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The Day of the Scorpion
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HISTORY OF SOUTHERN ASIA > WEEK NINE ~ THE DAY OF THE SCORPION ~ August 11th - August 17th > BOOK TWO - PART ONE - The Situation (296 - 320) No Spoilers

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message 1: by Jill (last edited Jul 25, 2014 07:01PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Hello Everyone,

For the weeks of August 11th - August 17th, we are reading PART TWO ~ A Christening (296-320.) No spoilers.

The ninth week's reading assignment is:

WEEK NINE- August 11th - August 17th
PART TWO - A Christening (296 - 320)

We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers. We will also open up supplemental threads as we did for other spotlighted books.

This book is being kicked off on June 16th.

We look forward to your participation. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library, local bookstore or on your Kindle. Make sure to pre-order now if you haven't already. This weekly thread will be opened up on August 11th.

There is no rush and we are thrilled to have you join us. It is never too late to get started and/or to post.

Jill will be leading this discussion and back-up will be Bentley.




The Day of the Scorpion (The Raj Quartet, #2) by Paul Scott by Paul Scott Paul Scott



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Table of Contents and Syllabus


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Book as a Whole and Final Thoughts - SPOILER THREAD

The Day of the Scorpion (The Raj Quartet, #2) by Paul Scott by Paul Scott Paul Scott

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) We do not have to do citations regarding the book or the author being discussed during the book discussion on these discussion threads - nor do we have to cite any personage in the book being discussed while on the discussion threads related to this book.

However if we discuss folks outside the scope of the book or another book is cited which is not the book and author discussed then we do have to do that citation according to our citation rules. That makes it easier to not disrupt the discussion.

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) NOTE

For those of you who are reading this book on e-books or whose edition has different numbering than that used by the moderator, the last page of this week's assignment ends with the sentence, "It is safe now," Rowan said.

message 4: by Jill (last edited Aug 09, 2014 07:40PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Chapter Summary and Overview

The interrogation continues as Hari tells Rowan that he was tied naked across a trestle and caned even though the doctor's report did not note any marks of caning. Hari explains that he had on his drawers when he was bathed. When the caning stopped, Merrick would speak to Hari and told him that Daphne accused him of being one of the rapists but that he knew differently. Merrick said that he knew the truth and that if Hari agreed with him, the caning would stop. He posits that Daphne obviously egged Hari and the other boys on and that she got more than she bargained for. She was trying to have them punished for something that they had only been technically guilty of.

Hari then says that the caning continued and Merrick asks him if he is enjoying it while he puts his hand between Hari's legs. Rowan sends the clerk from the room so that no mention of this allegation can be recorded. Rowan accuses Hari of lying but he denies it. Hari says he misunderstood the reason for the interrogation and believed that Daphne had finally managed to persuade someone that Hari had done nothing.

Hari asks Rowan if something has happened to Daphne and they tell him that she died a year ago of peritonitis during a Caesarean section. Hari thinks she was married but they tell him that she never married. Lady Manners sees Hari cry for Daphne and she has a strong compulsion to touch him as she also cries for both Daphne and Hari.

More of Daphne's journal is revealed as she writes of Hari carrying her out of Bibighar Gardens after the real assault and why she told him not to carry her any further and to remain silent. He keeps faith with her.

Hari states that the alleged rape and assault were only side issues to Merrick and that he was really interested in the relationship between Hari and Daphne. Merrick revels in the fact that he is a Sahib in India where he would have been a nobody in England, and that it all came down to the contempt that the British had for the Indians. Merrick throws Hari in a cell and after some time passes, he offers him water and then demands that Hari say "thank you". Merrick tells Hari that he should confess and that he will help by saying that the girl lied. Hari realizes, after much thought, that Merrick is a liar and that no one had the right to destroy him. So he did not answer their questions the next day. Merrick admits that Daphne did not accuse him but that he knows that Hari and Daphne had sex and invites Hari to hit him. Hari does not comply.

The interrogation by Rowan and Gopal ends and Rowan returns to Lady Manners. They leave the prison and Lady Manners tells Rowan that Hari was telling the truth and Rowan agrees. He tells her that Hari will be released and Lady Manners counters with "....nothing can happen to Mr. Merrick" since it is the uncorroborated testimony of a prisoner and it was all a charade.

