The Ginger Man Question #25 - The End

by J.P. Donleavy

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The Ginger Man Question #25 - The End

Unread postby Liz » Thu Apr 27, 2006 6:56 am

What do the last paragraph and poem mean?

He was walking down the slope side of the bridge past this broken building, a straight dark figure and stranger. Come here till I tell you. Where is the sea high and the winds soft and moist and warm, sometimes stained with sun, with peace so wild for wishing where all is told and telling. On a winter night I heard horses on a country road, beating sparks out of the stones. I knew they were running away and would be crossing the fields where the pounding would come up into my ears. And I said they are running out to death which is with some soul and their eyes are mad and teeth out.

God’s mercy
On the wild
Ginger Man.


Stay tuned for the last question tomorrow....
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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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Thu Apr 27, 2006 9:04 am

:-? I had to read it several times over and over and again here, all I can think of is it has something to do with death, but it leads to what I assume will be your question of tomorrow :-?

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Unread postby Liz » Thu Apr 27, 2006 9:27 am

Gilbert's Girl wrote::-? I had to read it several times over and over and again here, all I can think of is it has something to do with death, but it leads to what I assume will be your question of tomorrow :-?


Nope. Not really, GG. This is your chance to discuss the ending.
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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Unread postby Endora » Thu Apr 27, 2006 10:32 am

The passage has the bittersweet quality that was spoken about yesterday, doesn't it. I like the way JPD uses words like "stained with sun." And "peace so wild". Both of these images are unusual, sun usually brightens, not dirties, and peace is rarely wild. So what is he getting at, what does he want us to realise? I think the next part, about horse running, tells us. SD is running away, running to be free, but running into danger. Freedom isn't safe, you have to leave the supporting structures of job, family, friends, behind. It takes strength to do that, to burn your bridges like SD has done. Or perhaps it needs great arrogance or foolishness. Whichever one of these SD has, now he's on his own, heading towards who knows what. The only chance he has, now that he's let everyone down, is the mercy of God...the last haiku.
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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Thu Apr 27, 2006 10:39 am

Liz wrote:
Gilbert's Girl wrote::-? I had to read it several times over and over and again here, all I can think of is it has something to do with death, but it leads to what I assume will be your question of tomorrow :-?


Nope. Not really, GG. This is your chance to discuss the ending.

OK not entirely sure because the ending confused me alot and the whole last chapter but I assumed he was commiting suicide, am I right or have I totally missed the point here.

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Apr 27, 2006 10:49 am

My first interpreation is that danger/wildness is everywhere and he feels he is being constantly pursued by death. He is running to stay alive and nature/society in the conventional sense does not exist for him nor does it matter. He is at the mercy of life and of God.

GG, I had not considered that he was committing suicide. I think someone mentioned in an earlier question that they thought he had gone insane.
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 -
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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Thu Apr 27, 2006 12:13 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:My first interpreation is that danger/wildness is everywhere and he feels he is being constantly pursued by death. He is running to stay alive and nature/society in the conventional sense does not exist for him nor does it matter. He is at the mercy of life and of God.

GG, I had not considered that he was committing suicide. I think someone mentioned in an earlier question that they thought he had gone insane.


Well as I say I was baffled totally by this last page, as it seems contrary to everything that had gone before, but I couldn't understand why he would be walking down that side of the bridge otherwise wasn't it towards the railway track or the river I can't recall now but it just seemed that way to me.
I can't remmeber who was the friend who they thought had thrown himself off the ship, somehow I thought thats what he was talking about too he seemed before to think that would be a good end. But as I say I might be totally off the point.

