Summing the Parts to Understand the Whole

Henry James has surprisingly composed two works of fiction that is both comprehensible and enjoyable. The first is “The Pupil” where the main character Pemberton tutor a sickly child by the name of Morgan. Just like Rayshma stated in her blog, I am uncertain as well as to how this relates to the class’ theme, but I am willing to try to analyze a possible route. The story focuses on a family, the Moreens. They carry themselves as though they are members of the elite upper class, but truth be told, they are unable to pay their rent as well as their hotel bills, and as a result they move from different spaces in the story. They create a wide range in the texts chronotope where it first begins at Gentle, and surprisingly ends in the same area, but different hotel.

To the observers in the Moreen’s society, they are an upper class family who dine in expensive restaurants, stay at hotels that are not really considered lower class (with the exception of them stating that they couldn’t get the fancy ones that they wanted), and even dine in fancy opera boxes. My point is that they appear to be what they are not. In order to analyze the Moreen family one can not limit the characteristics to their extracurricular activities. The whole is required and it will bring into focus the fact that they are unable to pay the tutor of their young and sickly child. Not only are they not able to pay him, but they were unable to pay a nurse as well, so Pemberton was not just a mentor and tutor, but also a nurse and nanny. The Moreens played on Pemberton’s love for the child to “manipulate” as Rayshma puts it.

The same goes for the second story “The Real Thing”. In this narrative , the main character is an artist. He is presented with two characters, the Monarchs, who have fallen in status and seeks to obtain their way of living by posing for our unnamed protagonist. When greeted with the Monarchs, one gets the idea that they are in fact Monarchs. There is an upper class quality to them, and without further observation, it would seem as though their appearance illustrates their current status. Readers are then hit with the information that they were once a well off couple, but circumstances has reduced them to desiring to earn a meagre wage from modeling. When modeling didn’t work out, they were also willing to become house keepers. The models that did in fact replace them, were “acting” in a sense, and their persona that is transcribed by the protagonist makes them appear as the “real thing”. I guess what I am trying to say is that there is almost always room for inaccurate interpretation when the whole of a story is reduced to mere excerpts. In order to have an analysis that is truthful, and provable, readers should look on the whole to understand the parts. The parts are just pieces that when joined together, you get factual, or provable meaning. Not sure if this is clear, and I hope it can help to bring in a different perspective.

6 Responses to “Summing the Parts to Understand the Whole”

  1.   Dominique Says:

    Samantha, I am really proud of the work you did in class today–and of the fact that, as you say above, despite your uncertainty, you were willing to make a serious effort to interpret the relevance of “The Pupil” in relation to the themes of the course. Remember when you told me that you didn’t like “not understanding”? I think you’ve truly turned a corner. Brava!

    (I’m also happy to see that you’re reading others’ blogs.)


  2.   Priest Says:

    Hi there! This post could not be written any better! Looking at this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I most certainly will send this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. I appreciate you for sharing!

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