Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Juxtaposition of Characters in The Exile (Annotation G2-8/Goddard)

David Caspian is a modern day giant of the Hollywood elite, a movie star capable of big blockbusters and the subsequent fortune associated with it. Felix, black marketer in Nazi Germany can procure anything from gold to silk stockings. David Caspian has accepted the leading role in modern day space saga, Star Rover, and Felix has accepted papers to be Lieutenant Falkenhayn of Fuhrer Hilter’s elite force. The juxtaposition of two such radically different character in one novel is unusual enough separated by time and space, the end of WWII, Nazi Germany and Hollywood, present day. Kotzwinkle’s juxtaposition leaves his reader guessing, since Caspian and Felix is the same person, which one is real?
The Exile begins, uneventfully enough during a David Caspian hosted party, a party filled with his friends. As they discuss movies, and movie making, divorces and the art of actor agenting, Caspian lapses into a dark night of shadows. “Your papers please, barked the soldier. He jumped back, pulled out the Walther, and fired” (Kotzwinkle 15). Caspian lives the second life, alone in the night of Felix, a nervously confident man on the run in Berlin’s underground. Caspian is able to experience all Felix sees and does as an observer. Although he is able to explain the actions of 1945 Berlin in detail to his psychologist, Gilliard, Caspian is unable to exert his own will into Felix’s world.
Felix too, as he unfolds, and his world of war and Gestapo skirmishes can suddenly relax in a warm tropical climate he barely understands. Caspian is all knowing of Felix, and Felix seems to have a vague understanding of the other-side.
“Jung called it the integration of the shadow. Usually begins with understanding little pettinesses, hatreds, jealousies” (Kotzwinkle 84). Gilliard tries to calm Caspian, and continually reassures him that he is not crazy. As Felix occupies more of Caspian’s waking hours, he occupies more of the story of book.
In Caspian’s Double Dicho “A man may cease to be, yet still exist. A man may still exist, yet cease to be” (Kotzwinkle 275) both men appear to occupy the same influence in each other’s world. As Caspian finishes his movie shot of Star Rover, Nazi Germany is failing.
How real do these characters become? Felix has enlisted the help of the supernatural Luminous Lodge to aid in his escape from the punishment of war crimes and crimes against the state. As Felix explains to Dr. Gillard, “there were particular powers concentrated in the Third Reich. In any case, he is gone. And I am here” (Kotzwinkle 276). In modern day Hollywood Felix has assumed the body of David Caspian. Even in the final paragraphs of The Exile both characters exist, through mystic power, or loss of sanity.

Kotzwinke, William. The Exile. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1987

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