Words You NEVER Hear in Arizona Bars

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EL237

Okay, pages 66-68, the conversation Ray has with the two guys in the bar. It really tripped me out. Initially, through grammatical errors and dropped consonants, it seems like the two guys Ray meets are supposed to be hicks. Understandable, as that comprises a large percentage of the people I've met in bars in Arizona...well, excluding Phoenix. Then the storyteller seem to shift gears and starts using some less standard words, words that just seem out of place, such as the phrases "exhibiting an ethical dimension," or "beyond my wildest dreams of satisfaction." He also casually used "vacate" to describe getting out of a truck. It didn't seem to be the far more standard instance of one constantly using a few big words or complex phrases that they picked up at some point, (a bit like the Summoner in the Canterbury Tales with his two or three Latin phrases) it seemed as though these words were part of his normal vocabulary (uncommon for one who habitually uses the incorrect construction me and so-and-so, rather than so-and-so and I, and forces a man to eat "varmint pellets").

This became even more puzzling when that character questioned Ray for using the word "initiation," as peculiar, or rare. This made it seem as though WIlliams wanted to hint at something about the character. This of course seems wierd as he's not even named, and it doesn't look as though he'll appear again. Also, I really can't imagine what. It could just be accidental, but one would think that, in light of Ray's sudden discomfort at being labelled an outsider for his vocabulary, Williams would take special care that the pointing it out had significantly limited vocabularies. (This is what I caught from the scene anyway. I can comiserate with Ray, as constantly find myself actively censoring my own speech while inebriated to exclude words from my vernacular that may result in persecution on the basis of my verbal acumen) If that's the intent, to just set Ray apart, it comes off wierdly, and seems perhaps, a bit sloppy on the part of Williams. However,  if there is something more behind the scene, it is far too subtle, (or will be explained later), as I didn't really get it.     

6 Comments

Josie Rush said:

I also thought that Williams had a major shift in language in that scene. It seems like she just kept the same voice, regardless of which character was speaking. First these men were established as the backwoods-type, and then they're "vacating" their cars. I don't think so. I kind of doubt there was a deeper meaning behind that slip though, or at least not one that will be revealed later. This part of the book was a disappointment to me, because in the previous section, Williams seemed to take great care to make sure that each character had his/her own distinct voice, and she seemed to just, as you said, get sloppy here.

Jessica Orlowski said:

I don't think that she was sloppy here at all. I don't know if I'm getting this confused with another part of the book, but I'll just say that we already know that Ray is... different. He seems to imagine things. Perhaps this "slip" was Williams' way of helping us to identify with Ray. For an author who has so strategically placed (or so it seems) every detail, I find it hard to believe that this was a slip.

Carissa Altizer said:

I went back and took a second look at the bar scene. You're right, Williams wording makes absolutely no sense. Why would the scary rednecks point out a word like "initiation" (a word many boys know by the time their in their early tweens because they are determined to begin using the practice on the new boys they meet who want to be their friends) when they were using vocabulary like "ethical dimension" and "vacate." The only thing that I can think of to explain Williams use of words is during the scene between Alice and Shermin. Alice knows nothing about this creepy man and then she says that she loves him (109). He actually tells her that he loves her back, and then proceeds to tell her "words are just noise" and language is just making noise." I don't think that Williams disregard for language in this passage truly explains anything about the bar scene, but perhaps it relates in some way that we just haven't figured out yet?

DavidWilbanks Author Profile Page said:

Jessica-- I get what you're saying about Ray possibly translating whatever 3rd grade vocabulary they used in "reality" into big words in his head. Despite this, and the fact that Ray and his monkey are obviously crazy, this doesn't really seem like a halucination, or if it is, it is so different from Ray's more obvious dilusions/wierd thoughts, that there is little clear indication that this is the case. During the conversation with the girls, they all maintain their normal speech patterns. The only thing that varies is between the words in Ray's head and what he actually says. This is more clearly delineated. I would be more open to this suggestion, if Ray didn't get gunned down so early, so that that sort of conversation could happen again, with a clearer indication that Ray was experiencing auditory halucinations. SO, in conclusion, I think that if she was trying to do something like that, she didn't do it that well, and if she didn't mean to do anything special, she wrote that passage poorly. Either way, the term sloppy applies(As Josie mentioned)......UNLESS, something, somehow, posthumusly links this scene to something relevant to Ray or the rest of the plot. (As Carissa pointed out) This just seems unlikely at this stage.

Carissa and Josie---- Totally.

DavidWilbanks Author Profile Page said:

One further addendum----
I will someday think back on this, after I have written a book, and will probably never be able to write another as I'll spend so much time searching through blogs, and explaining things, or appologizing for sloppiness. It will probably also make it immpossible for ANYONE to write a paper on it (until I''m dead) as before they finish it, I'll be mailing them corrections.

This thought made me wonder what percentage of odd details that we read as subtle clues leading to the deeper meaning, are actually just accidental "sloppiness" or inadvertant slips, and really meant nothing to the writer.

Dianna Griffin said:

Dave, when I first started reading this book I noticed that the author had used some very advanced vocabulary for a lot of the characters, especially Alice. However, Alice may be an exception due to her mysterious ways of thinking. Nonetheless, when the dictionary can't even provide me with a good definition of a word that a 16-year-old girl has used, then either I am not looking at a dictionary or there is something going on. I also believe that Williams has some reason behind using this language, but I guess I'm just having trouble figuring it out.

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