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Question

Do you think that Rowan and Gopal are at cross-purposes in the interrogation and if so, why?

message 6: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 28 comments If you mean are Rowan and Gopal set up as "good guy-bad guy" cops, then I don't see that. To me, Rowan represents the enlightened Englishman in India at the time and Gopal is a stereotype of those serving the Raj society: don't rock the boat. Rowan sees that Merrick is held in favor by the Raj community and Hari is the outsider. Although Nigel sympathizes with Hari, he has to watch his steps if he wants to maintain any credibility with those in power.

message 7: by Hana (last edited Aug 11, 2014 11:28AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hana Jill wrote: "Question

Do you think that Rowan and Gopal are at cross-purposes in the interrogation and if so, why?"

I definitely got that impression. Just before this section starts, Lady Manners senses that 'Gopal disliked Kumar for the type of Indian Kumar was', in other words that Hari was so British that he no longer seemed Indian. But Lady Manners also realized that while 'It was the white man in Kumar that he enjoyed attacking...' Gopal's true objective 'was the revelation of the full outrage and unjust pressure Kumar the Indian had suffered.'

Rowan, in contrast, seems to be acting at the behest of Lady Manners to do his best to get Hari out--the shocking revelations in this section are likely to prove a distraction that could make the government less amenable to granting a release.

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) I am somewhat torn as to exactly what position the interrogators find themselves in......since Hari was jailed on the Defence of the Realm act for subversion, the alleged rape is a side issue. But it has become the major topic, as well as Hari's relationship with Daphne and Gopal has turned the questions in that direction. Is he indirectly attempting to reveal Merrick's actions without accusing him outright? Gopal is a wise interrogator and is allowing Hari to take the lead in that issue based on his well thought out questions.

We are seeing the real Merrick at last and he truly is psychopathic, as Martin noted earlier.

message 9: by Hana (last edited Aug 11, 2014 02:37PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hana I suspect the Merrick diagnosis as a psychopath is a bit off the mark, unless there are a lot of additional things that happen in later books of which I'm unaware. I think that Scott's portrait of Merrick is much more nuanced and (at least as of the current chapter) more closely fits the patterns shown by batterers and other spouse-abusers (as well as some police and prison guards who go bad). The partner violence angle is particularly relevant here since Merrick seems to have felt both a certain attraction to Kumar and a degree of class rejection. The intimacy-rejection cycle is telling.

Here is a link to a fairly readable scholarly review of the subject and I've pulled out a couple of hopefully useful quotes: [Highlights mine]

"Dutton (1995) reviewed empirical studies that examined psychological attributes of the batterer. He suggests that this group clearly has needs for interpersonal control and often poor verbal skills. The batterers’ anger and humiliation emerge when his partner seems to be either disrespecting or abandoning him. Dutton described a “borderline personality organization” as a frequent characteristic of those individuals who were violent only in the domestic setting. He sees this borderline personality organization as a trait that leads to the cyclical nature of domestic violence and the development of an abusive personality in someone who carries chronic anger. He states “exaggerated perceptions of malevolent intent...are common” (p. 119).

"The most respected work on the typology of male batterers is by Holzworth-Munroe and Stuart (1994). [They identified several traits associated with batterers, the better integrated and least overtly criminal] tends to...passive-dependent personality traits. The dysphoric/borderline type tends to be depressed, emotionally distressed, and volatile in their emotional expressions. They often display concomitant substance abuse issues, with the underlying personality structures best characterized as borderline or schizotypal."

message 10: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Thanks for those definitions, Hana. They are very helpful and Merrick fits right into them. I initially thought that psychopath was too strong a word until Martin provided a definition which fit Merrick to a T; so maybe he belongs in both categories. Regardless of what we call him, he has some problems. (And we haven't even touched on sociopath.)

This discussion is based on what we have read about him so far. I started out liking him well enough but quickly changed my mind as certain of his traits began to surface. As we noted last week, he is the Raj personified with a nasty twist!

message 11: by Hana (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hana All of these psychological 'definitions' are very iffy in real life--it's more like a sliding scale, a spectrum, with people affected with a certain mind-set moving up and down the scale as things in their life change.

message 12: by Jill (last edited Aug 11, 2014 04:16PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Hana wrote: "All of these psychological 'definitions' are very iffy in real life--it's more like a sliding scale, a spectrum, with people affected with a certain mind-set moving up and down the scale as things ..."

You are correct, Hana. It is not easy to categorize a person in real life, let alone a fictional one but I think we were trying to decide exactly what was behind some of Merrick's behavior so we were playing psychiatrist a bit!

