The Casual Vacancy Book Club Part 3: Everybody's Got Problems
Welcome to part three of CasVac Book Club. Wake up and smell the teen angst!
Today in the chapter called "Tuesday" we get two views of the public housing projects known as The Fields. The first one comes from social worker Kay Bawden, who picks up the Weedon case work from a colleague who is not interesting enough to make it into the book. She visits the home of Terri, Krystal, and Robbie Weedon, which can generously be described as a "dilapidated drug slum." Overflowing trash belches from every doorway, the aromas of drugs and poo fight for nostril domination, and heavy cardboard boxes stand strategically around the living room just high enough to collapse and give an adventurous toddler permanent brian damage. But hey, it beats living under a staircase! Maybe?
It's real easy to feel sorry for 3-year-old Robbie Weedon, who should probably be in day care instead of yelling at cereal boxes and dragging around a week-old diaper filled with dung and hypodermic needles. But I don't know how to feel about negligent mother, Terri Weedon. Sure, Terri's an addict and a potential danger to her family, but more importantly she's a living, (occasionally) breathing argument for the Rehabilitation Clinic that Barry Fairbrother was fighting for. I'm mad at her…but I also sympathize, and feel sorry for her. Poor Terri is doped into oblivion, and the rock bottom is quickly rushing up at her and her family. But what can she do, really? As Kay muses at the end of her chapter, Terri is so deeply medicated that "right now…she's happier than I am." It's kind of exasperating how little Kay is allowed to resolve in her brief visit.
Our second view of The Fields comes from Stuart "Fats" Wall, who meanders over to the projects as a means of skipping class and pissing off his dad, the vice-headmaster. To Fats, The Fields represent a kind of grungy, rebellious romance that helps him escape from the mundane problems of his father and friends. Legends of Fields kids getting into epic brawls with other Fields kids invigorate Fats' blood like the last hundred pages of Deathly Hallows. Krystal Weedon, with whom Fats has an engagement to snog on Friday, is the peak of uninhibited authenticity in his mind, and the opposite of how he sees his phoney-baloney father, Cubby.
Ah, angst! How I have missed thee.
Both views of the Fields show us a society full of problems. Some are more drastic than others, but every character we've met in Pagford so far has some very real, very human hang-ups that they're trying to work through. Most of the time in Harry Potter we only get the limited view from Harry's mind. But I think J.K. is doing a bang-up job telling a tale of woe from a vast ensemble cast. Even if some characters have more reason to complain than others, their fears and desires all feel real. Do you agree? Or are there some characters so far who you just can't sympathize with? A few chapters in, do you have any favorites yet?
To answer your question, Justme:), the hardback book ends on page 503. Tomorrow we'll talk about "Wednesday" (up to page 140 in the hardback), and then we'll all cry together and eat ice cream. Happy reading, happy angst-ing!