By Andrew Cutting (auth.)
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Extra info for Death in Henry James
Roderick is characterised as trapped in varieties of self-dramatising rhetoric, of which the final interview merely provides a climactic example. Nothing has so far broken his Romantic delusion. Even as Rowland's plain speaking seems to break the spell, Roderick describes his awakening in language that suggests the continuation of his delusion and bankruptcy of any other language in which to conceive of his past, present, or future: '''I am fit only to be alone. I am Violence Ashamed: Sacrifice in Roderick Hudson 33 damned!
Overall, this section of the exchange conveys Roderick's sudden concentration of moral thought and contrasts this with Rowland's reductive judgement of Roderick's behaviour as 'egotism still: aesthetic disgust at the graceless contour of his conduct, but never a hint of simple sorrow for the pain he had given' (RH 502). Rowland's surrender to impatience anticipates Winterbourne's similar dismissal of Daisy in the Coliseum; both prove to have fatal consequences. 32 Death in Henry James The text does not make it easy for us to read this scene as one of genuine moral awakening, however.
Secondly, sacrifice is a communal act designed to cut short cycles of revenge that would otherwise be never-ending. ,19 As a ritual, sacrifice by no means occurs once only in time. It becomes a form of institutionalised, repetitive behaviour, economising on violence by strategic deployment of super-effective interventions. This mechanism carries over to imaginary sacrifices in fiction from the rites that fascinated colonial ethnographers. Thirdly, sacrifice protects society by venting its internal violence on a scapegoat.