May & Marcher: From Everyone to Weatherend

In Halberstam’s article she paraphrases James C. Scott by stating, “to ‘see like a state’ means to accept the order of things and to internalize them;…think with the logic of orderliness…and indeed sacrifice other, more local practices of knowledge…that may be less efficient, may yield less remarkable results, but may also, in the long term, be more sustaining.” (9). This internalization is inherent in the motives and actions of Marcher, as well as Bartram, in as much as they don’t want to ‘rock the boat’ of life for themselves and lean on one another for the resemblance of normalization, ie; hetero-normalization and accumulation.

In the third chapter of The Beast in the Jungle, when the Bartram and Marcher have established their friendship, the conversation that takes place is one that truly defines what has become of their partnership around the mutual core of their fateful “knowing” as well as recognize the veil of difference between themselves and every other.

“’I never said,’ May Bartram replied, ‘that it hadn’t made me a good deal talked about.’

‘Ah well then you’re not saved.’

‘It hasn’t been a question for me. If you’ve had your woman I’ve had,’ she said, ‘my man.’

‘And you mean that makes you alright?’

 

The almost backward way in which she mentions the possible gossip about herself from the outside world in the first line of dialogue, implied by the word “it”, acknowledges an “other”-like presence that they both are aware of but not a part of. The object of the line “me” is buried in the middle of the phrase between the subject “it” and the action itself “talked about”. This ‘burying’ of herself is indicative of her relationship with Marcher (buffering him from the prying minds of normalized society) as well as giving no indication of a life of her own, being tied up as she was with the “knowing” of Marcher. There is also a parallel in the syntax of the two lines that Bartram speaks, with the phrase being broken up by noting that May or “she” is speaking.

Marcher’s reply to this using the word “saved” implies there is a universally understood form of right and wrong here, as well as a need to redeem oneself according to paradigm of their society or state that they feel estranged from; one that perpetuates hetero-coupling and accumulation as “norms”.

The certainty that Bartram speaks her lines with displays the duality of their relationship in terms of who is the giver and knower of knowledge (Bartram) and who is the novice or receiver of it (Marcher). She is sure of her statements saying, “I never,” definitively in the first line and stating that, “it hasn’t been a question,” for her, ie; she is certain. Marcher on the other hand begins his phrases as continuations of the statements she makes, with an, “Ah well then,” to indicate a challenge, albeit in a jocular tone. His second phrase is simply a question asking for clarification to her previous statement with the word “alright” again implying a counter-opposition to the norm.

The implied, as well as, outright acknowledgment of the hegemony in their dialogue is illustrative of the inside/outside aspects or “queer”ness that is a commonality in the dynamic of their relationship. Whether they are actually homosexual or spend their time queerly the tone is that of ‘recognized outsider’ and a masking of this same understanding. The role each takes on in the conversation as well as their relationship, the syntax used by James, and the choice of words is compositely representative of internalization of the state by these two, middling, muddling and memorable characters.

 

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