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Lecture 13

ENG236H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 13: Cool Air, The Main Point

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Jennifer Levine

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October 21st ENG236
The Underground Man, Ross Macdonald
- Moving forward to the 1970s
- The next two texts we are dealing with are from the same time period
- Underground Man is from the USA and Unsuitable Job for a Woman is from Britain
Working through the first chapter as if we don’t know what is coming next
- There is several ways that this first chapter can be compared to The Big Sleeps first chapter
- Sometimes, the best way to see something is to put it next to something else
- When we meet Marlowe, he is up and dressed, ready for the client
- When we meet Archer, he is just waking up, unshaven, going through his morning routine
- Opposite mornings – Archer describes the momentary nice weather, while Marlowe looks at the overall gloomy
- First three paragraphs. We get what Archer senses. There is changing wind – first hot, and then cool from the
ocean. He smells the hot air from the inland desert, then the cool air from the ocean, and in the middle where he
is, is slightly used West Los Angeles – between two air spaces.
- You can imagine the geography of where he is
- The main point is that he is giving you three spaces (3 kinds of air)
- Can you imagine Marlowe feeding birds? No, they are very different characters. Archer comes across as a
caregiver or a father in the way he treats the birds
- In the detective novels we have seen so far, we have seen numerous interactions (men, women, orangutans, police
etc.) but this is the first time we have seen an interaction with the detective and a child
- Notice here that questions are asked and answers are given – unlike Marlowe, who changes the subject as he
doesn’t want to answer
- Usually we see the detective as the person in control, but here it is a child in control of the interaction
- Notice how the little boy is described as a bird. The mention of two birds fighting/killing each other for food
creates a concern that maybe this child will turn into a killer. We have to wonder this because after all, it is a
detective novel
- The arrival of Stanley and the woman – what do we notice here?
oThink about this in comparison with the descriptions we have had with Marlowe
oWe don’t have much description of the woman. Whereas Marlowe gives a very detailed account of the
oHe doesn’t describe much about Stanleys looks other than it was a grown up version of Ronny. This
makes us think he might be childlike, which is confirmed by his behaviour following his appearance
oRonny and Stanley are linked not based on looks, but on their shared air of anxiety
oArcher shares his feelings and acknowledges them. He wanted to punch Stanley but knew it would be bad
for Ronny and his mother. He is aware of his own feelings and others
oMarlowe has feelings, but he isn’t into talking about them
- What about the way the man and woman move toward Ronny? It’s like the birds swooping down on the food.
Hostile and defence
- Both Stanley and Jean are aggressive, with Ronny between them
- In The Big Sleep, every scene is organized around Marlowe’s actions and words. But in this scene, Archer has all
this going on around him while he says/does nothing. His first action is to protect Ronny when he might be hit. He
speaks well once Stanley has made an accusation to him. He doesn’t make a witty or cutting comment. He is
straightforward and gives information to Stanley- he doesn’t hold his cards close.
- Top of page 7 – he was tempted to hit him, but it wouldn’t do any good for Ronny and his mother. Archer is more
concerned about others than himself, as opposed to Marlowe
- What about the words of the child at the end, after the father says he has a right to take his son
oThe boy instinctively recognizes the authority and caregiving sense in Archer when he asks if he has to go
oArcher takes on this role with the birds – they are his birds.
- Ronny wanting to stay with Archer could be a sign of how little love he really feels with his parents, or his fear of
their aggression and anger toward each other
- From the middle of page 8
oJean offers Archer some coffee
oNotice that he called her Mrs. Broadhurst – he doesn’t take any liberties and is formal
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