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For Cassandra *Spoilers*

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What follows is some long-winded, self-indulgent, literary geek-out. Well, it's me, right? Skip this if you have anything better to do (toe nails to clip?).

The Cassandra character is going linger much longer than any other part of the novel, the question of what she saw in the Nightmare Box and why it made her want to be a writer. She may stay with me forever. Guess I ended up haunted by the only true ghost in the book, the mystery of what only Cassandra knew but would not tell. Transcendence.

The themes Chuck works with in [I]Haunted[/I] are the same questions in the Book of Job. Archibald MacLeish won the Pulitzer back in the late 1950's for his stage adaptation of Job, [I]J.B.[/I] If you've hung around high school drama departments you're no doubt familier with it. The play quotes only one line from the Bible, Sarah to her beleagured husband: "Curse God and die!"

Below is an excerpt from the final scene of the play. Zuss is the stand-in for God (Zeus, get it?). Nickles is Satan. J.B. is caught between them saying okay, maybe it is our destiny to suffer, but he still wants to know why. Just like Tess Clarke wanted to know the why of her daughter's death from Whittier. Unlike the Bible's Job or Whittier's writers, J.B. insists there must be meaning to all the suffering and in the final lines he figures it out and explains it to his just returned, nearly dead from grieving wife. What Macleish's J.B. sees is the same thing Chuck's Whittier sees, the only difference being what exactly suffering teaches us to love. It is almost the same ending as [I]Haunted[/I]. Perhaps Job is the only story we've ever had or the only one that means anything to all of us, all the time: if life is such a blessing, why does it hurt so much? Consider this a eulogy for Cassandra.

Mr. Zuss:

You’ve found
The answer at the end! You’ve answered him!
We take what God has sent—the Godsend.
There is no resolution to the mystery
Of unintelligible suffering but the dumb
Bowed head that makes injustice just
By yielding to the Will that willed it—
A world where there can be injustice.
You’ve learned that now. You’ve bowed your head.
The end is the acceptance of the end.
We take what God has willed….

I’ll find a foothold somewhere knowing.
Life is a filthy farce you say,
And nothing but a bloody stage
Can bring the curtain down and men
Must have ironic hearts and perish
Well, I will not laugh!
And neither will I weep among
The obedient who lie down to die
In meek relinquishment protesting
Nothing, questioning nothing, asking
Nothing but to rise again and
Neither the bowing nor the blood
Will make an end for me now!
Neither the
Yes in ignorance…
the No in spite.
Neither of them!

The candles in churches are out.
The lights have gone out in the sky.
Blow on the coal of the heart
And we’ll see by and by…
We’ll see where we are.
We’ll know. We’ll know.

We can never know.
He answered me like the stillness of a star
That silences us asking.
No, Sarah, no:
We [I]are[/I] and that is all our answer.
We are and what we are can suffer
What suffers loves.
And love
Will live its suffering again,
Risk its own defeat again,
Endure the loss of everything again
And yet again and yet again
In doubt, in dread, in ignorance, unanswered,
Over and over, with dark before,
The dark behind it…and still live…still love.