Who’s Right?

A common element I found in Saturday that I brought up in class is there are constantly arguments over who’s right. After further analysis I noticed they are all debates in which neither person can win.

Baxter and Perowne exchange a few words when they get in an accident. Baxtor says, “The Tottenham Court Road’s closed. You aren’t supposed to be there.” Perowne responds, “The rules of the road aren’t suspended. Anyway, a policeman waved me across” (89). The reader knows Perowne is telling the truth but it’s still not entirely clear if he wasn’t at least partly at fault for the wreck. Also, twice during Perowne and Jay Strauss’s squash game they argue over questionable calls. They have no instant replay. It’s just Perowne’s word against Jay’s. For both calls, one person concedes but neither is happy with the outcome. When Perowne visits his mother he nearly makes the point to his mother that her mother is not alive as she thinks she is. But Henry backs off, as he knows even if he tells her now they may argue and she won’t even remember for the next time he visits. The largest debate is between Perowne and Daisy. It’s over whether the war on terror is justifiable. In this instance, personal beliefs are what will determine which of them is in the right. There is no clear, factual evidence that can prove either of them correct or incorrect.

Then there is the larger argument of whether nature or nurture or both shape human’s behavior. We discuss this in class and it is also found in Saturday. It’s clear Perowne himself begins to struggle with this idea when McEwan writes, “But for all the reductive arguments, Perowne can’t convince himself that molecules and faulty genes alone are terrorizing his family and have broken his father-in-law’s nose. Perowne himself is also responsible” (218). At this point in the novel, Perowne is unsure of what to think and it’s never made clear what he decides. Although nature vs. nurture is a talking point in the world of science now, soon enough empirical evidence will end this debate.

James Cross

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~ by jamespvcross on March 30, 2014.

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