The Ultimate Betrayal: Cordelia Gray, Ronald Callender, And The Establishment Of An Anti Heroin

1608 words - 7 pages

The Ultimate Betrayal:
Cordelia Gray, Ronald Callender, and the Establishment of an Anti-heroin

In the contemporary literary scene, heroes enjoy an increased moral complexity. Mid-20th century playwrights such as Samuel Beckett and Tom Stoppard have given viewers anti-heroic protagonists recognizable by their lack of identity and determination. Film noir detective stories of the mid-20th century have seen characters such as Sam Spade, who lacked the glorious appeal of previous heroic figures, become popular. Influenced by a post modern sensibility, many modern antiheroes possess, or even encapsulate, a rejection of traditional values symptomatic of Modernist literature in general, as ...view middle of the document...

He slashed his wrist after finding out he had cancer, and has left everything, including his illegal gun, to Cordelia (James, 18). With a failing detective agency in her possession and no money, her choices are limited. Rather than go back to her former secretarial job, Cordelia decides to keep the agency and go it her own. The methods that Gray uses in the pursuit of her craft are hardly reflective of what the traditional detective (male, middle aged, & confident) and the need for objectivity. This is evidenced in Gray's complete disregard for established methods and protocols. Gray's decision to live in the cottage where Mark Callender was murdered as well as the decision to wear his clothes leave the reader wondering if there is a method to Gray's madness (James, 191). Gray's interviewing skills hardly seem to reflect any need for adherence to professional standards. Cordelia adopts a very informal line of questioning with Mark's friends and finds herself trying to avoid the temptation to admire or disdain many interviewed during the investigation (James 180).
What does not come clear until mid-way through the book is that Cordelia largely relies on an inductive/intuitive framework for solving the Callender case. The better she understands what kind of person Mark had been, the more connected she feels to him, and the more convinced that his death could not have been a suicide. The peculiarities of this character and the need for such a non-traditional approach become clear to the reader as we come to understand the circumstances of Mark Callender's death. Cordelia discovers a series of clues-- overlooked in the initial investigation—suggesting that Mark Callender's did not hang himself, he was-in fact-murdered (James, 172). An old woman that used to Mark's Mother's Nanny confides that she gave Mark a prayer book that belonged to his mother, as well as a note. Cordelia guesses correctly that the mysterious note was destroyed by his murderer; however, left behind in the prayer book, is proof that Ronald is not Mark's father. Cordelia induces that if Mark were to reveal Sir Ronald were not his biological father a substantial personal fortune would be lost, but most important to Sir Ronald-is that his considerable personal reputation may well be compromised.
Certain that Sir Ronald had motive and the opportunity to kill Mark, Cordelia accuses him of the murder of his son. Callender eventually admits to the murder of his thought-to-be son, confident that the case cannot be proven in a court of law. Miss Leaming (Mark's birth mother), however, overhears his boastful claims, enters the office and executes him while Cordelia makes no attempt to prevent it. Leaming confesses to Cordelia that she was Mark's mother and that she loved him in spite of Sir Ronald insistence to the contrary. Lady Callender was infertile and sickly, so when she became pregnant by him all three left for Italy where she passed as Lady Callender and...

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