Wish You Were Here – notes p 2

Wish You Were Here – notes p 2

Chapter 25 – Jack
should have said,   remorse,  feeling the presence of “ghosts”

“And he should never have said that thing, at the start, about St. Lucia. Then Ellie would be with him now. He’d seen the same look come into her eyes then— as if, strangely, now Tom was dead, she could no longer rely on his absence. And hadn’t he just proved her right? The simple word was ‘ghost.'”

Drives to Devon – stays the night in Okehampton gets controlledly drunk – angry – sleeps with the medal under his pillow

Chapter 26 Jack
remembering the day/night of his father’s suicide – blaming himself to an extent –

“You bastard, for leaving it to me, you bastard for not doing the decent thing yourself.”
Dad did it during cow crisis – foot-in-mouth.

“…if he’d just bought his father a bloody pint— how different the consequences might have been.”

The oak where his father did it is over 500 years old.  Father had put medal in pocket and Luke’s blanket was on his bed.    Many men killed themselves during cow crises

The police detective is not surprised,  tries to act decently toward all.  Detailed memories.

Jimmy and Ellie drive over and Ellie about moves in.

Chapter 27
“WHEN JACK HAD STOOD by his father’s grave, he’d already had the thought (partly anticipated for him by Sally Warburton) that at least his mother had never had to know how her husband had died. Though he’d also had the thought that, now the two of them were in a manner of speaking reunited again, she might get the whole story— underground, as it were— direct from the man himself.”  (see note)

Before the funeral he really enjoys a good breakfast.  (simple man)

Drives to the funeral – nervous about everything – gets there police and Richards are there – drivers – they know he’s alone.  The “memorial” to the original brothers is outside  – Jack has the medal – now the tense is “would have to” as he thinks about what next and how to conduct himself.  – (stream of consciousness)
He wants to feel Tom’s weight in the casket – doesn’t –  (but the day prior the weight was felt by the drivers).

It was a matter of perhaps twenty steps now, a steadily diminishing number of steps. Jack could see the opening of the grave before him, see, close by, but didn’t want to look and so see the names, the gravestones of his parents, and, yes, he felt sure at last that he could feel, inside, through the wood, through his cheek,  through his hand, on these last steps, the shifting, swaying, appreciative weight of his brother. He would be all right now, he felt sure, so long as this weight was on his shoulder. He wanted it to be there for ever. And with each last pace he said now, inside, “I rocked you, Tom. I rocked you.”

Chapter 28
Back to Michael’s death –  There is a  hole in the old oak tree where he shot himself.  People put their fingers in it.  Eight months after Michael’s death Ellie puts her finger in it and invites Jack to do that too –  but Jack already has –  This shows that Elli is taking possession of the farm with Jack – “ours.”   But because Jack already has put his finger in the hole – it’s his farm alone.

“So he put his finger in the hole. Then Ellie squeezed a finger— it was a tightish fit— alongside it. “There.”

It was like a pledge. And more.”

If they had made love there, under the tree,  would the whole scene have changed?  Instead they went to the house and made love there where Ellie later talked about the selling price.

Chapter 29
They sold the farm – moved to Isle of Wight – now Jack is back for the funeral and thinking about the old place – all fixed up by new owners.  And there is the letter from Tony’s solicitors about his legacy.

They can grab the opportunity, sell and have some money to spare – or they can continue to live as penniless owners of a milk farm. (Ellie’s thoughts)  Ellie is “blooming.”

About Tom,  Ellie says:
“Forget him, Jack. He’s probably forgotten you.”

Takes a bit of work to realize the scene is going from Jack when his dad dies to Jack when  Tom is buried,  to when they sell the farm to the Robinson’s,  to Jack driving back to the Isle from Tom’s funeral and passing the now sold farm,  back to the summer after Dad’s death (bedroom scene at farm) ,  to Jimmy’s death (Ellie’s father) to – I think – the most recent episode with Jack in the Lookout cottage bedroom with a gun and Ellie in the car.   Back to the summer bedroom scene with Ellie convincing Jack to sell and move – to Lookout cottage with the gun, to Ellie convincing him in the farm bedroom (and Jack wonders what his dad would have thought),  to Jimmy dying, to the summer bedroom.

Jack’s idea:
“…(they) should sell Westcott Farm and Ellie should move in with him. That might clear the two lots of debt and then they might make a go of it. Then they might become Mr. and Mrs. Luxton and share the Big Bedroom for the rest of their lives, as was only right and proper. Luxtons at Jebb. His mum would surely have been glad. Even Tom would hardly have been taken by surprise.And there would always be a place for him, for Tom, if he wanted it. Jack would have wished— when the subject arose— to make that small stipulation.


Chapter 29
Jack drives by the old Jebb farm and finds it locked.  He can’t climb over, like Tom would have, and he can’t drive away,  like the car wants to.  He shakes the gate hard and leaves in anger but his handprints indicate he’d been there.

Chapter 30 – Ellie – in car on Isle
Jack came home night before and looked horrid. He’d not listened to his messages, not glad to see her,  nothing – different – like a soldier.  She’d been worried he wouldn’t return. She realizes her error in not going along.  He slept 12 hours.

“Jack to Ellie – “You wanted him out the way, didn’t you?”
“Who is “him?”   Tom or Jimmy or both?   Jimmy died shortly after Michael – were they connected?

Jack is very suspicious:
“’You helped him along, didn’t you, Ell? You put something in his tea. Or in that flask of his. Wormer, teat dip, I don’t know. Some kind of cow medicine. You put something in his breakfast.’”

