The Ginger Man Question #9 - The Men

by J.P. Donleavy

Moderator: Liz

User avatar
Liz
ONBC Moderator
Posts: 12971
Joined: Thu Jun 24, 2004 2:13 pm
Location: The Left Coast

Status: Offline

Unread postby Liz » Tue Apr 11, 2006 9:22 pm

Bix wrote:I'm struggling with this one today and I'm not sure why. It may be that the men are not well-developed characters and serve as foils for SD, but as I looked back through the book there was a great deal more there than I remembered. One thing that caught my eye was what Sebastian says, watching Kenneth walk away: "...and his one eye, a wet gem seeking out the sign which pointed the road to the limbo of the living, the deep carpeted womb of the idle rich." It struck me that not only was O'Keefe looking for the easy good life, so certainly was Sebastian and most of the others. And Percy Clockland found it! Although the implication seems to be that his wealth came from sources not exactly on the up and up. I couldn't remember if McDoon actually had money or not, but he was certainly Sebastian's match in sheer craziness and audacity.

The other three Irishmen I see as stereotypes or caricatures almost. Skully is the classic landlord from hell (although he certainly had a tenant from the same place!). Tony Malarky seemed the roaring, boozing everyman, cleverly facing down poverty with every trick in his arsenal (much like S, but without that "entitled" edge to it). And Mary's Dad would be the mean Irish drunk from Central Casting, sadistically beating his daughter while making sure he kept her around to wait on him and care for her brothers.

I'm thinking I may have to read this book again, because I have a feeling I've missed a great deal more to know about at least some of these men.


It doesn't seem like you are struggling with this one to me, Bix. You've certainly captured each man much better than I could have. And how intuitive of you to pick up on that line about O'Keefe. :cool:
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

User avatar
dharma_bum
Posts: 2509
Joined: Sat Jun 25, 2005 2:05 am
Location: Villa Incognito

Status: Offline

Unread postby dharma_bum » Wed Apr 12, 2006 4:03 am

Say what you will about the women, but they were full of life and not the colorless and one-dimensional creatures that comprise the cast of men. In the words of the Earl: "There is no man born has no need of the whorehouse and the inn.” The men certainly lived up to that assessment.
"You can't broom out your head. You certainly can't broom out your heart. And there's a hot wire between them, and everything shows in the eyes."
—Johnny Depp

User avatar
DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
Posts: 10378
Joined: Mon Jun 21, 2004 10:43 pm
Location: Austin

Status: Offline

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Apr 12, 2006 8:30 am

Bix, I agree with Liz. Very nice assessment! :cool:

db, the Earl was right on the money with these guys!
:banghead:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!

User avatar
suec
Posts: 1381
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 1:57 pm
Location: uk

Status: Offline

Unread postby suec » Wed Apr 12, 2006 4:47 pm

I think they are stock characters. Skully, the avaricious landlord, seems to be a variation on the miser, with a dash of affectation thrown in. The others are tricksters, using their wits to get by. However,. O'Keefe, Percy and Tony Malarkey are all given an opportunity to say what they want out of life, or what they would do with wealth, which I think is important, and it reveals some interesting differences between them. Apart from going on about sex, O'Keefe wants the status of wealth, to walk into a hotel and instruct the porter to garage his Daimler for him. (p243) On the other hand, Tony Mallarkey would give some of it away and drink the remainder, while walking to Kerry where he will weep into the sea. (p281) Percy Clocklin, however, doesn't say that he wants wealth out of life. He just wants an armful of woman (expressed in the crudest of terms) and kids (155). Their desires reflect their natures and circumstances.
O'Keefe is a killjoy. He has no joie de vivre himself and walks away from the action. He is a moaner and a loser, almost an antagonist with SD at times rather than a pal. Percy is, well, bestial. Almost on the scale of Pan. More than once, animal imagery is used to describe him - a bull though. That is, while he is in Ireland. In England, he is something else, a king, virtually, with his cane substituting as a sceptre. Back in Dublin, he is 'keeper of the kip'. But 'Bloody Clocklan owns London. Own the kip'. (p327) and he claims to have blue blood in his veins. Certainly, he behaves like that when SD is rude at the party, decreeing that no-one shalll harm him. I am struggling a bit with the religious overtones with PC. He is 'resurrected' on Christmas Eve, with this almost miraculous display of wealth so mysteriously acquired, having been transformed from lavatory attendant to lord of the manor, and SD is able to celebrate that 'my redeemer liveth'. Well, he would say that, with PC saving his bacon. But is it also that knavery is a religion for him?
Meanwhile, back in Dublin, Tony Mallarkey is left behind, fighting his last stand on his own. (Reminiscent of Cuchullain's last stand: a mythical character who tied himself to a rock so that his enemies wouldn't see that he was fallen in battle. His enemies didn't dare approach him until they saw birds standing on him). Perhaps I am imagining the connection. But I think that mythical or allegorical language is used for him. He is a 'direct descendant of the original king' and on p 281, 'I look into Tone's face, which is Ireland'. I think him weeping into the sea is along those lines too. I personally think he is the best of the bunch. What I also like is that he manages to inspire SD to generosity, who gives him a pound.
MacDoon made very little impression on me, except that I noticed Donleavy gave him Behan's line about How's your hammer hanging? And that he is a match for SD out on the town.
"Luck... inspiration... both only really happen to you when you empty your heart of ambition, purpose, and plan; when you give yourself, completely, to the golden, fate-filled moment."

