Listening to Gustav Holst’s The Planets – Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity. It’s been stuck in my head recently but I really don’t mind.
When I read the last page I was confused. WHERE’S THE REST OF IT?! It was quite anticlimactic but it did end with Michel loving his father again which was Paul’s desire throughout the book. Paul, Claire, and Michel were one crazy family but the parents still loved Michel to the extent that they were willing to do extreme things.
For example, Claire suggested Paul “to break [his] brother’s arm. Or damage his face. And all that out of love, love for [Michel]” (ch. 43). She wanted to protect Michel’s future so badly that she was willing to attack Serge. I never really expected her to be this extreme before so I was kind of shocked to hear her say this. Even Paul said she was the kind of mother who would “[shoot] and [kill] her child’s murderer in the courtroom” (ch. 43). Even though Paul ended up not damaging Serge’s face nor breaking his arm, it was implied that Claire did it somehow which also surprised me. Her intent to protecting Michel by preventing Serge from withdrawing from the election in a speech was successful because the scars of the injury was what caused Serge to lose the election, according to Paul. He said that “[t]he voters saw the scarred face. But they also saw the empty areas. It’s amazing, and in some sense unfair, what a damaged face can do to a person” (ch.46).
Claire must have done something gruesome to do that much damage to his face. That injury definitely worked in her favour and what Paul said about the voters made me think of the media today. People are so used to seeing beautiful people in the media, for example those hot and sexy actors in TV shows, that it amplifies the shocked and possibly disgusted reaction towards people that are considered “ugly” in terms of the media. They often make judgments based on their appearance and not who the person actually is which I am guilty of too.
Moving on, what Michel says to Paul after the dinner was over made me question the validity of the narrator, Paul. He said to his father, “‘You’re laughing! You did that then too, the first time I told you about the cash machine. You remember? Up in my room? When I told you about the desk lamp you started laughing, and when I got to the jerrycan you were still laughing’” (ch. 46).
He said that Paul was laughing during those situations but I did not remember him mentioning that in his account of the story. Like Nick from The Great Gatsby, both narrators are biased and it was likely that they left some important details out which made them unreliable narrators. I thought the author’s decision to write the book in the perspective of Paul was an important one because the reader felt more connected to Paul and understood what he thought better. If you read Paul attacking the principal from a third person perspective, you likely would have thought that Paul is absolutely crazy and had no real reason to hit the principal. Having read the thoughts of Paul made what he did seem less brutal since you knew he did it for Michel. I think this novel demonstrated that parents are willing to do a lot for their children, but they can get carried away as a result of that.
All in all, having to read The Dinner was not as bad as I thought it would be. After reading about Paul and his family, I wonder what made the author write this book-what kind of experiences lead him to conceiving such a story? What do you guys think? Also, what did you think about the ending of the book? Did it feel unfinished or were you satisfied? Let me know in the comments below!