Thursday, September 29, 2011
the moral issues in The Devil You Know
After chatting yesterday in class about justice and morality in Carey's novel, I had a discussion with our professor after class about what I believe to be the more pressing issues of ethics. The back stories of Carey's novel: Lukacs' time as a rogue informant in the former Yugoslavia, issues of human trafficking, forced prostitution, women's rights, etc. seem to inform the changes that Felix undergoes as much as, if not more than, the ethics of ghost dispersal and the afterlife. Perhaps it is just hypothetical to estimate that Felix could not arrive at his decision to free Snezhna from her fetters without the knowledge of how she arrived in England, how she was imprisoned, raped and then murdered. Felix certainly does appear interested in social justice. His humanity for the situation and his need to understand and know facts and details belies whatever he manages to say about exorcism in the opening chapters. We touched upon the idea of ghosts as humans, whether they truly resemble humans or whether we simply anthropomorphize a spiritual leftover is irrelevant, but the humanity of the ghost and the other characters' loss of humanity drives this novel. Carey's work becomes not just a commentary on Felix Castor, the occupation of an exorcist, and the afterlife, but more so it polemicizes the relationship of the West to the crumbling Eastern Bloc and to the West's often predatory view of cheap and/or free labor. Caster exorcises not simply Snezhna, but Rosa too, as she is capable of achieving a degree of closure and freedom.