Monday, December 27, 2010

Chapter 23

In a way, this chapter takes us back to the beginning. Frans Laarmans is headed to the cemetery, where he goes every year. This is the first year he's going to see both parents.

On the way there, he buys some flowers. As in the beginning of the book, he is far from perfect. While carrying them around, he wonders about how he looks to others. Is he beyond reproach, or is the bouquet so big that he looks silly? Similarly, once he is before his parents' graves, he makes a conscious effort to grieve in the correct way, doffing his hat for a minute of silence.

While looking around for their graves, there is some surprise grief as he passes by the marker that reveals the existence of a second daughter who died as a little girl.

Once again, Dick Matena's scenery brilliantly adds to the story without being distracting. My favorite scene is on p. 279. We see Frans from the side, and he is looking away. Our attention is directed to what he is looking at, a grey scene of hats, umbrellas and bowed heads as Antwerp gets pounded by rain and snow.

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