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Chapter 10: The Duel August 21, 2007

Posted by Ashleigh in The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton.
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Since there is so much to this chapter, instead of listing specific questions, I simply want to know what you thought of it. What stood out to you? What did or didn’t you like about? Share your thoughts.

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1. Ashleigh - August 22, 2007

In this chapter, as Syme faces his potential death at the hand of the Marquis, there seemed to be a theme of contrasting life and death. For example, on page 93, Chesterton writes:

With the exception of the Marquis, all the men were in sombre and solemn morning-dress, with hats like black chimney-pots; the little Doctor especially, with the addition of his black spectacles, looked like an undertaker in a farce. Syme could not help feeling a comic contrast between his funeral church parade of apparel and the rich and glistening meadow, growing wildflowers everywhere. But indeed, this comic contrast between the yellow blossoms and the black hats was the black business.

Then on page 95, we read:

… he found himself in the presence of the great fact of the fear of death, with it’s coarse and pitiless common sense….

He felt a strange and vivid value in all the earth around him, in the grass under his feet; he felt a love of life in all living things. He could almost fancy that he heard the grass growing; he could almost fancy that even as he stood fresh flowers were springing up and breaking into blossom in the meadow—flowers blood-red and burning gold and blue, fulfilling the whole pagaent of the spring. And whenever his eyes strayed for a flash from the calm, staring, hypnotic eyes of the Marquis, they saw the little tuft of almond tree against the skyline. He had the feeling that if by some miracle he escaped he would be ready to sit forever before that almond tree, desiring nothing else in the world.

For Syme, fear of death brought appreciation of the simple things in life. Spring. Flowers. Almond trees. Sitting and enjoying nature. Perhaps things many of us in the busyness of life forget to enjoy.

The whole idea of being willing to die for what’s right and the fear of evil men, ties into a quote from a fiction book I’m reading. In Jersusalem Interlude author Bodie Thoene writes:

We mortals have a small and troubled view of time….If the wicked could have one glimpse of their eternal time, perhaps they would repent. And if the righteous could have one glimpse of their eternity with God, they would no longer fear what evil men might do to them in this life. (p. 122)

I love this quote. I think it, and one of the themes in The Man Who Was Thursday is that we should strive to do what’s right even when it’s frightening and challenges our personal safety and comfort.

2. Danielle - August 25, 2007

I must have been on to something in my last comment. All the anarchists ARE in the police force after all! Very interesting.

I liked that quote you mentioned on pg. 95 as well, Ashleigh. It caught my attention too. Before that section you quote, once again the text references to dreaming, in describing Symes emotions:

“When the jar of the joined iron ran up Syme’s arm, all the fantastic fears that have been the subject of this story fell from him like dreams from a man waking up in bed . . . . He felt like a man who had dreamed all night of falling over precipices, and had woke up on the morning when he was to be hanged.”

By the way, that series by Bodie Thoene is excellent! I remember tearing through them, they were so exciting.


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