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Monday, August 3, 2009

The Train Ride

When Clifford and Hepzibah escape the Pyncheon mansion, Clifford leads her to the train station, and they go on a ride to an undetermined destination. Whereas before Hepzibah was like the parent and Clifford like the child, the two siblings reverse roles once they leave the House. Everything begins to speed up, and Hepzibah has trouble keeping up with Clifford. "They could see the world racing past them." Clifford declares, "I have never been awake before," acknowledging his first real vision of life.

During the time on the train, Clifford becomes more vocal than at any other time in the narrative. Before he almost seemed mute and spoke using short phrases, but all of a sudden he becomes verbose and speaks effervescently, divulging a philosophy similar to that of Holgrave, stating that man should lead a nomadic existence. He declares that the "invention of the railroad...is destined to do away with those stale ideas of home and fireside, and substituting something better." Hawthorne describes him as having a "winged nature," free to fly wherever he wanted. After having been trapped most of his life, Clifford realizes that "the soul needs air," giving a sense of his need to escape the prison in which he has been imprisoned. The death of Judge Pyncheon is the key that unlocks him from his prison.

But Clifford realizes that life is moving to fast for him and hands the reigns back to Hepzibah, saying "You must take the lead now, Hepzibah! Do with me as you will!" Speeding up life can fatiguing and one must go at one's own speed; change too suddenly can be a bad thing. Hawthorne shows that one must have a destination, not just a desire for movement.

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