Soft hands and blue eyes

Respectability pp.70. “Wash Williams spat forth a succession of vile oaths. ‘Yes, she is dead,’ he agreed. ‘She is dead as all women are dead. She is a living-dead thing, walking in the sight of men and making the earth foul by her presence.’ Staring into the boy’s eyes, the man became purple with rage. ‘Don’t have fool notions in your head,’ he commanded. ‘My wife, she is dead; yes, surely. I tell you, all women are dead, my mother, your mother, that tall dark woman who works in the millinery store and with whom I saw you walking about yesterday—all of them, they are all dead. I tell you there is something rotten about them. I was married, sure. My wife was dead before she married me, she was a foul thing come out a woman more foul. She was a thing sent to make life unbearable to me. I was a fool, do you see, as you are now, and so I married this woman. I would like to see men a little begin to understand women. They are sent to prevent men making the world worth while. It is a trick in Nature. Ugh! They are creeping, crawling, squirming things, they with their soft hands and their blue eyes. The sight of a woman sickens me. Why I don’t kill every woman I see I don’t know.'”

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In the above passage, the soft hands of women contrasts with the cracked and red hands of the Bentley brothers (pp.30).

We’re later told that Williams’ wife had blue eyes (71) so he may be thinking of a particular pair of hands here.

(We’re also told she was a blonde, apparently the only one in the book, most of the characters having, like Wash himself, black or dark hair in their youth.)


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