“‘Are you mad, Jack? Are you mad?'”

“And the madness must have been catching…”

And at the end of that she grabs the keys and leaves – in the rain – (which brings us up to date – 84% of the way through the book)

Chapter 31 – Jack
Jack is haunted by unfinished burials – he’s mad and he knows it. he said he’d helped kill his dad but that was to show how silly.  Review more of fight.  Then he realizes he isn’t totally sure of what happened the night of his father’s death – review dream/wake –  She leaves telling him she’s going to the police.  He gets the gun out –

“Ellie, he was sure of it, would soon have to come circling back. There was even a sort of justice to it. As if her journey was just a smaller, tighter version of his.”

Chapter 32 – Clare Robinson
Had a “shiver” just before they bought the house. But they fixed it up to include a huge security system.  Hubby having an affair – kids growing up –  Clare ignores it – gets letter from Defense Ministry – forwards it.  Sees article about Tom in paper.

Big old “what might have transpired” section – Officer Bob Ireton and Jack talking security – Jack “trespassing?”   maybe even Ireton’s police car –

“Bob might have said, alluding to the Robinsons…”

Is “what might have been” a part of our reality – the opposite of ghosts – this is future ghosts – things that never were?

Back to Clare this time about the “foot-and-mouth” disease, her worries, then 9/11, then the farm is a place of retreat.  But the “Martha issue” doesn’t go away.   One day they have a picnic by the old oak tree and again notice the hole and Clare gets spooked.  No one had told them about Michael’s death.  Clare wants the permanence of the house,  Toby Robinson wants the investment.

“… a comforting uncertainty, as if consistently not mentioning her name was gradually making Martha not exist. Though Clare would never have said that she wished Martha dead.”

She wants and gets the house the same way Ellie gets her way.  But Clare wants to buy a piece of the old.   To buy “their very own  little piece of England.”

Chapter 33 –
Jack at funeral of Tom with Michael’s body just yards away.   He fled” the church yard and  stopped by Jebb farm (Robinson’s now) and had to go back to Lookout – for the gun – his dad’s example – how many had Tom killed?.

The gun is now part of the family history – a tie to Michael and Tom.

Ten years prior he and Ellie had gone to Lookout to live.  She’d been there, sneaking a peek at her inheritance  – he’d been there as a child – now they were both there.  He remembers that other road to where he and his mom and Tom went.  He happens to pass the place where the uncles, long ago, might have shipped out.  Wonders about Ellie,  wonders how Tom died.  He clutches the metal and throws it into the sea.

(This is a clue of letting the past go?)

Chapter 34
Ellie is in the Cherokee –  she remembers she knows how to handle a gun.  She drives back home, following a grey car, sees the light in the window, worries, wishes him to wait,  regrets not having gone with him prior,  now she has to go through the fear herself (worried if his dad is dead,  worried if Jack is dead)

Chapter 35
Jack looks out at caravans and is concerned about future.  Thinks about past – Carisbrooke Castle and Charles I.

“…it was like turning out the heifers for the first time. They felt it, you felt it. Even the caravans felt it.”

Jack is thinking major killing spree amongst caravans. He wants Ellie with him for it.  Their wills say each other but Tom is to be the beneficiary in the event of simultaneous death.

“People help by dying – but they also didn’t help by dying – because someone had to pick up the pieces.”  Jack picked up everyone’s pieces and he wasn’t going to inflict that on Ellie.    Worries that Ellie has told the police –

“Do caravans know things, have feelings, premonitions? … Do caravans know when a death is going to happen?”   “Did cattle know things? … death on the way?… the difference between madness and normality?”  “Luke had known things.”

Ellie is returning – alone – Jack thinks he needs to take her with him and she seems ready to go with him – eeks.

But Tom shows up – in full uniform – barring the door where Ellie will enter – he speaks:

“Shoot me first, Jack, shoot me first. Don’t be a fucking fool. Over my dead fucking body.”

Chapter 36
Ellie is driving up but feels a military presence – realizes she wishes Tom were not dead. wishes she were Tom – she feels his presence and calls to him “O Tom, poor, poor Tom.”

Jack realizes that Tom is in the cottage – Jack will get rid of the guns –

He goes to meet Ellie with an umbrella and she walks over to meet him.


Lots of bedrooms in here – the bedroom when the boys were born,  when mom was sick when Ellie came over, when they sold the house,  when Jack is waiting, when Dad has Luke’s blanket on his bed,


Notes –  seriously stream of consciousness with a changing time frame of reference.   Swift uses verb tenses very effectively to denote past, past perfect, present, future even future perfect (“would have to”)  (“might have …”)   It helps keep things straight as to when they happened,  where we are now,  etc. in this winding novel of  the past and memory and the past.

Major metaphor – cows and caravans – all the way through but here particularly specific:

“… it was like turning out the heifers for the first time. They felt it, you felt it. Even the caravans felt it.”

Characters – Jack – a simple man,  a farmer who is tied to the past,  alone in the world really – his past is now gone – Mom, Dad, Tom, Luke the farm – he has nothing else.  Knows more than he lets on –  (He knew this new Ellie had not just sprung up – page 254)

Ellie – a fairly complex woman,  desires her own life, Jack, babies, their own place. Wants to get away from the past.  With Jack’s crumbling past Ellie believes she’ll have a better chance at a future with him.

Tom – a simple man, wants to leave the farm and live his own life.  He becomes a ghost.

Michael – proud and stubborn – lost after Vera’s death – cannot see another way

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