Deception, Murder, Intrigue, and Suspense…Oh my

Our noir readings took me for a spin this week. My emotions were all over the place. There were times when I liked particular characters and other times when I went against them.

With regards to The Postman Always Rings Twice, I did’t really realize how I felt until I began reflecting on the readings. By the end, though, I think I just wanted Cora to take out the Greek and Frank. Neither one seemed to do any good, and she felt a little like puppet in their stories. I didn’t feel any connection between Frank and Cora; I felt hopelessness and idling purpose. It felt more like their whole relationship was based on the sole purpose of getting rid of the Greek. After their failed attempts and eventual success, their love story didn’t seem to go past much. I think this also stemmed from the comparison of a postman delivering a package. It gives the representation that Frank and Cora are more or less assassins and an assassin doesn’t just give up after one attempt; they give space, let the person believe they are out of danger and then strike again. Then the cavalier comparison of a package to death perpetuates the overall melancholy tone of the story.

In The Killers I felt more of a sense of never-ending paranoia. Al and Max seemed omnipresent, like no matter where Ole Anderson was, they would be a step behind. That was until Ole Anderson’s nonchalance about being murdered. It gave the appearance that Al and Max had been on the hunt and Anderson’s variance from his daily dinner ritual seemed to portray his knack for avoiding his persecutors. Why even sit around waiting to be killed? If Ole Anderson doesn’t care about his fate, why wait? Noir. That is why. That sense of hopelessness and corruption that comes with letting the bad guys win.

Finally, in The Pig Farmer’s Burden I genuinely wanted the farmer to help Lloyd. People in town were saying he had lost it and couldn’t give up on his wife who had left him for another man. All along little old Lloyd, who noticed something as simple as a pig smiling, had taken care of “his problem.”

It is clear to see some themes emerging in noir. There is always a sense of hopelessness. You can find the bad guy, kill your demons, get away with murder once, if you are lucky, but in the end nothing comes full circle. There is no happy ending, not even for an innocent pig.

Murder. This seems to be the problem solver in noir. There is no talking about feelings or untangling misunderstandings. It is plain and simple. The only thought that seems to go into it is in the way of execution.

One item that seemed to stand out for me is there is no clear cut answer on who you are supposed to like or who is the villain. Noir makes the reader counteract decisions.

Leading the ever frustrating suspense. Will Ole Anderson be found and killed? Will Frank and Cora attempt a murder again? Quite honestly I thought it was over once their failed attempt drew attention, but then again, what would noir be without a twist to throw you back into the dark abyss?

The relationships were also interesting. Not one character seemed to have a “connection” with another person. It was suspicion, guilt, or intrigue that drove people to interact.

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