Yes, it skips Thursday. The reason for it is most likely that this is a brief section describing the events the day before Barry Fairbrother’s funeral, and all significant events of Thursday are summarized briefly. And we need to get things moving more quickly.
Rowling does a good job solemnly describing Barry lying dead in his coffin and the events surrounding his family going to view it. Also, it’s hard to see how Barry could still be alive now that his body has been described lying there at the undertaker’s (with “deep black cuts in the white scalp“, presumably from the autopsy of his brain; you know what, I’m gonna write it down right here. If I die under any circumstances, you are to leave my body untouched until you can find a coffin, then place my body in the coffin and never open it again.)
Mary had been undecided, almost until the minute of departure, as to whether she should allow all of he children to see their father’s remains. Declan was a sensitive boy, prone to nightmares.
Then why would there be any choice? It amazes me that she actually took them in the end, that there was ever a hard decision to make! What child would actually want to look at his father’s corpse?
Mary is such a selfish person telling Colin he couldn’t go say goodbye to Barry’s body because she had planned on it being a family affair. Colin had every right to go, and Rowling does such a job describing his grief upon learning she will not allow him to go. Colin is far too kind vowing not to hold it against her.
That he, Colin, who felt himself to be perpetually the outsider and the oddball, for whom life was a matter of daily struggle, had managed to forge a friendship with the cheerful, popular and eternally optimistic Barry, had always seemed a small miracle.
know just how you feel, Colin.
But then there is a break in the page, and we switch to Gavin. This is strange, because it’s the way most authors write in scene-changes like this, yet Rowling uses section divisions for all times before and after this from what I can tell. Why didn’t she divide this chapter into three parts, like all the others, even “Olden Days”?
The writing from Gavin’s perspective is again excellently written, solemn and sad. Gavin’s feelings are explored well by Rowling.
By the time he was washing up his plate and cutlery at the sink, Gavin would have gladly missed the funeral altogether. As for the idea of viewing his dead friend’s body, it had not, and would never have occurred to him.
My father hates funerals for that reason. He vowed at his grandfather’s funeral in 2006 never to attend another one.
And poor Gavin is in such a dreadful situation there doesn’t appear to be any way out.
Then we switch to Dr. Jawanda’s perspective using another chapter break. (???????????????) Her thoughts are done very well. I hated how we hardly ever got into the thoughts of Sara Gruen’s characters in Water for Elephants. They were basically empty cardboard cut-outs, non-real people placed in a real world. This is not true for Rowling’s in The Casual Vacancy or the
Harry Potter series. They are very good, thoroughly explored characters. (Quick mention: Dr. Jawanda’s regret over her thoughts reminds of the much more funny way Nesbit portrayed this in Edred in the final chapter of The House of Arden. Rowling likes Nesbit, wonder if she read that. Sorry, sorry. I’m turning into her.)
Barry was dead; she had endured nearly five days of deep grief for him, and tomorrow they would bury him in the earth. The prospect was unpleasant to Perminder. She had always hated the idea of interment, of a body lying whole under the ground, slowly rotting away, riddled with maggots and flies. The Sikh way was to cremate and to scatter the ashes in running water.
I’ve always hated the idea of cremation because of the idea of my body being burned up and leaving nothing but ashes so I am nothing more than the butt of every tired sitcom joke. But now I can see the other side’s point of view.
And again Rowling evokes such deep emotions with material from a religion other than Christianity. Yet I was shocked to discover that people were actually angry at Rowling for her portrayal of Sikhs. (WHAT?”
And then without any warning Rowling just switches to her daughter Sukhvinder’s second-person POV. This is excellent writing, and Rowling does such a good job portraying the girl’s depression. We saw Fats’ teasing of her as nothing more than comic relief when we were in his POV, now it’s anything but. If you want problems with Fats’s philosophy, just read these pages. It’s all you need. Case closed.
Sukhvinder lay on her back on top of her covers and wished with all of her being that she were dead. If she could have achieved suicide, simply by willing it, she would have done it without hesitation. Death had come to Mr. Fairbrother; why could it not happen to her? Better yet, why could they not swap places? Niamh and Siobhan could have their father back, and she, Sukhvinder, could simply slip into nonbeing: wiped out, wiped clean.
Ohh, I have felt exactly the same way. Rowling’s depiction is spot-on. Although I’ve heard she contemplated suicide herself in her twenties, so this must be drawing on at least some of her feelings.
And reading Sukhvinder’s memory of Krystal jokingly teasing her, I have to ask – again, how did people object to this depiction of Sikhs? It makes – no – sense! She depicts them like regular people. Even if it’s due to Sukhvinder being mocked, just read this! HOW CAN YOU THINK IT WAS PORTRAYED AS A GOOD THING? HOW CAN YOU THINK THE SIKHS WERE DEPICTED BADLY? ???????????? (Also nice to see more of who Barry was. I’m not sure about the rumor of him taking bribes; it seems like he was an all-around good guy.)
And… ohh, this is such depressing, but such excellent, such effective writing. I can see why some people found this book so depressing they couldn’t stand it, but it’s important to show the consequences of bullying, and the description of her depression and cutting herself in such vivid detail does a perfect job of it. Besides, if it effected them that much, then that shows it is good writing. (I have noticed that Rowling keeps reusing “her, ——-” which is unnecessary and annoying, and the nickname “people carrier for cars”, however. At first I assumed, like the author of an Amazon.com review I read, that it was so as not to reuse the word “car” in a single sentence, but no, it’s practically her way of saying “car”.)
The blade drew the pain away from her screaming thoughts and transmuted it into animal burning of nerves and skin: relief and release in every cut.
I have had problems with depression myself but I still cannot understand why someone would cut themselves. I’m sorry, I just can’t. (Also, the fact that she takes the razor blade out of the ear of her old teddy bear is a good symbolic metaphor for the change from innocent childhood to the adult problems of the real world. From Harry Potter to The Casual Vacancy. Harry only cut himself due to the Dursleys’ abuse in fanfiction.)
Very good chapter. Excellent writing all-around. Back with Barry’s funeral tomorrow. (Ohh more sad.)