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Two good characteristic examples of James Page in October Light are right at the beginning of the novel, where author John Gardner introduces the character and shows the reader what he is like. The first example is narrated on page 2. James is so disgusted with his widowed sister's TV set and the "endless, simpering dramas they put on, now indecent, now violent," that he loads his shotgun and from behind her--without any warning--shots the TV: "he'd blown that TV screen to h***, right back where it come from."
The affect of his action was definitive: There was no more TV in his home; there was very nearly no more widowed sister. She had understandably bolted with fright right straight out of her chair, "fainted dead away," and turned a terrible blue all over. James managed to revive her after ministering to her with ice-water for an hour.
The second characteristic example of James Page is narrated soon afterward on page 3. His sister was scolding him about the equal rights of men and women as decreed in "the Equal Rights Amendment." James is said to have been "shocked and flabbergasted" by all that she said, which he considered pure "foolishness." He made his case for that foolishness by saying to her:
"Why, a woman ain't even completely human ....Look how weak the are! Look how they cry like little children!"
James was absolutely serious about what he'd said, "he'd never been more serious in his life," and his sister was as shocked and flabbergasted by his opinion as he'd been by her lecture--and she could lecture! The author uses this incident to introduce the notion that James Page might be able to change and redeem his life--even though he is seventy-three--when the narrator describes James' fleeting self-doubt in his reaction to his sister's shock and astonishment. The third-person narrator says:
She's seemed as astonished by it all as he was, so astonished to discover what he thought that he almost came to doubt it.
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