Sleep Fictions: A Digital Companion

I.2, II.3 Hudson

Having "sprung from a rigid Puritan stock," Rowland chastises himself for being “an idle useless creature.” He longs to be active and produce work worthy of appreciation--a process he believes will bring him a sense of fulfillment--but he believes himself too talentless to put his desires into action. 

In the next chapter, Rowland tells Mary Garland that he has had "the misfortune to be a rather idle man, and in Europe the burden of idleness is less heavy than here.” Her response is to say: “In that, then, we are better than Europe, . . . Wouldn’t it be better . . . to work to get reconciled to America, than to go to Europe to get reconciled to idleness?” Rowland's response--"that works is hard to find"--puzzles Mary. She retorts: “I look at you with curiosity; you are the first unoccupied man I ever saw.” Mary implies that Rowland fails to embody the traditional masculine role of working and providing for his family.

He tells her that he intends to create a sort of occupation for himself upon his next trip to Europe: "If I'm not a producer, I shall at any rate be an observer.” This final line sets the state for the relationship between kinesis and stasis, where Roderick is the "producer" and Rowland in the more privileged position of "observer."

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