Wednesday, December 10, 2008

page 19

Chauvinism is not the only theme to the book, however. Another recurrent theme in the novel is “the whale.” There are several biblical references not only to such tales as “Jakob and Enau,” but also to “Jonah and the Whale (or big fish depending on your bible),” which helps reinforce this theme. The house can be viewed as a whale that swallows intruders whole. Its yawning maw is the blackness that seems to stretch on forever. The house opens, closes, and even growls, giving the intruder a similar feeling to being in the belly of the whale. Navidson himself makes this comparison when he stumbles upon the seemingly endless shaft. Just as Jonah is swallowed by the fish/whale, Navidson is also swallowed by the house. While Navidson doesn’t apologize to god, is never allowed to leave the house until he is truly sorry to Karen (just like Jonah is to God), who, just like in Jonah's case, saves the repentant protagonist. This, coupled with the fact that Johnny's mother was sent to “The Whale” where she spent the remainder of her days (maybe she wouldn't repent?) provides a strong literary tie to the book Moby Dick (several bands actually used Moby Dick to create concept albums and provide interesting literary ties, much like Poe is tied to HoL). Overall, while this narrative is enervated with technology, it is these thematic aspects that make it stand out. The male-female split of the story is genius and both Danielewskys must have known that. It adds even more layers to an already layered story. The biblical references add even more to that and, in the end, the story is endlessly complicated and brilliantly simple. The title could not be more fitting; House of Leaves... House of Layers is more like it.
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otherwise, go to page 36

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