Sleep Fictions: A Digital Companion

III.9 Hudson

After Roderick's completion of the Adam and Eve statues, Rowland is stricken by the sculptor's symptomatic exhaustion. With a “somber yawn,” Roderick tells Rowland that his at a loss for inspiration: “Rowland was perplexed. . . . he had seen nothing but the sunshine of genius; he had forgotten that it has its storms.” In this moment, Rowland determines that Roderick is, indeed, deserving of rest. Roderick takes Rowland’s observation--“Why, you‘re tired!” he said. “Of course you‘re tired. You have a right to be!”---as a form of permission, asking in response: "Do you think I have a right to be?’"

When Rowland responds in the affirmative, Roderick concludes: "Well, then, right or wrong, I am tired." The reader soon learns, however, that Rowland’s appreciation for Roderick’s fatigue hinges on his ability to monitor Roderick’s means of attaining restorative sleep. Thus, when Roderick proposes that he separate from Rowland in pursuit of rest, the latter grows increasingly agitated. Roderick confesses to Rowland: “I have a perpetual feeling that you are expecting something of me, that you are measuring my doings by a terrifically high standard. You are watching me. I don’t want to be watched. I want to go my own way; to work when I choose and to loaf when I choose.” Rowland tentatively approves Roderick’s request but, after a month passes, “began to be half anxious and half angry.” In Rowland’s eyes, Roderick is only deserving of restorative rest when it serves as compensation for his labor. Rowland’s control over Roderick’s time is an implicit part of his patronage.

​​​​When Roderick tells Rowland he lacks inspiration, Rowland reflects that “He was in a situation of a man who has been riding a blood horse at an even, elastic gallop, and of a sudden feels him stumble and balk” and insists that Roderick is tired and needs to rest. Rowland’s association of Roderick with a thoroughbred—a “blood-horse”— further emphasizes the notion that Roderick is an object of speculation and investment.

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