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From: "Roy C. Lackey" 
Subject: (urth) PEACE: Smart
Date: Sun, 13 Oct 2002 23:37:20 -0500

We know even less about Julius Smart than we know about Weer, for all his
being a "symbolic" figure and "the central character of this book". I want
to address two facts related to him that seem to be antithetical.

We are told that for 25 years, since the death of Olivia, that Smart did not
speak to his nephew, Weer. We are not told why. Despite this estrangement,
when Julius died, Weer inherited the company. Again, why? It would seem that
the fact of, or circumstances surrounding, Olivia's death triggered the
alienation. If the former, it raises (A) questions about their relationship
while she was alive; if the latter, what were (B) those circumstances
regarding her death that would cause Julius to want to have no more to do
with him?

(A) Weer lived with his aunt and Julius for two years after their marriage,
in his aunt's house, and was living there for almost an equal length of time
before the marriage, the entire time they were courting. Smart was, de
facto, a father surrogate for Weer, from the age of ten or eleven to
thirteen. He was about fifteen years older than his nephew. Weer returned to
his parent's house, just down the alley from his aunt's house, when they
came back from Europe. Weer was either in high school or college when his
aunt died, which is cause for a digression.

It is usually assumed that the choice not to speak was Smart's. The dates of
Olivia's death and when the juice plant was built may be relevant. Weer
states that Smart was already making money while Olivia was still alive and
he was still living with them, but the source of the income isn't given. It
almost has to be from the drugstore, because Blaine's account of his own and
his bank's fortunes implies that it wasn't until a few years after the start
of the Depression that a local market for potatoes was created by the
plant's operations. The plant had to have existed by 1935, because Weer
accepted a job there while he was still in college. The fact that Olivia
named the juice product implies that it had been invented, certainly, and
possibly that it was in production before her death. In any event, this
would seem to place both her death and the plant's founding sometime in the
early Thirties.

That Weer continued to live with his aunt for two years after her marriage
means that he was about eleven when they married, which places the year as
1925. If the assumptions in the preceding paragraph are correct, then Olivia
lived for 6-8 years after marriage. Whatever strain, if any, that Weer's
presence for the first two years put on the marriage should have ended when
he went back to his parents. Did it? He states that his parents remained
forever strangers to him after abandoning him for several years. Did he
cling to the stability that had been afforded to him by his aunt, whether or
not Julius was amenable, and despite the fact that he resented the changes
that Julius brought to his life? Did Julius resent the boy, only tolerating
him for his wife's sake?

(B) And then there's the question of Olivia's infidelities. How could Weer,
a boy, be aware that she was having sex with both Peacock and Macafee, and
Julius not be? When Weer wrote that "--when she was Mrs. Smart--repent three
or four times a year of her casual connection with Professor Peacock and her
occasional nights with Mr. Macafee", did he mean that he was present when
she confessed to Julius? (And where was young Den those nights?) To whom
else would such an even token confession be meaningful? Which brings me back
to the circumstances of her death. Was it an accident? Not likely. We know
only from Wolfe's say so that Peacock was the culprit; the text gives no
hint. Why did he do it? Jealousy? Of Macafee? I don't see the relevance; she
was married anyway. Or was that the reason, that Julius was jealous, and
Peacock was his friend, who would kill for him? Or was jealousy the pretext
and the real reason money? Would Olivia's death bring Smart some money (he
sold her house to the city), money he needed to start up the plant? Was that
nailed-down letter from Peacock to Smart (which would/should not have been
on either Weer's real or replica desk) relevant?

What if that letter, which Weer obviously has knowledge of, implicated Smart
in Olivia's death, whether before or after the fact? (Perhaps Peacock was
blackmailing Smart, or threatened to, or Smart feared he would. Perhaps,
also, Smart's pharmaceutical skills were used to silence Peacock, who "died
only a few years afterward of a complicated series of disorders said to have
been aggravated by hypertension". Shades of the Tilly tale.) What if Weer
had read that letter? What if the choice not to speak to one another after
the funeral was Weer's? That he despised Julius, but with his father's
wealth being sapped by the Depression, he took advantage of the situation to
make Julius an offer he couldn't refuse? In a Faustian twist, Weer agreed to
a fixed term of silent service--say twenty-five years--at the end of which
Julius would hand over the company to him and fade away--maybe to join the
circus or live on the beach in Florida. Smart would have accumulated a
handsome personal fortune by then, enough to live out his days in comfort.
Smart would have only been in his early sixties when Weer took over his
company. People just assume that Smart had to die in order for Weer to gain
control of the company, and that he did die. But the text doesn't ever say
that Smart died, or even hint at it. And during those twenty-five years Weer
would be guaranteed a living wage.

This scenario might also explain the "what went wrong" angle. Weer wouldn't
inherit his father's estate "between the ages of twenty and thirty" as he,
and perhaps Margaret, had rather optimistically and unrealistically planned.
But he _would_ inherit his uncle's wealth between the ages of forty and
fifty. Either he felt he was unable to tell Margaret of his scheme, because
she might rat on him, or he did tell her and she was unable or unwilling to
wait that long.



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