[ilds] deserving of being called a "hero" or spokesman

Charles Sligh Charles-Sligh at utc.edu
Thu Jun 3 13:38:43 PDT 2010

> The fact that Darley begins and ends four novels, that he is a 
> developing artist, that he suffers and endures, that he is the main 
> character through which events unfold or get reported, that he gets 
> his just deserts, that he surely ends up with the beautiful girl, that 
> he is the person who finally has "the whole universe" give him a 
> "nudge" — all that indicates to me that he has a close and special 
> relationship with his author and is deserving of being called a "hero" 
> or spokesman, for all his faults and however qualified you want to 
> define those terms.

I think that Darley is a favorite spokesman and hero for first time and 
inexperienced readers of the /Quartet/. With time and vantage, Darley 
becomes incredibly tiring, and the books undermine him in a devastating 
sort of way.

My first response would be to ask, "If we must look to literature for 
'morals'--enough character development is found in /Pilgrim's Progress/ 
and /Robinson Crusoe/ to satisfy such appetites--and 'authors with 
messages'--/caveat lector/, setting aside Durrellian skepticism!--why 
would in the world would we patently overlook Pursewarden?"

My second, more measured and patient response would be to chide myself, 
"Yes. Of course. The /Quartet/ occurs in the reader's time more than any 
other 'time.' The reader must have a Darley phase so that he or she 
might have a Pursewarden phase. Both phases matter. The only character 
development, in the end, is the development of the reader's character."


Charles L. Sligh
Assistant Professor
Department of English
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
charles-sligh at utc.edu

More information about the ILDS mailing list