ATD Question #2 - $8

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ATD Question #2 - $8

Unread postby Liz » Tue Nov 13, 2007 10:55 am

Pg. 24-26.

“Hello, honey. Wanna have a good time?”……”But I want to talk to you first.”……”That reminds me. What time is it?”…..I’ll see you again. You keep the eight dollars and buy yourself something nice.

What do you make of this incident with the prostitute? His response? Hers? The final outcome? Why does she have such a hard time with the idea of just talking to him?


LIZ NOTE: I hope I've typed enough of the section. If someone can't remember the incident and doesn't have her book, let me know here and I'll either summarize or type more out.
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Unread postby Betty Sue » Tue Nov 13, 2007 12:04 pm

This certainly was a different take than one would expect on a young man/prostitute encounter! :eyebrow: But Arturo had just left church where he had done some serious bargaining with God; if He would make him a great writer and make his mother happy, he would return to the Church. Plunging right into degradation would rather sully that promise. Also, the surroundings were so extremely seamy,"the halls smelling of cockroaches." He was working on getting a more exalted feeling about himself, picturing himself getting the Nobel Award, so this sort of thing didn't exactly fit that image. He tried to think of it as just getting background for a novel....just wasn't in the mood for a prostitute, really.
She, on the other hand, wasn't used to being a conversationalist, wanted to get down to what she did best. I think he overpaid her--a whopping eight dollars!--because he felt guilty for not using her services and, also, to show he was quite the successful guy.
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Unread postby Parlez » Tue Nov 13, 2007 1:32 pm

Yes, I agree with your assessment, Betty Sue. And this won't be the last time we see Arturo having a little trouble in the sex department ~ a little conflicted there me thinks! In this case, he seems more interested in proving his success in other areas...but with a prostitute? I guess he figures her low class status is even lower than his own. Hence the 'generous' gesture with the money.
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Unread postby Liz » Tue Nov 13, 2007 1:41 pm

Yes, Betty Sue, there was a bit of ego involved and saving face in upping the figure and then having a very important engagement for which he was late.

Parlez, I don’t know if it’s possible to avoid the topic while discussing the question, but if we can, we will be dealing with Arturo’s sexual issues in another question.
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Unread postby fansmom » Tue Nov 13, 2007 1:50 pm

The scene is so reminiscent of Catcher in the Rye that it gave me deja vu, even though ATD was written about ten years before Catcher.
(Recap of Catcher prostitute scene: Holden Caulfield arranges with a hotel elevator operator to have a prostitute sent to his hotel room. When she arrives, he wants to get to know her, but she wants to get down to business and takes off her dress. Holden is struck by the sordidness of the situation, and is very conflicted. He gives her $5 and sends her away.)

So I don't know what to think. Is this scene archetypal? It happens so often to adolescent males that every second man on the street has had an encounter like this? (Or at least they did in the 1930's and 40's.) Do I need to write an essay on conflict and sexuality in early 20th century coming-of-age novels?

So, unlike Betty Sue, I wasn't surprised at Arturo's reaction to the prostitute. His two decades of religious background would have told him that being with a prostitute was wrong. In Wait Until Spring, we read how conflicted he was over his mother's sexuality, and we saw the dramatic results of his father's adultery. Sex, especially sex outside of a relationship, would have to be a problem for him.

Her reaction? I've read that prostitutes distance themselves from both their patrons and their own bodies. Some save kissing from their lovers, because kissing can be more intimate than intercourse. Talking to a client would increase intimacy and thus would be something to be avoided.

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Unread postby Liz » Tue Nov 13, 2007 3:55 pm

Good point, Fansmom. I can totally see that point of view on intimacy. I also felt déjà vu when I read this section. But I never read Catcher in the Rye. I don’t know where I read or saw such a scene (I’m thinking maybe in a movie). So it does seem quite common.
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Unread postby nebraska » Tue Nov 13, 2007 4:55 pm

My initial reaction when I read this was that he thought he was "up" to the challenge, as it were, and then had that problem we will discuss later..in fact, I wrote the problem in big letters at the start of the chapter.....but going back and reading those pages now, there does seem to be a real strong distaste for the surroundings -- the dust and the smell and the bugs and all of that, and a promise to get back to the well-lit cleanliness of church if only he could escape this situation. I am not sure whether that was a veil for the other problem, or whether he was genuinely repulsed by the surroundings.

On page 26 I have underlined "But you're cleaner than me because you've got no mind to sell, just that poor flesh." That sentence really stood out for me, although I am not sure what he meant. Maybe it was a need to feel he was above her level, that he was special because he was a writer -- and Italian. He made some very racist remarks in these pages.

Arturo flip flops constantly between seeing himself as Bandini the Magnificent and just plain Arturo a worthless loser. It is almost as though in this scene he acts out that thought pattern, first being the macho customer, then the squeamish patron desperate for a way out, and then looking at her and feeling superior and giving her the cash because it made him look important (and erased whatever guilt/embarrassment he felt).

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Unread postby Liz » Tue Nov 13, 2007 5:49 pm

nebraska wrote:On page 26 I have underlined "But you're cleaner than me because you've got no mind to sell, just that poor flesh." That sentence really stood out for me, although I am not sure what he meant. Maybe it was a need to feel he was above her level, that he was special because he was a writer -- and Italian.


