, I am afraid!
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
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re: Chapter Twelve

Postby The Bigsleep J » 19 Jul 2006, 07:13

Ah, thanks Sven! :) I knew it was something like that.

If "the morning star has fallen" then it means definitely that a good person has gone bad, as is the case in the story.

Thanks!
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Who was that masked man?

Postby Kanakaberaka » 21 Jul 2006, 10:24

(Start up the William Tell Overture)

The exciting thing about this chapter is how everything is turned on it's head. It seems as if everyone in the story has given in to anarchy, other than the four detectives. Chesterton compares their situation to Horatius at the bridge (Which C.S. Lewis also mentioned in Perelandra). But in my opinion they are more like Davy Crockett at the Alamo fighting to the last. In fact Inspector Ratcliff even says, "We are the last of mankind" and the Professor quotes the final lines from Alexander Pope's Dunciad about the "great Anarch" bringing down the curtain on all. The Dunciand is a satire about the goddess of Dulness at war with reason.

But then, just as the four remaining police officers appear to be doomed, Sunday's secretary announces that they are under arrest by the law. The Secretary reveals himself to be a policeman with his own blue card! And all those common townsfolk who Syme had thought turned evil were in fact under the impression that he and his companions were members of the anarchist high council. Which they now all realize does not exist. But what I want to know is how the secretary wearing his half mask managed to convince all those honest folks that he was the law and the running foursome were anarchists? The only "good guys" who wear masks today are SWAT teams and the British SAS. And I can't imagine Frenchmen mistaking the secretary for our "Lone Ranger". So how was he able to convince the crowds that he was in the right and the others were outlaws? Still I must admit, it was a bang-up turn of events to conclude this chapter.

One other note about the antique lantern with the cross decoration. Considering that Dr. Renard's mansion is compared to the Musee de Cluny (aka Musee National du Moyen Age) it should be expected that such accoutrements would be at hand. This museum was once the townhouse of the abbots of Cluny and is presently filled with all sorts of Medieval artifacts, including a famous Lady and Unicorn tapestry.
so it goes...
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The Earth In Anarchy

Postby Kanakaberaka » 01 Oct 2006, 16:00

I meant to post this about a week after my original posting on chapter 12, but I was unable to find the Chesterton passage I wanted to back my idea up with. So you will just have to take my word that it exists. Anyway...

When it appeared that the whole world had in fact sunk into anarchy, I thought that Chesterton was illlustrating an idea from one of his essays. In it he wrote that one's own home is in fact ruled by anarchy. This seems odd, but he went on to point out that a man is free to have his dinner on the living room carpet, if it pleases him and several other eccentric yet harmless activities. To me this appears more like a monarchy, since I'm sure the head of the household would not approve of his children making too much of a mess. But the premise here is that there are in fact no formal laws in place within one's own private property. Before the Secretay revealed himself to be a police officer, I thought that what was going on in this chapter was in fact an illustration that anarchy is man's natural condition. Instead Chesterton shows us the common folks revulsion to those they belive to be anarchists, at least the political type rather than our own domestic variety.
so it goes...
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