Finally had time this morning to catch up with the Parade’s End read-along and finished Part 1 of Book 1 in Some Do Not… I’m posting some thoughts about Part 1 before plunging ahead into Part 2, which switches to Sylvia’s POV.
My previous post was about women in the book. I appreciated nonmodernist’s comments about it and especially her amazing thesis topic! I am also fascinated by the book’s treatment of masculinity, especially Tietjens’ internal monologue and his relationships with Macmaster and other male characters. One of my favorite early quotes in Part 1:
…the basis of Christopher Tietjens’ emotional existence was a complete taciturnity — at any rate as to his emotions. As Tietjens saw the world, you didn’t ‘talk.’ Perhaps you didn’t even think about how you felt.
Later, Ford writes that “Macmaster…knew next to nothing of his friend’s feelings,” and Macmaster appears equally thrown off by Tietjens’ “clumsy tenderness” towards his son and his emotional confession that he’s not sure that the baby is his. Archetypal masculinity — no emotions, no communication with male friends about interior life, mathematical, precise, concerned with work and social status.
It’s very interesting to see this masculinity challenged by Valentine, Sylvia and the historical context of the suffragette movement. I enjoyed Part VII, where Tietjens and Valentine are driving together, talking, and arguing; b-l-a-n-k-a wrote a lovely post about it. Valentine appears to be disrupting both Tietjens’ emotional reserve and his traditional views of masculinity and femininity:
He had not known this young woman twenty-four hours…and already the convention existed between them that he must play stiff and cold, she warm and clinging… Yet she was obviously as cool a hand as himself; cooler no doubt, for at bottom he was certainly a sentimentalist.
A convention of the most imbecile type … Then break all conventions: with the young woman: with himself above all.
Obviously I think about gender way too much, but the tension that most interests me in this story is Tietjens’ old-guard masculinity crumbling in the face of Valentine and Sylvia’s refusal to conform to traditional feminine roles. I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out.
“Perhaps the future of the world then was to women? Why not?”