Listening to Variations on A Korean Folk Song (I’m playing this piece in concert band at the final concert on May 25th!)
This section was pretty interesting. We finally learned some of Paul’s backstory which revealed more about why his personality is a bit messed up.
He has a violent way of thinking of things. He believes “a world without disasters and violence – be it the violence of nature or that of muscle and blood – would be [a] truly unbearable thing” (ch. 30). Paul literally says that he cannot live without some sort of violence in his life. Furthermore, when he lost his temper he reacted violently. In his flashback, Serge and Babette were in Paul’s house to check on him the day before Claire’s operation at the hospital. He was very annoyed with them, and when the macaroni he was cooking was burnt, he “grabbed the glowing handles of the pan” while “the skin on [his] fingers began to burn” and “hit [Serge] square in the face” with the pan. He hit him again for a second time and “Serge was sprawled on the kitchen floor, the area around his mouth and nose a mushy, bloody mess” (ch. 35). He was enraged and as a result he seriously injured Serge who was annoying him. Michel ended up witnessing his aggravated father. This was similar to when he threatened the bicycle ship owner with a pump only this time he actually injured someone. We also learned that the school psychologist diagnosed him with some sort of neurological disorder which Michel likely inherited. These could explain why Michel ended up murdering the homeless woman.
Even though I found Paul to be disturbing with his gruesome descriptions, there were some minor things that I related with. For example, he read the following side effects on an information leaflet about his medication: “‘Nausea’, ‘dry skin’ and
a ‘decreased appetite’” as well as “‘feelings of fear’, ‘hyperventilation’ and ‘memory loss’” (ch. 32). I imagined he felt quite concerned about taking his medication because it reminded me of my faint worry after reading disconcerting side effects on medicine I needed to take. His likely worry was emphasized by the fact that Paul “always thought things through to the end, to their most extreme consequence” which is something I do as well sometimes (ch. 32). For instance, if I was annoyed by what my dad said to me I would be thinking of having an argument in my head and think of many pointless things, so Paul must think of those pointless things as well. To be honest, I felt kind of bad for him in this section because little Michel did not seem to love him as much as his mother.
We learned a lot about Paul in this chapter so my question for you is what do you think of Paul now after having learned more of his backstory? Hopefully the dinner resumes in the next chapter because I am getting tired of waiting. The dinner did not advance much at all in this section so I want to know what will happen. I look forward to reading your comments below.