Log in

No account? Create an account
13 July 2016 @ 08:16 pm
3 FK flashback ponderings  
[personal profile] skieswideopen has very generously been helping me brainstorm for my [community profile] fkficfest/fkficfest assignment. We've bumped into a few FK flashback ponderings that I think I can open up generally to everyone. I think that these won't reveal which prompts I received (or what I might do with them; I don't yet know, myself!).

If these inspire you to a story, in or out of the fest, please do write away! The more, the merrier!

Think over some FK history questions with us? :-)

1) Why London during the Blitz? Why all 3 together?

In the flashbacks of "Father Figure" (1941), we find Nick, Janette, and Lacroix in London during the Blitz. Presumably, they could have made their way almost anywhere else in the world, including, for example, a Canadian or US city which, while not exactly at peace, was at least not under siege. Did they choose not to? Or were they stuck for some reason?

  • We know from "Unreality TV" (1861-1862), "Night in Question" (1853) and "Can't Run, Can't Hide" (1971), among others, that Lacroix quite likes battlefields for the blood, fear, and death. Is that why he chose to stay in London?

  • We know from "Outside the Lines" (1942) (though I personally do so despair of those flashbacks; how could you possibly not know better, Nick?!) that Nick later involves himself in the fighting — specifically for free France, against the Nazis and Vichy. Is that why Nick chose to stay in Europe?

  • What about Janette? I suppose, in times of such turmoil, she may be safer with Nick and Lacroix than alone... though if that's the reason, apparently it all goes to pot after the Daniel incident. And if Nick goes from London to Lyon, and Lacroix follows him, where does Janette go?

Prudent FK vampires would surely shelter from air raids just like anyone else. Bombs could burn vampires to death, as well as blow off their heads, or drive wood through their hearts. What is it like to be an FK vampire in a city of blackout curtains and curfews?

2) How did Nick and Janette each feel about the time Lacroix ordered Nick to abandon Janette to hunters?

In the flashbacks of "Hunters" (1840), as Nick, Janette, and Lacroix flee — on horseback, in daylight, trailing smoke — from armed humans hunting vampires, Lacroix orders Nick to "Leave her!" (meaning Janette) when she can't keep up.

That's, uh, not the most caring thing Lacroix ever says about Janette.

(Note that I'm positing that Lacroix means what he says here. If you'd like to posit that he didn't mean it, that's a different proposition.)

By 1840, it can be no surprise to either Nick or Janette that Lacroix's values, preferences, and practices are what they are. But that's not a common sentiment, a usual directive, expressed in so many words. After the incident ended, when they'd gotten safely away from the hunters and had a good days' sleep... how did Nick and Janette each feel about that order from Lacroix? Devalued? Bound together against him? Shrug it off, from knowing — even sharing — Lacroix's worldview, in which the weak should be eliminated for the sake of the strong? (Those philosophies only sound appealing when you're certain you're secure among the strong, I suspect. What happens when you suddenly feel your own vulnerabilities?)

3) When, and why, did Nick, Janette, and Lacroix stop regularly posing as nobility and begin living usually middle-class lives?

Obviously, until a middle class as we know it came into existence, this wasn't really an option. While there have almost always been merchants and crafters and professions, it wasn't always the same thing as what we today consider middle class. So, for a parameter, let's posit that this just wasn't an available option pretty much anywhere until the latter 18th century, and in some places not until much later. Before that, at least in Europe, where our main vampire characters mostly hung out, people were rich or poor, nobility or not, and Nick, Janette, and Lacroix usually chose to be among the rich and comfortable.

But at some point, that changed. They — even Lacroix, apparently last of all — got jobs. They didn't seek the rich and powerful (and famous! is that significant?) anymore. Were there specific turning points for each of them as individuals? Or was it just the way of the world, turning around them, without any specific decisions? Or was it something decreed or recommended in some manner, perhaps by Aristotle or Larry Merlin or the Enforcers?

Nick was still palling around with royalty as late as the flashbacks of "Strings" (1916). But then, and for many centuries before, he almost indiscriminately let people call him by his first name, which would have been quite an intimacy and sign of solidarity in most of those times and places.

When, in "Cherry Blossoms," Janette teases Nick about how rich he is and how much his loft doesn't show it, he replies as if instructing her about how to be an inconspicuous middle-class person. Does he really think she doesn't know? Or is he weighting it on the police officer side, which of course she actually wouldn't know? What about Lacroix's job at CERK — is it his first employment, as such?

Comments on Dreamwidth: comment count unavailable
dlyt: pic#125302146dlyt on July 15th, 2016 02:57 am (UTC)
1. I think Nick would fight or work for the Allies in order to protect his original homeland, especially after meeting Adolf Hitler. LaCroix might have been amusing himself by helping the Allies simply to stay close to Nick. The relationship between Janette and LaCroix seems closer than usual in this episode. I notice that both appear, tying off bathrobes as they respond to Nick chasing Daniel away, almost as though they had come from the same bedroom? As for staying in London, remember that it wasn't terribly safe to travel on the seas at that time, and that few places in Europe were much safer. There also would have been some limits on their movement based on their service status, real or counterfeit. I don't see the curfews as creating too many problems for them, other than making "hunting" more challenging.

