While Shuttlecock tells the story of a son’s recovery of his father’s “true past,” and while it is narrated in the son’s “voice,” Prentis is oddly impersonal about the personal and family crises which are woven throughout this tale of detection. As an information specialist, Prentis is interested in facts and the interpretation of fact: He is a hermeneutic scientist who has little room in his life for emotions. The clipped, matter-of-fact style of the narration suggests that, like his father, Prentis suffers from a form of catatonia which belies the closed, cheery ending of the novel, where he recounts the reunion with his family. In his move from apprentice to chief, Prentis, in a sense, becomes another Quinn, and this beginning of a successful career and a happier family life has quite sinister undertones: Like Quinn, Prentis will become a disseminator and destroyer of information, a dictator of fact.
On one level, it could be seen that Prentis (the autobiographical, confessional “I” who is the main—perhaps only—“character” of his own story) has been successfully initiated into a form of adulthood: In the end, he accepts the imperfections of the father, he takes over Quinn’s responsibilities, and he becomes a father again to his sons and a husband to his wife. In this psychological reading, Prentis has grown up because he is willing to accept the world as a place where good and evil, heroism and betrayal coexist and...
(The entire section is 429 words.)