Archive for sarah fincher

Analysis of ‘amontillado’

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2010 by Joshua

Analysis of “amontillado”

Stumbling upon the fourth password in the book, the first thing I notice is that it is another Poe reference.  This password is referencing the piece titled “Cask of Amontillado”, a short (6 page) story of a murderer who was never caught and a victim who was never found.  To understand exactly how this relates to our characters in Skeleton Creek we must go back to the original, or in my case, The Complete Stories by E.A. Poe.

In the “Cask of Amontillado” we have two main characters, Montresor who is also the narrator and the man he takes his revenge upon, Fortunato.  The story takes place during the Carnival, a time of extravagant celebration and gaiety.  Most of the town is inebriated as is Fortunato, heavily intoxicated and stumbling about in the streets.  Montresor lures the drunk Fortunato into a false sense of purpose by telling him that he recently came into possession of a cask (not quite 500 liters) of Amontillado, an exceptional sherry-like dessert wine.  Montresor tells Fortunato that he needs his help determining the quality of the wine in order to be positive he wasn’t cheated in his purchase.  Fortunato agrees to help, and is led down a dark, damp path into the wine cellar of Montresor.

Fortunato must realize that he is in danger and that Montresor has ulterior motives for the trip to the cellar, but he is far too drunk to be of any resistance.  Montresor leads him into a niche in the cellar wall and after chaining him, proceeds to build a wall closing off the niche completely.  Montresor finishes the wall and ends the story by professing that 50 years has passed and [he] the murderer was never caught and Fortunato, his victim, was never found; a confession to the perfect crime.

Obviously there is more to the story, but for a short synopsis, that will do just fine.  There is no use dawdling about, so we might as well jump right in: why this story, and why now?  I believe the placement of this literary reference and the intricacies within “Cask of Amontillado” demands a specific and unique interpretation of our characters within Skeleton Creek.  I have little doubt that within the story of Skeleton Creek, Henry is playing the part of Montresor.  Using Montresor as a piece of colored crepe paper held up to a light bulb, we can see different shades to Henry.  He is a madman, driven by one thing that we do not fully understand, just as we were never to understand why Montresor was obsessed with seeking his revenge.

One of the things that I picked up on was Poe’s use of the word “impunity” twice, which is only strange because the story is so short. Repetition of such a unique word stands out.  In the first paragraph while describing his vengeance, Montresor says, “I must not only punish, but punish with impunity.”  Then, again while dictating his family motto, “Nemo me impune lacessit,” which translates to “no one attacks me with impunity.” We get the feeling that Henry’s character also shares this feeling of impunity to do whatever he wishes, without regard to the consequences, without a care for the lives that he effects.  He is obsessed with only one thing, and to get in his way would only cause a person pain and misery.

I also found the reference to the Masons to be very interesting and worth consideration.  The Masons are a secret brotherhood, known throughout history for being of considerable sway and power, a club that Montresor was not a part of.  This seems to me to be transparent commentary on the situation between Henry and the Crossbones, a tight knit group bonded by a single goal that Henry did not belong to, but had no qualms destroying.

There were a few other similarities between the two stories, some small, like the idea of this secret niche within the wine cellar where a crime is committed and hidden away for 50 years.  I couldn’t help but think of the secret room within the dredge that went on being a secret for so long, not plastered up with brick and mortar to encase a body, but boarded up with wood and nails to encase a fortune.  Both provide motive enough for killing, though in the end, only one is discovered.  In Poe’s version, we never learn about Montresor’s cellar being uncovered by a 15-year-old girl with a video camera and her journal-clutching best friend.  Perhaps that would have lead astray from the macabre theme of the story.

I prefer to think of this entire discovery process an organic progression; we have something that remains hidden in plain sight, which only needs to be looked at under a magnifying glass in order to appreciate its importance to the story as a whole.  What we have here is a literary ecosystem.  It takes more than one element to grow a plant, just as it takes more than one idea to create a story.  You must look into these passwords, not beyond them, in order to fully discover what is hiding within the cellars and dungeons of this story.  James Joyce once said, “I’ve put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that’s the only way of insuring one’s immortality.”  Perhaps Patrick Carman took a page out of Joyce’s book and has created a bit of his own immortality within the depths of Skeleton Creek.


Analysis of ‘theraven’

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2010 by Joshua

Theraven’ analysis.

