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More on The Little Stranger 'what is really going on' - The Ex-Communicator

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June 29th, 2009

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05:23 pm - More on The Little Stranger 'what is really going on'
I have just read a handful of reviews of The Little Stranger (a few of them are summarised here) and it's noticeable that some of the reviewers seem to have read the story in quite a different way from me.

My belief is that the narrator, Faraday, overtly dull and rationalist, is actually the source of the evil come upon the house. He doesn't passively witness the evil happening to everyone except him - his presence is the common factor behind these events. I think he literally kills the inhabitants of the house. He is the 'little stranger'. My only question is does he know he is doing it? And is he doing it physically or psychically?

But not everyone sees it that way. For example, the Washington Post says 'Faraday calls to mind Patricia Highsmith’s clever psychopath, Tom Ripley' but the Times says 'Faraday is a decent, humane man, concerned for his patients and for the welfare of the Ayres family, but he is a dull dog, so painstaking in his narration as to raise the question of whether Waters has set herself a challenge: to mediate her story through the consciousness of a bore.'

I think the Post have got it right - Faraday is a psychopath, and an unreliable narrator. The only question is - does he know it? Is he literally and physically harming people , and reporting it (to us, the reader) as the work of ghosts, or is his subconscious producing uncanny effects (as a troubled teenager is supposed to produce poltergeists) without his being aware of it?

To my mind this extra level makes this makes the story more interesting, but it is noticeable that most reviewers have not read the story in this way. I think I would like to re-read it, with this in mind from the start.

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[User Picture]
Date:June 29th, 2009 09:47 pm (UTC)
I've just read this, too, and agree with your reading - at the very least, after all, Faraday is killing the Ayreses (and their kind) merely by being an upwardly mobile working-class man. But the final line of the book seals the deal for me: Faraday's deeply confused relationship with the gentry (like the English response itself, it is a curious mix of resentment and nostalgic admiration) is the force stirring up the gremlins. I'm not convinced he physically causes the events, though I like you would be interested to re-read the book with this in mind.
[User Picture]
Date:June 30th, 2009 12:35 am (UTC)
If he is physically producing the effects, it may be in a sort of fugue state. But I can't quite see how it would work logistically.

In the last section she seemed to be setting it up that he would be falsely blamed for the events, because there was a lot of circumstantial evidence against him. But then when he wasn't, so the circumstantial evidence sort of hung there, making you wonder.

But, yes, it was the very last few minutes that convinced me. I'm shuddering now thinking about it.

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