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Chapter 13

A study of a book by GK Chesterton.

Chapter 13

Postby The Bigsleep J » 04 Sep 2006, 19:36

This is long overdue. Stupid me. I should have done this weeks ago. Here goes...

In this chapter the five detectives, wearied and angry, go to visit anarchist council president Sunday to find out what the meaning of all this is; of why they were chasing each other while they were on the same team. Soon, thanks to the earnest efforts of Dr Bull, meet up with the young man they knew as Gogol and together they confront Sunday.

Sunday refuses to answer their questions and even does not take these questions seriously, and light-heartedly gives answers that make no sense within the context of the situation. Finally he jumps up and says that "since the beginning of the world all men have hunted me like a wolf—kings and sages, and poets and lawgivers, all the churches, and all the philosophies. But I have never been caught yet, and the skies will fall in the time I turn to bay. I have given them a good run for their money, and I will now." After this he admits that he was the policeman in the dark room who made them anarchists. With this he leaps over the balcony and hails a cab. They chase him across London, first in cabs and eventually on an elephant. While this chase ensues Sunday keeps throwing little balls of paper with nonsese scribbled on it towards his pursuers. Eventually Sunday escapes with a balloon, from where he drifts away into the countryside. The consfused policemen continue to chase him.

This is one of the most important chapters in the book because now finally the 'metaphysical' mystery that was hinted at behind the scenes of the first twelve chapters. However by the end of the chapter they still have no new answers since the revelation only raises more questions than it answered. I'm going to hold off discussing the possible significance of Sunday being both an Anarchist and a policeman until the last chapter is discussed, since each chapter from now on has philosophical and metaphorical significance. However...

Sunday indirectly acknowledges to presence that there was a plot and yet when confronted avoids the question, which is not just him still attempting to pretend. Throughout the whole chapter he seldoms answers the questions they pose directly, giving long-winded, sinister or absurd replies. Even in the last chapter the policemen pose questions and statements against him that he does not answer. Martin Gardner in his article on Thursday theorized that this was a reference (the word he used though was 'parody') of the answers God gave Job when He finally appeared at the end of the book. God's answers suggested that He knew what He was doing and that Job did not understand. In the next chapters a similar vein of thought, though wholely more complex, will emerge from the story.

Also some images appear in this chapter that is significant, like the hornbill and pelicans mentioned in the zoo sequence of the chapter.
He remembered especially seeing pelicans, with their preposterous, pendant throats. He wondered why the pelican was the symbol of charity, except it was that it wanted a good deal of charity to admire a pelican. He remembered a hornbill, which was simply a huge yellow beak with a small bird tied on behind it. The whole gave him a sensation, the vividness of which he could not explain, that Nature was always making quite mysterious jokes. Sunday had told them that they would understand him when they had understood the stars. He wondered whether even the archangels understood the hornbill.

The ideas that nothing in nature being "neat" (or precise as Lewis says in Mere Christianity) and that things sort of looked like 'good jokes' being played by nature suggests a Joker in Chesterton's eyes. All these small things suggested for Chesterton the existence of God. The hornbill is referenced again later in chapter 15, but in a different way. But more on that later.

I'll get to the last two chapters when I'm back from England.
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re: Chapter 13

Postby Sven » 04 Sep 2006, 20:40

Regarding the 'balls of paper with nonsense scribbled on'. The first one refers to a 'Martin Tupper'. Martin Farquhar Tupper was a writer very popular in Victorian England and America for sickly sweet poems, fiction, and plays. Despite that popularity, by Chesterton's time his works were almost completely forgotten.

Martin Farquhar Tupper wrote:When thou choosest a wife, think not only of thyself,
But of those God may give thee of her, that they reproach thee not for their being:
See that he hath given her health, lest thou lose her early and weep:
See that she springeth of a wholesome stock, that thy little ones perish not before thee:
For many a fair skin hath covered a mining disease,
And many a laughing cheek been bright with the gare of madness.

At the end of the chapter, the note signed as being from 'Little Snowdrop' probably refers to Alice's white kitten in Through the Looking Glass.
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 13

Postby The Bigsleep J » 05 Sep 2006, 11:19

I have to admit, I never thought Martin Tupper was a real person. I certainly have never heard of him nor did I think of looking him up. :) I also missed the Snowdrop reference. Thanks for pointing that out, Sven! :)
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Sunday Papers

Postby Kanakaberaka » 11 Sep 2006, 13:29

Each of those dashed off notes that Sunday tosses to the persuing detectives appears to have a unique meaning for each of them.

Dr. Bull is asked, "What about Martin Tupper now?". Sven is no doubt right in his reference to Martin Farquhar Tupper, who had a father who was a doctor by the same name. Could Sunday be hinting that Dr. Bull could be forgotten as Tupper was?

Gabriel Syme's does in fact appear to be plain nonsense. "No one would regret anything in the nature of an interference by the Archdeacon more than I. I trust it will not come to that. But for the last time, where are your goloshes? The thing is so bad, especialy after what uncle said." Could these non-sequiturs be a challenge to Syme's poetry? An Archdeacon ranks just below a Bishop in the Anglican Church, but I can not find any significance to the reference.

Ratcliffe is warned, "Fly at once. The truth about your trouser-strechers is known. - A FRIEND". Trouser stretchers are wire forms used when ironing the crease into men's pants years ago. Could this be "constructive critisism" of Inspector Ratcliffe's fashionable way of dress?

Gogol's message, which Sunday threw to him from atop the elephant said, "The word, I fancy, should be 'pink'." Could Sunday have meant that the elephant should have been pink, as a drunk might hallucinate?

Sunday's Secretary was tossed a poem :
"When the herring runs a mile,
Let the Secretary smile;
When the herring tries to fly,
Let the Secretary die."
And it's signed : "Rustic Proverb"
Could Sunday be teasing the Secretary about his cut and dry manner by hitting him with this doggrel verse?

Finally, Prof. de Worms note was inscribed with a lover's knot, a figure which Dutch sailors made to remind them of those they left at home. The message says, "Your beauty has not left me indifferent. - - From LITTLE SNOWDROP". Sven has pointed out that Alice's cat had that name. But there were also two fairy tales by that same name as well. One of them appears to be another version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. And another involves a snow fairy who melts at the arrival of spring, with the hope of returning with winter. The latter story seems to involves death and resurrection so it could be what Chesterton was refering to. Ironic that somone wearing such ungly makeup should be praised for beauty, but of course Sunday is no doubt being sarcastic.

The chase scene in this chapter beats anything I have seen in the movies. Sunday going from hansom cab to fire engine to elephant and finally up and away in a hot air balloon is totally unique. With today's special effects it would make an amazing film.
Last edited by Kanakaberaka on 03 Oct 2006, 05:26, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Sunday Papers

Postby lee_merrill » 13 Sep 2006, 03:43

This is all interesting! I would say also that perhaps the point of the notes was that they were symbolic of the puzzlement they had all been through, and were still going through, and trying to crack their heads against the universe (see Orthdoxy), and that instead the meaning was that joy was of the essence, and that what was seemingly so formidable was actually dwindled from a giant shadow to a (very large and bulky) child who played, well, pranks.

The Big Sleep J wrote:The ideas that nothing in nature being "neat" (or precise as Lewis says in Mere Christianity) and that things sort of looked like 'good jokes' being played by nature...

Yes, like that...

"As Macdonald said, 'No one loves because he sees reason, but because he loves.'" (C.S. Lewis)
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