The second password that appears on page 38 in Skeleton Creek, ‘theraven,’ is the second Edgar Allen Poe reference that we are given.  Similar to the ‘houseofusher’ I strongly believe that this password holds significant meaning, something that deserves being discussed and debated.  I hope to accomplish that here by asking ‘why?’

Very little analysis would be possible without first analyzing the poem itself.  For those of you who aren’t as familiar with the poem, I’ve gone ahead and posted it.

The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door –

Only this, and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,

And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.

Eagerly I wished the morrow; – vainly I had sought to borrow

From my books surcease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenore –

For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore –

Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain

Thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;

So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,

“‘Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door –

Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; –

This it is, and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;

But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,

And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,

That I scarce was sure I heard you”- here I opened wide the door; –

Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,

Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;

But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,

And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”

This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!” –

Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,

Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.

“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice:

Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore –

Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; –

‘Tis the wind and nothing more.”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,

In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;

Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;

But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door –

Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door –

Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,

By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.

“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,

Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore –

Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”

Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,

Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;

For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being

Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door –

Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,

With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only

That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.

Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered –

Till I scarcely more than muttered, “other friends have flown before –

On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”

Then the bird said, “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,

“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store,

Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster

Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore –

Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore

Of ‘Never – nevermore’.”

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,

Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;

Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking

Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore –

What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore

Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing

To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;

This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining

On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o’er,

But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o’er,

She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer

Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.

“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee – by these angels he hath sent thee

Respite – respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore:

Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”

Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil! –

Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,

Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted –

On this home by horror haunted- tell me truly, I implore –

Is there – is there balm in Gilead? – tell me – tell me, I implore!”

Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil – prophet still, if bird or devil!

By that Heaven that bends above us – by that God we both adore –

Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,

It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore –

Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”

Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend,” I shrieked, upstarting –

“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!

Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!

Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door!

Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”

Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,

And the lamplight o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;

And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor

Shall be lifted – nevermore!

There are certain elements to the poem that are important to this discussion, but there is no need to discuss things like rhyme and meter.  The use of trochaic octameter has no bearing on its placement in Skeleton Creek.  That being said, there is plenty in this poem that speaks volumes to Skeleton Creek and the characters we follow.  In the poem, the raven sits upon a bust (statue) of Pallas, a symbol of wisdom.  Through small details like this, we learn that the narrator is a young scholar, something that he has in common with our two main characters from Skeleton Creek.

“The Raven” is famous for being this piece that Poe claimed to have written very methodically, logically.  When delicate art is presented as something that can be well thought out, planned, and premeditated I begin to become suspicious.  I prefer to think of poetry as a spontaneous pursuit, organic in its roots.  Are we to assume that Sarah has been doing the same with her own art?

These videos that she produces, what purpose are they serving?  When I watch these videos I am watching from Ryan’s perspective, as if a friend had sent me some urgent message to help pass along useful information.  But the possibility exists that Sarah isn’t the kind of friend Ryan believes her to be.  The possibility exists that these videos are premeditated attempts to scare Ryan into relying on Sarah for more information.  He begins to use her as a crutch, his primary source of investigative information.  Sarah knows all this, so tampering with the story and the evidence would be well within her abilities.

If you continue with this theory you begin to see more connections.  The narrator in “The Raven” understands and is completely aware of the fact that the raven can only speak the word ‘nevermore’.  However, that doesn’t stop him from questioning the bird.  As a third party, we get to see this play out: the narrator prods the raven to tell him more but being conscious of the situation he knows that he can anticipate the answers.  This is a strong reflection of Sarah’s relationship with Ryan.  She sends these videos knowing exactly how he’ll react, providing her the ability to treat their relationship as a game of chess, always 3 steps ahead.  She’s anticipating his fear and paranoia, playing off of it, all the while pushing him in the direction she wants him to go.

This would all be conjecture without providing motive, but motive isn’t a stretch in this case.  Sarah loves the idea that Ryan relies on her and by pushing his buttons she can play off his anxiety, his paranoia, and convince him that she’s the only one who can help.  People with power want only one thing; more power.  If this is the case, we would be able to see that in the videos.  If we step out of Ryan’s shoes and become a non-committed viewer able to provide unbiased analysis, would we see that Sarah’s videos are skewed to create fear where there is nothing?  This poem shows us just how much we can potentially learn about Sarah’s character by how she relays information through her videos.