TPAOL Question #25 - Parallels to Other Books

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TPAOL Question #25 - Parallels to Other Books

Unread postby Liz » Sun Feb 25, 2007 1:54 pm

Compare the lofty goals of the Skoptsy and the communist revolutionaries with that of Antoine in Happy Days and/or Khader Khan in Shantaram.

Do you see parallels to any other ONBC books?
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Unread postby suec » Sun Feb 25, 2007 5:37 pm

OK, I'll kick off. Parallels with other books?
The Libertine comes to mind. That line where Charles 11 says to Wilmot that it is fun being against something, but sometimes you have to start being for something. I found myself wanting to say that to Samarin.
Perfume: the powerful evocative description, the satire at times, and the journey along with the mind outside of normal morals. Also the wilderness in some ways: where he goes and stays up in the mountains for a while away from civilisation.
The non-ONBC book I am reminded of is Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. (I am being a bit sneaky here, but it is mentioned in The Rum Diary.) This because of Matula, really, and the sense of what people can do when they are outside of the usual restraints.
Khader Khan: the admiration he inspires in Lin, compared with how Samarin is admired when he arrives by some of the Czechs, but also a certain cavalier attitude, for example in the way that he sacrifices Lin. The ideals I can remember less well, and will have to check the book to look them up.
Happy Days: Antoine opting out of wider society, and also the idea of sacrifice, because he does refer to this. I would say also, he is misguided in the way that the TPAOL characters are, but I always was quite resistant to Antoine's approach. :blush:
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Unread postby gemini » Sun Feb 25, 2007 8:32 pm

Compare the lofty goals of the Skoptsy and the communist revolutionaries with that of Antoine in Happy Days and/or Khader Khan in Shantaram.
Whoa Liz, I had to read that question twice just to get it straight in my head. We are back to the tough questions, I see.

Skopsky's goal was to set themselves above others morally, as in angels , and more worthy of heaven than others. I think Antionne in Happy days set himself apart from others but I am not sure he had heaven in mind, more of an inner self awareness. He studied death to learn the value of life without much thought of the afterlife.

Khader Khan had the same loyalty and willingness to do what ever is necessary as the communist revolutionaries each to save their own homelands.


Do you see parallels to any other ONBC books? If you look hard enough there are always parallels.

Class Equality
Sweeney Todd was living in the poor underclass in poverty and the inequality of the classes made him helpless against Judge Turpin sending him to jail and taking his wife. The communist revolutionaries were rebelling against inequality of the classes.
Chocolat the gypsies were considered lesser class.

Sacrificing Life
In a Long Way Down they all were in the turmoil of deciding if their lives were worth living. The Skopskys decided their lives were not worthwhile and gave up the lives they knew as a sacrifice for a higher cause.

Irrational Behavior
In " The Secret Window", Mort looses his internal battle over his writing ethics when his wife's affair tips him over the edge to insanity and murder. Balashov looses his ability to handle lifes cruelties and in an insane moment is convinced to give up his manhood. Samarin looses his rationality of right and wrong in his desparation to change the world.

OK enough, I has to stretch a bit to get these.
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Unread postby Liz » Sun Feb 25, 2007 9:14 pm

I’m about to have some people over for the Oscars, so this is a quickie response.

Gemini, I’m impressed with the thought you put into your answer. Maybe the question wasn’t as hard as you originally thought. I guess there are more parallels than I thought. :-O And I think there might even be more. :-?

I immediately thought of Khader Kahn when Samarin was trying to convince Anna why it would be OK to eat your traveling companion for the greater good. I thought of how he experimented on the people in the slum without any guilt because it was for the greater good—specifically his homeland, as you said, Gemini. I don’t want to go into too much detail in case there are those who have not yet read Shantaram. But those of you who have will know what I mean.

And I would compare Antoine to Balashov because he gave up his life as he knew it in the pursuit of understanding death. I think they were both religious experiences albeit a bit extreme.

Suec, The Libertine is also one I hadn’t thought of. I like it.
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Unread postby Red Shoes » Sun Feb 25, 2007 9:18 pm

I think Samarin is similar to Khader Khan in the way that he has a very large, broad vision of a better future, and feels that smaller current issues are but minor details in the big picture. They both are fine with sacrificing people they see as useful to the cause - but they do both acknowledge that they are doing something wrong in killing or letting people die. They are, as the Khan says, "doing the wrong thing for the right reasons".

The Khan goes to a lot of trouble to emphasise that killing is ALWAYS wrong, but that sometimes you just have to to a wrong thing to avoid many other bigger wrongs.

Samarin never goes so far as to say the things he's done are wrong, but he does (with Anna) ponder the rightness or necessity of killing one person as part of a greater cause.

As for the skopsty, I can relate them to Antoine more than anything. They've given up a lot of the pleasure of life because of a belief that it is useless and even damaging or evil. Just like Antoine gave up the joys of life because he believed it was all pointless. They both strike me as narrow-minded and annoyingly holier-than-thou.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Feb 26, 2007 9:32 am

Very good answers all around! I was busy yesterday with family activities and then the Oscars so didn't get back to ONBC until this morning. I think the comparisons you all have already made are excellent ones. Like suec I thought of the writing in Perfume and the characters of Khader and Antoine.
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Unread postby Linda Lee » Mon Feb 26, 2007 3:09 pm

Unfortunately, I have only read Happy Days and TPAOL, so I don't have a lot to draw from.

I do think that Antoine and the Skoptsy both observed the lives of others rather than live their own. Antoine to find the value in life the Skoptsy to assure themselves that their sacrifice gave them moral superiority. Perhaps they were afraid of life.

I don't know if the book Chocolat and the movie are the same, but in the movie I would say the Count and the Skoptsy have the "holier than thou attitude".
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Unread postby Endora » Mon Feb 26, 2007 3:43 pm

As you know, I kept seeing parallels in Dead Man(I know not a book as such, but you get the idea I'm sure.)

I hadn't thought about Khan in Shantaram (how I long to re-read that!) but Suec, what a good point.
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Unread postby dharma_bum » Tue Feb 27, 2007 1:12 am

I saw the parallels between Kader Khan and Samarin as well. KK manipulated people in ways very similar to Samarin. He exploited emotional longings and fears of abandonment in both Lin and Karla to gain their devotion, then betrayed them and got them to betray one another—very similar to how Samarin wedged himself between Mutz and Anna. KK’s grand design of the universe broke down in the realities of tribal warfare, just as Samarin’s utopian visions couldn’t survive sacrificing an innocent child.
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