Reading Dave Eggers’ “Your Fathers”: Room 60–Conspiracies

Room 60: Conspiracies, Bureucracies, and Hospital Mgt.
[see previous post on illiterate law enforcement]

—I brought you in for a topic that frustrates me as much as it does the protagonist.

—Fair enough.

—As a director of patient access (is that a real job?), I’m sure you’ve seen your fair share of injustices brought on by misunderstanding or by red tape and paperwork.

—Or by cold hearts. I know what I did was wrong. And I know I was part of doing something wrong. I think the second one is easier to admit.

—Why was this a motif in the story? Why were you a character?

—Thomas said I was part of “a top-bottom system of wrecking all hopes of humanity.”

—Do you believe that?

—After what happened, to a degree. I see it better now. The system works against some people, the marginalized. Women, blacks, immigrants, the handicapped, the illiterate.

—Even when it’s trying to work for them?

—Yes. It’s not exactly a conspiracy. I mean sometimes, like the Koch brothers. But they’re just working for themselves, not against people.

—I don’t think it’s a conspiracy, either. It’s not a plot on any person’s part. It’s just getting used to structures that are supposed to support us and letting them block us from dignity. I think the devil himself forms the conspiracy. We’re just complicit. There’s no illuminati, no secret coup. Just people letting themselves be possessed by selfishness, indifference, and hatred.

—Yeah. Thomas used that word, dignity.

—It’s what the story is about. Human dignity. Being able to be treated with dignity. There’s justice in dignity.

—Thomas was angry at the cop for shooting Don, but furious with me for assisting in desecrating his death. For the cop, he was trying to do justice, but carried it out wrong. For me, it was like I knew injustice had been done, and put an obstacle in the way of it being righted in any way. Because, as he and I discussed, I was part of “a code of silence driven by fear.”

—I think there’s conspiracy in that. I think there’s evil conspiracy in any plot to hide the truth, desecrate the dignified. Kangaroo courts. It’s what creates martyrs. And it’s easier to point the blame when multiple people, multiple systems just keep their heads down and say they were somehow serving a “greater good” by not letting justice stir up the flow of things.

—So doesn’t that make his novel too preachy? He basically selects seven character types and lectures us about society.

hospital_beds—I think it’s fine for fiction to be preachy. Sometimes we need that. But I also think it’s part of the motif anyway. It’s the character lecturing, but he also needs to be lectured, because, ironically, he’s flawed and conspires as well. He conspires to bring people to harm by kidnapping and inflicting them with a benign form of torture, worrying their families. And he “blames” it on destiny.

—He also functions as a result of these other conspiracies. He’s the very product of the society that lets young men down.

—Yeah. I’m going to interview his mother about that, and his radicalization into kidnapping.

—Can you do the right thing and let me go now?


2 responses to “Reading Dave Eggers’ “Your Fathers”: Room 60–Conspiracies

  1. Pingback: Reading Dave Eggers’ “Your Fathers”: Room 57–Illiteracy | CALEB COY

  2. Pingback: Reading Dave Eggers’ “Your Fathers”: Room 55—Radicalization | CALEB COY

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