Suttree Timeline Problem

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  • 05 Jun 2015 at 7:39 pm #7206

    efscerbo
    Member

    Hey all,

    Sorry for starting this thread and then disappearing for a few weeks. Trying to finish out this semester was nearly the death of me and then I was traveling a bit. Writing up that stuff on The Counselor also ate up a bunch of my time.

    Anyway, I’ve resolved this point to my satisfaction: I’m quite certain now that it’s simply a mistake (perhaps intentional, though) on McCarthy’s part. It seems to me there is no doubt that Chapters 2 and 3 take place in 1950 and Chapters 1 and 4 are set in 1951. Moreover, pace Rick, I’m convinced Chapter 4 is supposed to follow hard on Chapter 1.

    The main reasons for this are the reasons I listed in my first post together with the fact that when Suttree meets Michael the Indian, we’re explicitly told it’s June 9, 1952 (220). And at the end of that chapter, Michael asks Sut “How long you been on the river?”, to which Suttree responds “This is my second year.” (240)

    Aside from the whole “Dec. 26, 1950 was not a Sunday” thing, these are all internally consistent: When Uncle John comes to visit Suttree in Chapter 1, Suttree’s already on the river, and he says he just got out of the workhouse in January (15). In Chapter 4, we’re told it is 1951 (66). And when Suttree meets Michael, it’s 1952, and it is his “second year” on the river.

    Furthermore, Harrogate’s sentence is 11 months, 29 days (42). The melonmounting occurs in August (31), and he enters the workhouse in October (45). The time in between he spends in the hospital after getting shot, and it seems it’s considered time served, because he gets out before September (144). The only other thing that doesn’t really fit, as Rick mentioned, is why Harrogate doesn’t get more time added to his sentence for trying to run off. However, we do see him back in the workhouse “with a pick on his leg.” (62) Now, I’m not terribly sure what this “pick” is (anyone?), but given the way it’s described on Byrd Slusser (51-53, 60), it’s clearly something designed to impede movement and possibly can cause a fair bit of pain. So maybe the only additional punishment given Harrogate is the pick? Could be. Also, just before Harrogate gets released, we’re told it’s “late summer” (75), and on the previous page Callahan says Harrogate’s supposed to be getting out of prison any day now.

    As for why I think Chapter 4 is the day after Chapter 1: In Chapter 1 it’s Sunday: “Black families in bright Sunday clothes fishing at the river’s brim watched somberly his passage.” (12-13) And in Chapter 4 it’s Monday: “Market Street on Monday morning, Knoxville Tennessee.” (66) Suttree drinks with J-Bone et al. at Jimmy Smith’s in Chapter 1 and J-Bone’s still drunk in Chapter 4, which amazes/amuses Suttree:

    “Suttree looked from one to the other of them. They were all drunk.
    You sons of bitches havent been to bed.
    Early Times, called out J-Bone.” (70)

    Even the repetition of J-Bone’s refrain “Early Times” from Chapter 1, which recurs nowhere else in the book, marks this as a continuation of the previous night. Finally, Suttree catches fish in Chapter 1 and leaves them in his skiff: “Through the thin and riven wall sounds of fish surging in the sinking skiff.” (14) And the fish are still in the skiff in Chapter 4 when he wakes up (63).

    Anyway, just thought I’d pass along what I pulled together.

    Ed


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    05 Jun 2015 at 8:04 pm #7208

    efscerbo
    Member

    Wes,

    I Googled for that paper of yours, the “Things Misplaced in Time” one, but got nothing. Do you have a copy you could send me? Or could you tell me where I could find it?

    ______________________________________

    Ken,

    I’m happy to receive that title, so thanks. You should ask my fiancee what she thinks of my McCarthy obsession/compulsion. How she hasn’t run for the hills by now is a testament to what kind of woman she is. Also, would you care to speculate on why you think the title of TOK comes from The Odyssey? That’s the translation of The Odyssey I’m familiar with, but I don’t see much in the way of a connection there except for the quote itself. Maybe you could enlighten me?

    ______________________________________

    Bob and Lee,

    I ain’t worrying about it either, so long as it’s not meaningful. When I first noticed it I thought it may have been, but now I’m pretty comfortable that it’s not. But I’m used to McCarthy being a total pedant when it comes to details, so I thought it deserved note.

    Ed


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    05 Jun 2015 at 8:06 pm #7209

    efscerbo
    Member

    Oh, and I’ll second Ken in saying I’d love to see Wes’s expertise on Suttree and Knoxville in published form someday.

    Just some fuel for the fire, Wes 😉

    Ed


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    06 Jun 2015 at 6:23 am #7210

    Glass
    Member

    The “leg pick.” So interesting. A bit of a Cool Hand Luke resonance perhaps with the leg restraint. McCarthy, being McCarthy, always comes up with cool (and dark and disturbing) stuff. Some info here, plus a picture in the comments: http://www.network54.com/Forum/261154/thread/1176335128/last-1176824544/Leg+Pick


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    06 Jun 2015 at 11:58 am #7215

    wesmorgan
    Participant

    Ed,

    If you will send me an email request at wmorgan(at)utk(dot)edu for “Things Misplaced in Time: A Sampling of Anachronistic People, Places and Events in Suttree,” I will happily send you a copy by return email. Although the paper does refer to a “sampling,” I was not aware at the time of writing the paper how pervasive anachronisms actually were. I have since given up trying to keep track of them all. Wes


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    06 Jun 2015 at 4:26 pm #7217

    Glass
    Member

    Sorry if this is OT, but I was wondering if there is any chance that Harrogate wearing the leg pick is an allusion to the baby Oedipus whose ankles were “riveted” until the shepherd set him free? More McCarthy leg stuff, at any rate.


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