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Unread postby Bix » Thu Apr 27, 2006 4:01 pm

It never ceases to amaze me the different interpretations we bring to the exact same words! And most all of them are plausible and reasonable. My take on the ending is completely different - I wondered why the book ended on such a happy note! Sebastian has his suit and cane and is on his way to Mary's place to eat bacon and eggs and drink champagne and make a baby on Christmas day. I see this last passage, with its beautiful images, as his longing for a safe, comfortable place and the horses as his fear that he won't find it, perhaps. But I thought the haiku was a little prayer he said as he went merrily on his way to make a mess of someone else's life. Perhaps I took it all too literally or missed something?
Live! Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death! ~Auntie Mame

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Unread postby Liz » Thu Apr 27, 2006 6:23 pm

Bix wrote:It never ceases to amaze me the different interpretations we bring to the exact same words! And most all of them are plausible and reasonable. My take on the ending is completely different - I wondered why the book ended on such a happy note! Sebastian has his suit and cane and is on his way to Mary's place to eat bacon and eggs and drink champagne and make a baby on Christmas day. I see this last passage, with its beautiful images, as his longing for a safe, comfortable place and the horses as his fear that he won't find it, perhaps. But I thought the haiku was a little prayer he said as he went merrily on his way to make a mess of someone else's life. Perhaps I took it all too literally or missed something?


I'm with you on that, Bix. I think he has a fear and obsession with death. But I don't think he really wants to go there.
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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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Apr 27, 2006 6:27 pm

Interesting, Bix! I had the feeling that Sebastian was leading Mary on, all the talk of of a home and a lawn and a baby, telling her what she wanted to hear but not really meaning a word of it! As he is walking to her house he gets distracted by the bleakness of the warehouse and that seem to grab his attention and he seems to be back into his dreary reality and out of the dream with Mary. I guess my opinion of Sebastian didn't change by the end...
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 Bix » Thu Apr 27, 2006 6:37 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:Interesting, Bix! I had the feeling that Sebastian was leading Mary on, all the talk of of a home and a lawn and a baby, telling her what she wanted to hear but not really meaning a word of it!
I absolutely agree, DITHOT. I just don't see him leaving without his bacon and eggs and champagne! :lol: My opinion of him hasn't changed either, which is what I meant by him saying a selfish little prayer for himself as he sets forth to repeat his past.
Live! Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death! ~Auntie Mame

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Unread postby SamIam » Thu Apr 27, 2006 9:11 pm

I think it is that he feels that society is killing him because he can't be free to do what he wants. It is about death and I think it is death of freedom for Sebastien.
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the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. -Eleanor Roosevelt

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Apr 27, 2006 9:34 pm

Good point, Bix! Sebastian wouldn't turn down a free meal or a tryst now would he? That poem at the end does seem to say he knows he isn't going to change.

SamIam, do you think that the feeling Sebastian has about the death of freedom means he feels like he should give in to what society wants/expects him to be or that he is thumbing his nose at society and going on his path?
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 Gilbert's Girl » Fri Apr 28, 2006 2:14 am

So no one else thinks he commits suicide its just about the death of his way of life.I can see that its just I can't shake it being the way I read it even though its seemed at odds with him. I am and was very confused with the last few pages, even after reading them several times.

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Unread postby dharma_bum » Fri Apr 28, 2006 2:36 am

Since I’ve posted twice to the Johnny and Boxers thread, this seems like fitting penance.

GG... I think that SD was contemplating suicide:
“Turning up this road, a long empty gray. It’s cold around my throat. I think I’m weary of my terrifying heart…. Now this bridge."
He begins to confront his own moral bankruptcy:
“This warehouse badly needing repair. I must stop and look through these busted grimy windows and see what is being stored away. The sun is weak, Mary.”
But… he changes his mind, and turns toward the light:
“Come here till I tell you.”(God calling him back?)
Death rushes past him (Revelations and the horseman of the apocalypse):
“On a winter night I heard horses on a country road, beating sparks out of the stones. I knew they were running away and would be crossing the fields where the pounding would come up into my ears. And I said they are running out to death which is with some soul and their eyes are mad and teeth out.”
SD survives free and wild.

The entire last passage reminded a lot the Emily Dickenson poem “Because I could not stop for Death” The outcome... quite different.

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away?
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played
At wrestling in a ring;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling in the ground;
The roof was scarcely visibly,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then ’t is centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity
"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


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