User avatar
Bix
Posts: 687
Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2005 2:14 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Status: Offline

Unread postby Bix » Wed Apr 12, 2006 5:55 pm

See? I told you there was more to these guys than met first glance. Wow, suec! Thank you for some amazing insights into these characters. Now I really have to read it again.
Live! Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death! ~Auntie Mame

User avatar
DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
Posts: 10378
Joined: Mon Jun 21, 2004 10:43 pm
Location: Austin

Status: Offline

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Apr 12, 2006 6:29 pm

suec... :notworthy:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

User avatar
Liz
ONBC Moderator
Posts: 12971
Joined: Thu Jun 24, 2004 2:13 pm
Location: The Left Coast

Status: Offline

Unread postby Liz » Wed Apr 12, 2006 7:22 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:suec... :notworthy:


What she said....or did.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

User avatar
Gilbert's Girl
Posts: 162863
Joined: Sun Oct 03, 2004 3:14 am
Location: UK

Status: Offline

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Thu Apr 13, 2006 2:16 am

Incredible suec, do you do this professionally? :cool:

User avatar
suec
Posts: 1381
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 1:57 pm
Location: uk

Status: Offline

Unread postby suec » Thu Apr 13, 2006 7:30 pm

I'm a teacher, GG. But I am also the daughter of a Dubliner and that is affecting how I read the book. For instance, when Tony tells SD that he won't give up while there's a spud left in Ireland, I see that as a reference to the Irish potato famine in the 1840s, which decimated the population. Many died. Many emigrated. So then Tony's stand takes on a whole other layer of meaning. But of course, I could be seeing things that just aren't intended by the writer.
"Luck... inspiration... both only really happen to you when you empty your heart of ambition, purpose, and plan; when you give yourself, completely, to the golden, fate-filled moment."

User avatar
DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
Posts: 10378
Joined: Mon Jun 21, 2004 10:43 pm
Location: Austin

Status: Offline

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Apr 13, 2006 9:12 pm

Whether inteneded by the writer or not, suec, I think you are right on the money! :cool:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

User avatar
Gilbert's Girl
Posts: 162863
Joined: Sun Oct 03, 2004 3:14 am
Location: UK

Status: Offline

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Fri Apr 14, 2006 3:01 am

suec wrote:I'm a teacher, GG. But I am also the daughter of a Dubliner and that is affecting how I read the book. For instance, when Tony tells SD that he won't give up while there's a spud left in Ireland, I see that as a reference to the Irish potato famine in the 1840s, which decimated the population. Many died. Many emigrated. So then Tony's stand takes on a whole other layer of meaning. But of course, I could be seeing things that just aren't intended by the writer.


Yes, I picked that up too, I just read a book that involved the Potato famine, it was very interesting as it revealed alot of things I didn't know about it.My great great grandparents came over to England from Ireland sometime during the 1850's, as yet I don't know if they were driven out by the effects of the famine.


Return to “The Ginger Man”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest