LITERATURE: Henderson The Rain King – Quirks & Motifs

Now something like this would be ripped apart by online critique groups for its obvious point of view faux pas;

I smiled, but I am certain my smile looked like a grievance.  The hairs about my mouth were twisted by it.  (p. 151)

Now that is one of the lesser sins.  Bellow often has his character clearly describing himself as he cannot possibly see to do so.  In the scene above, it is a stretch, but it is possible to allow that Henderson felt and so from experience surmised the twisting hairs of his moustache and beard.  In other areas, however, he is more "out of body" in experiencing his features.

It seems, however, that Bellow does a lot of describing the physical characteristics of the characters.  So much so that it’s dawned on me that Henderson has a clear fascination with the visual externals of those he meets and constantly wonders how he too appears to them.  Face, eyes, lips, nose, size, all float through the book as imagery.  But what more do they mean?  Are they thread tying together the pieces or are they the pattern of narrative?

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