The Ginger Man Question #15 ~ A Bundle of Contradictions

by J.P. Donleavy

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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The Ginger Man Question #15 ~ A Bundle of Contradictions

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Apr 17, 2006 8:39 am

We touched on this to an extent yesterday but thinking in broader terms - Sebastian Daingerfield seems to be a bundle of contradictions. He wants the companionship of a woman but pushes them away, he wants a life of ease and wealth but won’t work for it, and he wants to be a respected lawyer but won’t study. What do you make of his contradictory traits?
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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Mon Apr 17, 2006 1:43 pm

He is a complete mess :lol:

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Unread postby PhD » Mon Apr 17, 2006 2:09 pm

He wants all of these things, but I don't think he wants to work for them. Sustaining a relationship is work ... becoming a lawyer is work. Perhaps he's lazy, or perhaps he's afraid of failure. I lean towards his being afraid of failure.
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Unread postby QueenofKings » Mon Apr 17, 2006 2:12 pm

I think that a lot of people are afraid of success as much as they are afraid of failing, and I think S would fall into that category. It also seems like he has that feeling of entitlement, that things are his due whether he works for them or not.

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Unread postby Theresa » Mon Apr 17, 2006 2:26 pm

Yes, entitlement -- thanks, Queen.That's the word that I couldn't think of.

That's how I also saw Sebastian. That all these things were due to him, and it shouldn't be necessary to work to get them. Although it seemed that he worked harder at shirking responsibility and conning people than if he had just been a responsible man.

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Apr 17, 2006 2:50 pm

He came from a wealthy family and expected to have access to that money without really being expected to do anything to earn it. Maybe that is how he was brought up, to expect everything you want to be handed to you without putting in any real effort to get it. I believe in Liz's tidbit from The History of the Ginger Man, Donleavy wrote that GI's in Europe after WWII were treated very well by the people and that would have added to the inflation of his already oversized ego. Reality was a real drag for Sebastian! :freaked:
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!

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Unread postby Liz » Mon Apr 17, 2006 3:16 pm

QofK, Theresa & DITHOT, I think you've covered my sentiments on that quite well. Entitlement is a perfect word. He wants status, love, a simple roof over his head--but doesn't want to work for it.
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Unread postby Charlene » Mon Apr 17, 2006 3:21 pm

Liz wrote:QofK, Theresa & DITHOT, I think you've covered my sentiments on that quite well. Entitlement is a perfect word. He wants status, love, a simple roof over his head--but doesn't want to work for it.


Yes, yes...and (a lightbulb has gone off in my head) perhaps that is the whole moral of the story.....you can't always count on entitlement....think of the stories you hear of rich families leaving it all to charities and shutting out the kids to some extent as the "need to work for their own money."

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Unread postby suec » Mon Apr 17, 2006 4:55 pm

I like the point about entitlement. He says somewhere that the world was made for him, and he conducts himself accordingly. Part of his problem seems to be that he takes it completely for granted that he will inherit wealth, so not only is he not prepared to work for it, he won't play the game for it either, and seems hellbent on antagonising people who could help him, as Marion says at one point. He doesn't seem to feel that he needs a career as such. He has chosen law because he sees it as giving him the status he wants. He can visualise success; he can see himself in his office and wearing the fancy clothes. He can also see failure looming ahead, and imagines reading the notice where he is the candidate who has failed his exams. But he cannot, or will not, do anything to prevent it from happening. He doesn't seem at any point to have had to deal with consequences of his actions. I mean, he has been expelled from schools - schools - but is still at university.
He is obsessed with dignity; he goes on about it all the time. But he makes himself ridiculous in all sorts of ways, such as his clothing. And there is certainly no dignity to be found in scrounging from others, or hiding from the landlord. He regards parenthood as a trap, but the sort of poverty that he is living in is surely a worse trap. Possibly, he expects his father to die soon, so that problem will go away. I seem to vaguely remember that. I was surprised by him agreeing to give Mary a baby
I see less of a contradiction in his attitude to women. He wants them for sex and looking after him, and puts a romantic gloss on that at times. I don't think he is unique there.
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Unread postby SamIam » Mon Apr 17, 2006 5:43 pm

I agree. He was afraid of failure just like Macbeth is because once he finds out he's going to be King he doesn't work for it. He just kills off everyone that is in his way instead of working towards it like Sebastien wouldn't work hard for anything he wanted. They sort of expected everything to be handed to them.
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Unread postby Charlene » Mon Apr 17, 2006 7:52 pm

as to his dignity.....I was really getting grossed out by the fact that the guy never seemed to take a bath.

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Apr 17, 2006 8:12 pm

One of his many less than endearing qualities, Charlene! :lol:
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!

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Unread postby stroch » Mon Apr 17, 2006 10:09 pm

In a way, Sebastian's filthiness and tattered clothes are another contradiction. It's as if he feels that he doesn't have to make the effort, because what he looks like is not who he is. That's not really what I mean -- it's hard to articulate. He doesn't seem to see himself as others see him -- he is who he is, and what he looks like -- or smells like -- is something he becomes aware of only sporadically.

It reminds me of Johnny -- people always comment on his messy hair and ill-fitting clothes, his hats, his dangles, and his drapes. How "people" perceive him seems to be irrelevant to him.

When you live inside your own mind, you don't realize that you didn't comb your hair or that your shirt has missing buttons.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Apr 17, 2006 10:55 pm

What you are saying stroch is that his outward appearance is of no importance to him because what is taking place in his own mind is infinitely more interesting than what is taking place around him...(Sorry! Your post just reminded me of that quote from TL.) Although in Sebastian's mind he isn't necessarily trying to connect the inner and the outer persona.
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!

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Unread postby Liz » Mon Apr 17, 2006 11:37 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:What you are saying stroch is that his outward appearance is of no importance to him because what is taking place in his own mind is infinitely more interesting than what is taking place around him...(Sorry! Your post just reminded me of that quote from TL.) Although in Sebastian's mind he isn't necessarily trying to connect the inner and the outer persona.


I think he just doesn't really care enough about pleasing other people. I think he thinks he's so great that he doesn't have to do anything to make himself presentable.
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.


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