That Hideous Strength – The Liquidation of Anachronisms – Chapter 4.1

SUMMARY

Mrs Dimble arrives at Jane’s house (with Jane having just put clean sheets on “Mark’s bed”) and speaks a lot during the course of the chapter. There are full paragraphs of her just going on and on. Apparently Jane is speaking some as well since we see some of what Dimble says are answers to unwritten questions from Jane. First thing that morning some construction workers from NICE had arrive to send the Dimbles out of their house and to tear it down. Cecil (who lives at Bracton but teaches elsewhere) tries to get help on the phone from Busby and then from the NICE, but to no avail. He ends up sleeping at the college while Mother Dimble comes to stay with Jane. At bedtime Jane finds it awkward that Mother Dimble prays. (Apparently they do share a room, if not a bed.)

DISCUSSION

I just want to bring up Mark and Jane seeming to have different beds. I think that was a bit of a trend in the early 1900s, seen to be more hygienic or some such. I seem to recall that in Thurber’s My Life and Hard Times (ostensibly an autobiography or memoir of sorts, though written when he was in his mid-30s; I had a feeling the whole thing was completely made up.), his parents actually slept in completely different rooms. Maybe this is connected to Jane’s and Mark’s marriage problems, but I doubt it. It doesn’t seem to be a point of any consequence to Lewis. And there is no mention yet made of anyone else’s sleeping arrangements.

In a chapter titled The Liquidation of Anachronisms, the Dimble home seems to be the first such liquidation. I doubt it will be the last. Maybe the Dimbles themselves are the true anachronism here. Jane certainly considers Mrs Dimbles prayer habit out-dated. She is above such superstitions. And the way Mrs Dimble so longed for children that she never had. Jane certainly has no such anachronistic longing. Then there is her constant chattering: “It comes from being married thirty years. Husbands were made to be talked to. It helps them to concentrate their minds on what they’re reading – like the sound of a weir [that is water flowing over a small dam]” (75). I dont think this sentiment is as old-fashioned as it is wrong-headed. It is certainly not feminist. And there is no

 

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