Friday, October 24, 2014

The Quest for Forgiveness: Chapter 3

Last time, Brianna "Mary Sue" Bays was renamed Janna and adopted by an American man named Ethan. However, when he brought her home to the U.S., his wife was a crazy evil stepmother to Brianna. Janna. I've been calling her Brijanna. Watch out, she'll get more names later.

This chapter opens very abruptly: with Ethan being arrested out of nowhere. The police won't even tell him what he's being arrested for. We also get typically sloppy Rothdiener writing:
Humiliated in front of his students, the officers read him his rights, handcuffed him, and led him to a patrol car.
I'd feel bad for those poor humiliated police officers if they had told him the charges against him so he at least knew what was going on. He doesn't find out until he meets with his lawyer, Robert Cain, who is apparently a good friend of his. Turns out Brijanna has accused him of abusing her. Ethan gets upset about it, but then weirdly goes on a paragraph-long tangent about Brijanna's musical talent.

His lawyer appears to be reasonable, though:
The lawyer lowered his voice. “Ethan, this is serious, extremely serious. I can’t emphasize that enough. This is not the time to talk about her music!”
Ethan is sure he'll be able to figure out what's going on once he talks to Brijanna, but she's been placed in foster care, and his wife Susan has left him and wants nothing more to do with him.
The atmosphere was charged with emotion.
That's a full paragraph right there. You know, in case we thought there was no emotion at all in this scene.

There are hints all over the place that Ethan's going to be accused of not only physically abusing Brijanna, but sexually abusing her as well. He protests, his lawyer basically says, "Well, you have no proof you didn't do it," and says that the jury will probably assume he was sexually abusing Brijanna because his marriage with Susan was iffy.

Robert gets increasingly more agitated that Ethan just keeps saying he didn't do it. (Though I'm really not sure what he expected from him. Robert seems to believe Ethan, but he seems very annoyed that Ethan can't produce evidence of non-abuse.)

Ethan then says that if it's his word vs. Brijanna's, he's not going to defend himself because he doesn't want to drag her name through the mud. He says that would:
“ . . . [d]estroy her reputation, mess her up even more, and put her life in jeopardy.”
Her life? How would that put her life in jeopardy? I mean, yes, it'd be a terrible situation, but the chances of her dying because of this seem pretty slim.

Ethan insists that Robert prove him innocent, but refuses to defend himself publicly, which... makes Robert's job pretty dang difficult. He says again that he's going to talk to Brijanna, and Robert is all, "I just told you, you can't," and then we get the really bizarre reason why Ethan thinks Brijanna's life is in danger:
“I will not allow this to hit the major newspapers. She was a Muslim and became a Christian. Some may see that as rejecting her faith, which could result in a death sentence to her. I cannot, will not, put her life in jeopardy. You know that!”

First of all, there's not much he can do from jail about newspapers not printing it. He says he won't allow it like he's got Supreme Newspaper Authority, even when he's in jail.

Secondly, who does he think is going to kill her? She's not living in a Muslim country under Muslim law. Given how homogenous good chunks of the U.S. are, she may not even know any Muslims in her new home. She doesn't even have the same name as she did then. Muslims in the U.S. have converted to Christianity before without being hunted down. I'm pretty sure most extremist Muslims don't spend their time searching through crime stories in American newspapers to find names of former Muslim children to target specifically. They're not Disney looking for copyright infringement.

And for that matter, why does he think that would even come up in any articles? Was he planning on making a big deal of his faith and her former faith in the courtroom?

This just sounds like paranoid Islamaphobia to me, and I'm not a fan.

Robert gives up trying to convince Ethan to defend himself and instead decides to super interrogate Brijanna in court.

Ethan gets out on bail and heads back to his empty house to do some thinking and try to figure out how it all went wrong.
Ethan prided himself on the fact that he was a good provider— Susan never lacked for anything. They lived in a luxurious home with no financial worries.
No kidding. They bought a five-bathroom house when there were only three of them. That seems pretty luxurious to me.

Incidentally, though, that's kind of a weird segue. The intro to that thought that was, "They were very much in love when they married... at least, he thought they were. He knew he was." So... he must have been in love because he provided for them? He'd better have provided for them if he was going to make her stay home and not work...

Ethan wonders if maybe his past caught up to him -- his past being that he was in love with someone before Susan. Because apparently if you're in love with someone and then fall in love with someone else, you're really always still in love with the first person. (I'm glaring at you, How I Met Your Mother...)

Ethan tries to call Susan's parents to reach her, but Susan's dad is all, "Nope, you're gross, don't come near any of us," and hangs up.

The chapter ends with Ethan crying a lot, which is kind of a downer. But the next chapter is probably my favorite in the whole book, as it shows us one of the stupidest trial scenes ever written. So you've all got that to look forward to!

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