Friday, January 24, 2020

Social Order in P.D. James’ A Mind To Murder Essay -- P.D. James A Min

P.D. James’ A Mind To Murder - Social Order    One of the basic assumptions underlying any detective novel is a sense of social order. The novelist assumes that the reader agrees that killing people is wrong; it does not matter if the victims are exemplary citizens or odious individuals, it is the mere act of snuffing out another’s life that is against the social order. In P.D. James’ A Mind To Murder, Nurse Marion Bolam’s murder of her stuffy and self-righteous cousin Enid illustrates a situation where the nurse and her invalid mother had suffered from her cousin’s stinginess; James gives us a clear look at the murderer’s fear that if Enid had been given time to change her will as she had threatened to do, the Marion and her mother would never get the money to which they considered themselves entitled. However, James urges us to understand, this does not matter. Murder, for whatever reason it is committed, is still murder, and it is always wrong.     However, the murder of Enid Bolam is not the only violation of the social order which James describes in this book. Chief amongst his other villains is Peter Nagle, the young and attractive porter at the Steen Clinic. Peter is also a gifted painter, and is only working at the clinic to pay his living expenses while he waits for a prestigious arts grant to come his way.   However, Peter is infected with the arrogance of those who feel that their talent entitles them to liberties unavailable to the rest of society. He lives in a magnificent studio apartment, and owns only the very best painting equipment. He obviously cannot afford this on a clinic-porter’s salary, so he figures out a way to, with Marion Bolam’s help, blackmail former patients into paying him fifteen pounds... ...r, who wasn’t really at fault in any of this, has gone to live in a nursing home where she will be well-cared for, since her daughter obviously won’t be there to do it.        This isn’t a perfect solution, but it isn’t a   perfect   world, and it would be false to P.D. James’ premises to assume that everything can be returned to a state of Eden. However, James seems to feel that we as social beings have an obligation to keep everything as close to an ideal social paradigm as possible. Only in this way will everyone be in a position to achieve maximum happiness. The narcissism of Peter Nagle serves as a sober warning that we are not put on earth to ride roughshod over everyone else in our selfish search for happiness, but that happiness is a social construct in which everyone should reap equal benefit and for which everyone should assume equal responsibility.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.