Let The Right One In

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

                To have a brand new city, means to rob it of any history.  Every city had to have a start at some point but it is still strange to think of a completely new area, in a place where nothing was previously.  Blackeberg is one such location. 
                The fact that it has no history to it makes it seem like a one dimensional place.  There is nothing for children to even learn about the area in which they live.  “At school, the children didn’t get to do any special projects on Blackeberg’s history because there wasn’t one.  That is to say, there was something about an old mill.  A tobacco king.  Some strange old buildings down by the water.  But that was a long time ago and without any connection to the present.” (Page 2).  The way the city is described is even one dimensional.  It seems like it could be any city, anywhere.  There is nothing that makes it special, or makes it stand out.  “There was a town center.  There were spacious playgrounds allotted to children.  Large green spaces around the corner.  There were many pedestrian only walking paths.” (Page 2).  The fact that there are no special features about this area makes it seem that it could really be anywhere.  And that the events that happened here could happen anywhere. 
                It seems that Lindqvist is making a statement about how the modernity of a place is less than desirable.  It robs a place of character.  The fact that the events of this book happened here, instead of somewhere else, also makes a point on how a modern place is undesirable.  “It explains in part how unprepared they were.” (Page2).  It seems that the author is saying that because something is new, we as a society have a hard time believing that anything bad would happen there.  However, this is never the case, because bad things happen everywhere, indiscriminately.
It seems worthwhile to note that Eli also seems without a past.  She just appeared next door to Oskar one day, without even indication that she lived there.  “Five surnames neatly spelled out in plastic letters.  One live was empty.  The name that had stood there before, HELLBERG, had been there so long you could real it from the dark contours left against a sun-bleached background.  But no new letters, not even a note.” (Page 46).  It’s interesting that we have two things without a past.  The town, and Eli herself.  We even know some of the past of Hakan, or at least a hint of it.  “That was one of the things that had gone wrong in Norrkoping.  Someone had remembered the brand name on the bag, and then the police had found it in the garbage container where he had tossed it, not far from their apartment.” (Page 12).   However, instead of being one dimensional like the town, Eli is full of mystery.  We want to know where she is from, what happened to her, her past, etc.  The flat town seems a perfect setting for her character, as it makes her more mysterious than if it had been in a town rich with history.


Duquaine said...

One of my favorite things about living in Milwaukee is the amount of things to do and the city’s history. You are completely right, Blackeberg is basically a cookie cutter city in which there is nothing to know except that people are to live there. I agree with you completely that without any history the town has no character, nothing interesting about it that would make someone want to live there. And of course the only thing that once stood there was a tobacco mill, kind of fits right in with the dreary, bland, no life way it is portrayed in the story. It is easy to see how Oskar feels trapped in this kind of place, he has no parental protection or even much interaction and he lives in a drab place with nothing to offer but the people in it. It is very interesting to compare the city with Eli and how neither of them seem to have any history. I never thought to compare the two but it is quiet true, they both are mysteriously lacking in a history. And you are right, the fact that the town has no history and Eli does but just doesn’t tell us makes the reader want to know more about Eli. “However, instead of being one dimensional like the town, Eli is full of mystery. We want to know where she is from, what happened to her, her past, etc. The flat town seems a perfect setting for her character, as it makes her more mysterious than if it had been in a town rich with history (Lindsay)”

Emily Zettle said...

It's true, Blackeburg seems like a depressing place to live because it has no character, there is nothing to do there and the inhabitants seem depressed. This might be in part to the war, but still the place seems like it could be anywhere. Of course to me it seemed kind of slum-like, not high-class or even middle class but a bare bones kind of town. One of the doors had a reinforced lock; a person who had been robbed. (97) The basement had a different smell: a trace of paint or thinning solution. (98) Just a badly sagging couch, and an equally sagging armchair. A clandestine lighting arrangement had been rigged up consisting of a cord feeding from the light in the corridor connected to a single naked bulb suspended from the ceiling. It was turned off. (99)

Andrew said...

Good posts! As I originally read that portion of the narrative, you are forced to consider why he is telling you these particular details about the city. In my view, I instantly thought something similar to what Emily writes about a working class, slum like city. Featuring seemingly replicated featureless apartments. In my mind I also placed that stereotypical European gray sky, with bare tall trees in the background. Overall a drab, discouraging setting for a story. But that seems to be what Lindqvist was trying to accomplish with the somewhat lengthy details about Blackeburg. Further on in our reading, I wonder if Lindqvist was detailing a subtle relationship. What I mean is, much like Blackeburg is a working class suburb of Stockholm, the seemingly normal exterior of Eli, Oskar, and Hakan does not divulge the darker secrets that each character carries. Eli the vampire, Oskar the tormented young child, and Hakan the pedophile all look like normal everyday citizens to the outside. Yet each is followed by a dark shadow containing their inner demons. Maybe what this narration on Blackeburg is saying is our society’s very real paranoia, not knowing what motivates others to do violent things. Working class Blackeburg seems very cookie cutter at first glance yet holds many dark, violent secrets. That was what I connected with it anyway!

Draculean said...

As I read Essay, I can not see , why you do not think that the book interesting. I think that your judgement of the book is premature. For me the book has already peck my interest as well, but my outlook of it is total different point of view. My thoughts was the author whole point is to follow the book to keep you interested. You spoke on (page 2), When you stated ,”the the author describes the city in one dimensional, and the fact the the author , focused on the this path the people were taking”, your view of what he said, nothing at all of what I was thinking. I was thinking that the author thing was to try to grad my attention from the begin because, in order for you to understanding the story you have to keep up and to use my imagination. (Page 2) When the author describes , “ They can by subway, cars , and moving vans, the first thing came to mind was city life, and that in itself made me think of model and very desirable. Then you went to mention Eli show me that the the author has you curious to some es tent. I
think you whent you end this book you will have changed your mindFor me the author wanted me to state curious, to read the whole, and I will because I want to see how every with Eli plays out. I can not wait. I do not think that the author robes the city of charter at all, I think the total opposite.

Lindsay said...

What I was trying to say was that there is nothing in this city that makes it unmistakably Blackeberg. It could be any city, anywhere. Like Andrew said, it's featureless.

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