Donna (drspoon) Lots of definitions and variations thereof can be found. I think we could at least say that Merrick's behavior during his interrogation with Hari appears psychopathic/sociopathic (these look similar but I think one is born and the other is made) or maybe he is just being a garden variety jerk!

message 14: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) I think I like jerk!!!

Back to the interrogation, I am trying to get into Hari's mind as to why he feels it is happening. The questions have been all over the place.....subversion, the other young men and his involvement with them and finally coming to what I felt might be the heart of the entire session.....Daphne.

Martin Zook | 615 comments I missed the part where Merrick beats his wife. Am I on the wrong page, again?

Martin Zook | 615 comments The interrogation scene in its entirety is a passage that will stay with me for sometime.

To add to what already has been talked about here on the dynamics between the two interrogators. It's like a dance.

I don't think the reader can justly come down on one side or the other on which questioner is for or against Hari. The prisoner is an extra in a larger drama than that affair in the Bibighar Gardens is just a fading recollection.

It seems apparent to me that Rowan has his marching orders from HE, and they probably run something like: Keep a lid on it. Hence Rowan's opening position that the hearing and questioning will follow along a narrowly defined path, which does not include release.

Gopal's motivation is to expand the interrogation. While Hari's Anglican qualities do not make him a particularly good icon for his intnentions, the role he has assigned to himself is that of a defender of India. So, while initially he has a negative reaction to Hari, as the questioning proceeds Gopal sees his opening and runs with it.

At the end of this "charade" as Lady Manners calls it, there is a most important re-cognition...well, actually two:

1) the tranquility of death: as Lady M feels it, a door is opened ("The tranquility she felt was the first tranquility of death. For her the race had ended in the Kandipat in this room with its secret sordid view on to another."

2) the charade of history: "The reality of the actual deed would be a monument to all that had been thought for the best. 'But it isn't the best we should remember,' she said, and shocked herself by speaking aloud, and clutched the folds and mother-of-pearl buttons in that habitual gesture. We must remember the worst because the worst is the lives we lead, the best is only our history, and between our history and our lives there is this vast dark plain where the rapt and patient shepherds drive their invisible flocks in expectation of God's forgiveness."

And this suspension, between the lives we lead and the stories we create to define ourselves is where all of these characters exist.

In the end (assuming I'm on the right page), Rowan knows the outcome of the interrogation: Hari will be released. Merrick has been revealed to HE through the hearing. As HE shepherds his flock in search of God's forgiveness, extending forgiveness to Hari through his release is the only option. It's historical.

"'Isn't it all a charade?'" Lady Manners asks. "'Over now. We go back into our corners and try to guess the word. Hari Kumar will have to guess it too."

One last observation, this revelation through interrogation has occurred in darkness, in a Kafkaesque room with no window, and a second room where the witness sat in dark with blinds closed. At the end, Lady M asks if it's safe to raise the blinds.

Raising of the metaphorical blinds symbolizes the shedding of light on the sordid affair, the historical account of Hari's case focused on his release.

"'It's safe now,'" Rowan assures her.

Donna (drspoon) Nice, Martin. So much going on here, and you have captured the essence of it. The interrogation scene is one that will stay with me, too.

message 18: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) A good synopsis,and very nicely thought out, Martin. I especially like your comment that Rowan was told to "keep the lid on it". He could not control the questions once Gopal took the lead which I thought he did and the atmosphere changed in a subtle way. I also had the same reaction to the raising of the blinds, the darkness of the affair has been lifted. A very revealing scene.

message 19: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Do you think Rowan believed Hari's account of what transpired between him and Merrick?

message 20: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 28 comments I got the feeling Rowan preferred to not be involved, but he was, so in good conscious he had to do something. He realized Hari wouldn't gain much by telling his story to the unsympathetic British ruling class. So it must have been true. Rowan's dilemma was how to deal with the accusations without undermining the those who employed him. Like Martin said above, his orders seem to have been to keep a lid on it.

message 21: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Rowan had his marching orders and followed them as best he could.....but Gopal was not to be deterred and obtained information that would not have come to light if Rowan did the interview without Gopal. Since Hari was telling the truth in my opinion, we now have some insight into the Babighar Gardens incident and what followed. Merrick is also shown for what he is and that his interaction with Hari was very personal. Or did all British police mistreat Indians so badly?

message 22: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 28 comments I think Merrick's treatment of Hari was personal in the sense that Hari had everything that he wanted. But I think Merrick would never allow himself to consider an Indian as an equal worthy of any emotion. Having been "stepped on" in England, he needed a class of people to grind his heel into.

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