2. I always wondered, when watching "Hunters," whether LaCroix wasn't already injured or wounded at the time he tells Nick to abandon Janette. When they do get to shelter, LaCroix is content to let Nick do the fighting to protect all of them. He appears to be in pain (perhaps from sun exposure?). Then, he gets shot, and Nick aggressively protects them all. I think there's a possibility that Janette would have forgiven LaCroix for ordering Nick to abandon her simply because it was a demonstration of a weakness and fear, which couldn't have happened very often. Of course, that begs the question of what Janette would have done had their positions been reversed. I'm not sure she wouldn't have left him behind under similar circumstances.

On the other hand, LaCroix had survived for a very, very long time, and both Nick and Janette knew it, and it can't have come as a surprise that, when push came to shove, he would abandon (expend?) them to save his own skin. Nick's actions to save Janette can't have done anything but further endear him to her.

3. Being the consummate pragmatist, LaCroix would take on whatever status gave him the best advantage at the time. Success over time requires a certain amount of anonymity and ease of movement. Nobility moved more freely about the country than the other classes (with the possible exception of tradesmen and those engaged in the movement of goods by caravan or wagon) in earlier days. As the middle classes developed into their more modern forms, the ease of movement from place to place and between communities may have led them, one at a time, to adopt a more middle class persona. Nobility, at the same time, became more and more tied to certain geographic limitations. They also gained a more public identity, which made it harder for the vampires to hide among them. So, perhaps it's the link between ease of movement and the need for anonymity that propelled them into the middle class.

As for taking jobs, I see Janette taking on business ownership as soon as it was socially acceptable for her to do so, and it's easy to see LaCroix approving of her doing so. LaCroix may have taken on jobs for access to powerful or influential mortals, or simply to alleviate or postpone boredom. He boasted at times of having positions of influence with Nero and Genghis Khan, and he appears in various military uniforms at different times, implying "employment" by those forces. Nick, I think, would have only sought out employment in furtherance of one of his personal goals. I don't get the impression that the fact of Nick's employment is the point of contention between him and the rest of his "family." Their derision has more to do with his motives for having the type of employment that he chooses.
Amy R.: Trio Fang Gangbrightknightie on July 17th, 2016 07:18 pm (UTC)
Re: Ponderings
>"almost as though they had come from the same bedroom?"

Such an interpretation will certainly appeal to those who have a Lacroix/Janette preference! Indeed, PJ has already testified to it below in this thread. :-)

For myself, I prefer to think that Janette had her own bed, and that she and Lacroix were independently wakened and drawn by the commotion and turmoil.

>"I'm not sure she wouldn't have left him behind under similar circumstances."

That's an interesting and potent point.

As Susan G. depicted so memorably in the flashbacks of her second "Dorian the Archivist" FK novel, Kind Soul, and also in her non-series FK novella paper zine Three of a Kind, I also interpret that Janette would free herself of Lacroix if she believed she could do so successfully, completely undetected, with no injury to herself.

But the challenge is always that there's more peril of injury to herself. In dire danger, Lacroix survives, and he does not forgive those who cross him. I think that Janette's interest in her own survival keeps her from daring to be perceived as crossing Lacroix, even at great cost to herself. She's even more trapped than Nick is, in that way.
PJ1228pj1228 on July 15th, 2016 08:56 pm (UTC)

I agree wirh what dlyt wrote.

1. We know that Lacroix rode with Charlemagne and Genghis Khan, possibly acting as advisor in military missions. Perhaps he provided a similar service in London. The uniform seems to suggest an official position.

By the way I like the hypothesis proposed by dlyt that Janette and Lacroix may have come out of the same bedroom. It never occurred to me before.

2. I've always attributed Lacroix's behaviour to a situation of pure panic where all his concern is about the safety of his Nicholas. One of the situations where he clearly expresses whom he favours.

3. I agree with dlyt. In modern times it's easier to hide among the middle class than stand out as scattered nobility.

Amy R.: Trio Fang Gangbrightknightie on July 16th, 2016 04:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing your thoughts about Lacroix's motivations.

I wouldn't have imagined that advising Charlemagne and Ghengis Khan was a middle-class job :-) but it is certainly an activity that fills one's time. I find it interesting that everyone, on LJ and on DW, who chose to engage with my pondering about class chose to fasten first on how Lacroix spends his time.

Like you, I'd also never before imagined that Janette and Lacroix came from the same bedroom in the "Father Figure" flashback. I'd like to suggest that people in the same house in different bedrooms, awakened by a commotion, can arrive at the scene of the commotion at the same time, without having been together. (For me, personally, Janette and Nick's evident closeness earlier in those same "Father Figure" flashbacks makes distressing and distasteful the suggestion that Janette was also sleeping with Lacroix. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary.)
PJ1228pj1228 on July 16th, 2016 05:44 pm (UTC)

Oops, I hadn't meant to imply that advising Charlemagne was a middle-class job. That part of my reply was referring to the London question. Sorry if I caused confusion. :)

Amy R.: Trio Fang Gangbrightknightie on July 16th, 2016 06:28 pm (UTC)
Ah! My misunderstanding! :-)