Friday, February 22, 2008

Father Brown Friday- The Flying Stars

Alright, I really have neglected to give this much thought, so 'tis a bit sloppy. Now, as you may have guessed from the title (:, today's reading is The Flying Stars. (Fourth story in The Innocence of Father Brown). And, in case you were wondering about the jump from the first to fourth... we (GilbertGirl, Algernon and I) were thinking that since we were already discussing Flambeau, more in the same line would probably be appropriate. And that the third story, The Queer Feet, (which is about Flambeau) might be interesting to discuss in the light of this, wherein he converts.

That said, discussion. Now do pardon my laziness, but rather then coming up with specific discussion questions, I picked two quotes from the story (and one from another place thanks to Algernon and his dad) to be considered. Please don't hesitate to post your thoughts.

Some contemporary British comic playwright wrote that humorous plays involving mistaken identity or (as is common in Wodehouse) becoming engaged to some one you don't like through delicacy, are only possible when they are about Brits because an American would say before things had gotten very far " Who the heck are you?". (:

What do you call a man who wants to embrace the chimney-sweep?"
"A saint," said Father Brown.
"I think," said Sir Leopold, with a supercilious smile, "that Ruby means a Socialist."
"A radical does not mean a man who lives on radishes," remarked Crook, with some impatience; and a Conservative does not mean a man who preserves jam. Neither, I assure you, does a Socialist mean a man who desires a social evening with the chimney-sweep. A Socialist means a man who wants all the chimneys swept and all the chimney-sweeps paid for it."
"But who won't allow you," put in the priest in a low voice, "to own your own soot."

"I want you to give them back, Flambeau, and I want you to give up this life. There is still youth and honour and humour in you; don't fancy they will last in that trade. Men may keep a sort of level of good, but no man has ever been able to keep on one level of evil. That road goes down and down. The kind man drinks and turns cruel; the frank man kills and lies about it. Many a man I've known started like you to be an honest outlaw, a merry robber of the rich, and ended stamped into slime. Maurice Blum started out as an anarchist of principle, a father of the poor; he ended a greasy spy and tale-bearer that both sides used and despised. Harry Burke started his free money movement sincerely enough; now he's sponging on a half-starved sister for endless brandies and sodas. Lord Amber went into wild society in a sort of chivalry; now he's paying blackmail to the lowest vultures in London. Captain Barillon was the great gentleman-apache before your time; he died in a madhouse, screaming with fear of the "narks" and receivers that had betrayed him and hunted him down. I know the woods look very free behind you, Flambeau; I know that in a flash you could melt into them like a monkey. But some day you will be an old grey monkey, Flambeau. You will sit up in your free forest cold at heart and close to death, and the tree-tops will be very bare."

P.S. I hope that all made sense, I seem to have a talent for run-on sentances at the moment (:


Mamselle Duroc said...

No very intelligent thoughts at the moment. I just had to say:

This is my absolute favourite Father Brown. Flambeau really did surpass himself this time. Wonderful that he converted; wonderful that he had one last fling before he did... and, for the policeman, that 'fling' is quite literal!

That moment where Flambeau returns the jewels has always been such a moving one for me. I'm a huge Flambeau fan (as evidenced by my name, I suppose)... he's one of my favourite fictional characters. I think those glittering jewels falling from the trees in that starlit garden, and the thief silently disappearing into the dark, is such a beautiful expression of his conversion... more expressive than any words of Flambeau's could be. I suppose that's why I love Chesterton so much: his imagery really stirs something in the soul.

Incidentally, we watched an old movie a couple days ago which ties in really well with what Father Brown said about a man not being able to stay at one level of evil. It's called Quicksand, starring Mickey Rooney, Peter Lorre, and Jeanne Cagney, and it's about a young man who 'borrows' twenty dollars and soon finds that he's on the downward slope.

Mapaz said...

This story is probably one of my favorites, although it's hard to say. I think these stories about converts and repentance have some special appeal for me (The Twelve True Fishermen, for example).
"Every revolution, like a repentance, is a return".
That sentence is impressed on my mind.

I can't think of anything new to say, except that I like how Chesterton describes the man, who having sinned, goes down and down that 'road of evil' until a 'fisherman', twitches upon his thread.