Good question. I don’t really know how that means she is cleaner. But I do know that says that he feels superior because she is not as intelligent as he is. Interesting how he thinks money can make up for his actions and erase his guilt. I think the way he treats her is despicable, how he talks down to her, “How are conditions these days?” “How did you ever get into this racket?” Who would want to answer those questions? Or maybe he is just young and naive. :rolleyes:
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Unread postby Parlez » Tue Nov 13, 2007 6:35 pm

Liz wrote:
nebraska wrote:On page 26 I have underlined "But you're cleaner than me because you've got no mind to sell, just that poor flesh." That sentence really stood out for me, although I am not sure what he meant. Maybe it was a need to feel he was above her level, that he was special because he was a writer -- and Italian.


Good question. I don’t really know how that means she is cleaner. But I do know that says that he feels superior because she is not as intelligent as he is. Interesting how he thinks money can make up for his actions and erase his guilt. I think the way he treats her is despicable, how he talks down to her, “How are conditions these days?” “How did you ever get into this racket?” Who would want to answer those questions? Or maybe he is just young and naive. :rolleyes:

Or maybe he was already seeing himself as a whore with regards to the publishing world ~ selling his 'mind' in the form or manuscripts for the going rate and being willing to give in to the demands of publishers. (?)
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Unread postby nebraska » Tue Nov 13, 2007 8:00 pm

Liz wrote:
nebraska wrote:On page 26 I have underlined "But you're cleaner than me because you've got no mind to sell, just that poor flesh." That sentence really stood out for me, although I am not sure what he meant. Maybe it was a need to feel he was above her level, that he was special because he was a writer -- and Italian.


Good question. I don’t really know how that means she is cleaner. But I do know that says that he feels superior because she is not as intelligent as he is. Interesting how he thinks money can make up for his actions and erase his guilt. I think the way he treats her is despicable, how he talks down to her, “How are conditions these days?” “How did you ever get into this racket?” Who would want to answer those questions? Or maybe he is just young and naive. :rolleyes:


Or he might have been being sarcastic and condescending.......

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Re: ATD Question #2 - $8

Unread postby Linda Lee » Tue Nov 13, 2007 9:19 pm

Arturo got himself into a situation that made him very uncomfortable because of his fantasies - about writing a book on his experiences of this night and winning a Nobel Award. He felt he needed to experience "life" and lose his virginity but this way was contrary to the teachings of the Church. While he is rebelling he still has trouble overcoming that obstacle. He just wants to get out of the situation, he feels guilty about gettting into in the first place. He wants to save face that's why he keeps giving her money and finally comes up with the excuse.

The prostitute saw him as a customer, she was not interested in getting to know him. She wanted to "get down to business", so she could get back out there for the next customer. I agree with fansmom, to her talking was more intimate than sex.

When he says she is cleaner because she doesn't have a mind to sell, it may be because she will not talk. Another possibility is he doesn't think she is capable of understanding the conditions necessary to commit mortal sin, which means you can't commit the sin.
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Re: ATD Question #2 - $8

Unread postby fansmom » Tue Nov 13, 2007 9:45 pm

Linda Lee wrote: Another possibility is he doesn't think she is capable of understanding the conditions necessary to commit mortal sin, which means you can't commit the sin.
Oooh, that's good. I like that explanation.

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Unread postby Parlez » Tue Nov 13, 2007 9:53 pm

Wow! That's a remarkable way to insult someone ~ calling them mindless and therefore pure!
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Unread postby gemini » Tue Nov 13, 2007 10:14 pm

I took this part a little different, I think he just was too young, nervous, inexperienced or whatever and didn't quite know how to go about what he went for. I didn't see his religion stopping him even though he does contradict himself a lot.
I am sorry God, I am an atheist now but have you read Neitsche?
And then a deal,
if you make me a good writer I'll go back to church.
He is talking and making deals with God because he believes but at the same time says he doesn't.
This is the same immature Arturo we got to know in Bandini. He rationalizes everything and doesn't hold himself accountable. He wants to impress the hooker that he is a man but he is still afraid of her. He looses her and then goes back to find her.
He is torn between convincing himself that he has to live and experience life to write about it and being young and afraid.
Hail Mary full of grace, I cant go through with this .
He still wants to look like a big man.
Money is no object, keep that eight bucks and buy yourself something nice.
Then
I see you, I'm coming, you clean air-- Eight dollars pouring out of my eyes, Oh Jesus kill me dead .................eight dollars, eight dollars....
He is scared to death and making a run for the door and thinking what an idiot he is for giving her eight dollars because he was scared to death of her.
So much for the suave experienced writer he is trying to be.
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Re: ATD Question #2 - $8

Unread postby Liz » Tue Nov 13, 2007 10:32 pm

I like the way you broke it down, there, Gemini.

fansmom wrote:
Linda Lee wrote: Another possibility is he doesn't think she is capable of understanding the conditions necessary to commit mortal sin, which means you can't commit the sin.
Oooh, that's good. I like that explanation.

I find this an interesting way to look at it also because I believe that to be true…..that if you are unaware that something is wrong, then it is not because the intent is not there. However, I find it hard to believe that she was that naïve. On the other hand, I can believe that Arturo might have convinced himself of that.
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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