Sleep Fictions: A Digital Companion

XIII.3 Hudson

In light of Roderick’s pronouncement to Rowland midway through the novel that “I am not a small boy nor an outer barbarian any longer, and, whatever I do, I do with my eyes open,” it seems clear here then that Rowland prefers Roderick’s dead body—his male form—to the complexities that circulated through his living body. Roderick finally becomes Rowland's Endymion--his eternally Sleeping Beauty.

Upon his death, Roderick becomes the figure of stasis, forcing Rowland to assume the freneticism he has avoided throughout the novel. Rowland accepts this transmission of restlessness, evinced by the pleasure the patron experiences in keeping watch over Roderick’s helpless, inanimate corpse. The events of Roderick’s death—suggestive of a fall from a clifftop—are indirectly rendered: The reader learns of it only after Rowland and Singleton discover the artist’s cold body lying at the bottom of a ravine. Eerily similar to his sheep-dog protection of Roderick as he naps in the park, Rowland watches over Roderick’s dead body while Singleton goes for help. During this time, Rowland notices that, “The eyes were those of a dead man, but in short time, when Rowland closed them, the whole face seemed to awake. Roderick’s face . . . looked admirably handsome.” At last, Rowland gains control over Roderick’s vision, which enables him to look “admirably” upon the young man’s masculine representation. This image anticipates the fin-de-siècle scenery that appears in turn-of-the-century literature, such as Selden’s reflections upon seeing the dead Lily Bart at the end of The House of Mirth.

Rowland's embodiment of the Roderick's restlessness is conveyed most clearly in the novel's last lines, as he is now "the most restless of mortals." 

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