From p.174 to p. 192 ("...bold talk for a one-eyed fat man!")
September 13, 2020 by Ed Park
Rooster and Ned parley. An onslaught of exclamation points. “Too thin, Rooster! Too thin! I won’t trust you!” This is the first exchange of words we hear—electrifying, knowing they have a long history together.
“I am Mattie Ross of near Dardanelle, Arkansas. My family has property and I don’t know why I am being treated like this.” Awkward overture.
The grotesque Harold Permalee, making turkey noises; his brother mocks Chaney. Mattie gives us the whole Permalee rundown “A family of criminal trash!”
In the outlaw camp, Mattie holds her own; a sense that Lucky Ned Pepper respects her more than he does Chaney. Brandishing her Daggett connection, to no avail: “I have a good lawyer at home.”
“This will amuse you.” Tone of Lucky Ned Pepper’s account of the death of Billy, not much older than Mattie, is at odds with the boy’s sacrifice. “I don’t say he wan’t [sic] game, I say he was green.”
Brings up “your good friend Rooster.” M. replies, “He is not my friend,” seeing the fix she’s in. She blames his drunkenness for leading them straight to the bandits—and for misloading her gun. (I had forgotten about that.)
Ned abandoning the wounded Chaney (and Mattie). “Everything is against me.” As we witness him being screwed over, it’s hard not to feel some sympathy. No one will meet him at “the Old Place.”
I’m struck this time around at what a richly drawn character Lucky Ned Pepper is. He’s fully imagined—the book’s fourth major character, after Mattie, Rooster, and LaBoeuf. (Arguably on par with LaBoeuf.)
Pen and ink are nowhere to be found, so they make their own. I love when novels smuggle in how-to scenes. (Reminds me of Pa making bullets in Little House in the Big Woods.)
Ned writing his name “in childish characters.” “That is my name. Is it not?” You can hear Mattie’s contempt and pity: “Yes, that is Ned.”
Alone with Chaney. LaBoeuf to the rescue: “Hands up, Chelmsford!” Rooster’s dramatic entrance below… (Cliffhanger—till tomorrow.)
From bottom of p.157 ("The man with the black mark...") to p.173 ("...don't be stopping again!")