So we must keep in mind that in his later Archer novels Macdonald is working within the framework of a psychological belief system that, to say the least, not everyone accepts. After all, there are who knows how many differing schools of psychology. I’m not arguing for or against Freudian ideas, as I have no strong opinion one way or the other. I’m simply pointing out that a complete and unquestioning commitment to them is dangerous. Try to read a bit of Eugene O’Neill today and see how badly dated some of it seems.
I offer in what follows some quick discussion about the first six chapters and then a summary wrap up.
The mother – hopelessly ignorant, hopelessly delusional – is also concealing things from Archer (which, again, the reader does not yet realize). Let’s explore the background events that have already taken place behind the scenes, outside the scope of the novel’s pages, as Archer meets Mrs. Lawrence:
This is the hornet’s nest that Archer steps into. The opening chapter is
Overall, while I understand that few hardcore Macdonald readers and critics will agree with the high place I think this novel deserves in the canon, I’d like to stand by that assessment. There are flaws, yes, but they are of the kind that occur when the author is pushing himself, stretching, rather than comfortably laying back on cruise control.