In vanessatshionyi’s posts “Vincent’s Struggles” and “Beasts in the Jungle,” and pippyboy9’s post “May & Marcher: From Everyone to Weatherend” an interesting dialogue emerges that demonstrates just how much the idea of failure in the texts we have looked at is rooted in relations and relationships. Through these relationships it is clear that there is an anxiety about no just being a failure, but also of failing others. Not only that, but these posts also make it clear that the character’s failures are also defined through their relationships with others.
Both bloggers discussed Henry James’s The Beast in the Jungle, and the relationship between Marcher and May in said novella. While pippyboy9 discusses the performative nature of their relationship, vanessatshionyi talks about Marcher’s failure to recognize the possibility for love in his life. In discussing the queerness of the relationship between Marcher and May, pippyboy9 also discusses their relationship with the outside world. Specifically, pippyboy9 analyzes the scene where Marcher and May discuss the idea of “saving” one another and May saying she’s had her man. In regards to this scene pippyboy9 says: “The almost backwards way in which she mentions the possible gossip about herself from the outside world… acknowledges an ‘other’-like presence that they both are aware of but not part of.” The argument about not just the personal relationship between Marcher and May, but their relationship to the “other” and their acknowledgment of that relationship demonstrates their knowledge that they exist in a queer relationship, and that they are defined not only through their relationship with each other, but also through their relationship with the normative “other.”
Vanessatshionyi’s post focused more on their personal relationship, but through the lens of the final scene in which “Marcher sees the grieving man at the grave and suddenly has an awakening.” By examining their relationship through this lens, she, like the novella, creates a distance between Marcher and his relationship to May. She also reads the “beast” as being Marcher’s sexuality, and argues that “James never fully allows Marcher to explore his beast, and this repression of Marcher’ sexuality makes Marcher go insane.” By referring to Marcher “exploring” his beast she expands on the relationship that Marcher has with his beast, and highlights the fact that, like his relationship with May, there is a lot of distance between the two. What sets her argument apart from others is her reading of Marcher’s suppressed sexuality not as a suppressed homosexuality, but as Marcher refusing to acknowledge his sexual attraction to May. However, what she seems to be arguing is that at the end of the novella, the thing that Marcher seems to have missed out on the most is not his sexuality, but his lack of romance, and the potential for a romantic relationship he could have had with May.
Vanessatshionyi also wrote a post about “Time Out” where she discusses Vincent’s relationships with his various family members, and the ways in which they seem to fail. She starts off by discussing Vincent’s relationship with his children stating: “Vincent feels that in order to be a good father, he needs to provide financially to his children without being present.” She then argues that Vincent creates a relationship with his children purely through money, completely devoid of emotion. After talking about the scene towards the end of the film where Vincent’s children seem to fear him she says that “The children’s weariness towards their father shows how much his absence has created a strange place between himself and his family.” I find this description of there being a “place” between Vincent and his family a very accurate description of that scene as there was a sense of something almost physical separating Vincent from understanding his family in that moment. She then talks about how Vincent struggles to maintain a masculine image in front of his wife, and is afraid that if he admits to her that he lost his job, she won’t accept him. At the end of her post she discusses Vincent’s relationship with himself and how he is “not present in is own world,” using “world” to refer to all the relationships he has outside of himself. She talks about how throughout the movie we see Vincent choosing to spend most of his time alone, only occasionally checking in with his family, and this leads her to asking “how much does his family actually mean to him?” I think this brings an interesting aspect into the conversation, because it is clear throughout the film that his motivations are based around his not wanting to fail his family, or lose face in front of anyone, but if we really look at how much his family means to him then we must consider whether or not these motivations come from real love for the people around him, or from a simple sense of obligation.
What these different posts show is the variety of ways in which character’s failure are defined through their relationships with others, and how even the most impersonal relationships can hold a great weight. I think what we can learn from this, and from Murphy as well is that failure and relationships are often intertwined.