Bali IB DP English

The Editor’s Notes: Chapter 2

In Analysis of Plot, Batavus Droogstoppel, Scarfman, The Editor on 01/04/2009 at 16:08

I received the draft in yesterday for the second chapter, just as Droogstoppel had promised. He may be proud, but at least he’s punctual.

He began this chapter by sharing what’s been happening in the world of Coffee Exchange, noting especially the competitive relationship between his firm, Last & Co. (I know it peeves him that his name isn’t displayed in this title), and another by the name of Busselinck and Waterman. I like how he constantly refers to the business as the ‘Change; as if it is the nickname of an old friend. It emphasizes his genuine attachment to his craft, and I’ll make sure to encourage his use of the term.

He goes on to explain the rather clever way he has pre-empted Busselinck and Waterman undercutting a valuable client of his firm: by inviting the client to make his involvement with Last & Co. more personal. How? Droogstoppel inserts some excerpts here of his letter addressed to said client proposing that his son join his company. Naturally he wanted to copy in the whole letter – but I discouraged it. Still, it made for some interesting revelations about his character. Who would have guessed that Droogstoppel, a man so virtuous and truthful, was equally as cunning?

Next he finally began to write about his meeting with Scarfman; an encounter without which this novel would have never been conceived. While describing the event, it is evident that Droogstoppel isn’t the most imaginative of writers; he refuses even to use an English word (‘shawl’) to describe what he judges is most definitely a scarf, or a sjaal in Dutch. So his language is really more straightforward than figurative, but it has its own charms, and it even works well when he addresses the reader directly.

Droogstoppel stops the story in its tracks again however, by digressing into his memory of the schoolfellow he refers to as Scarfman (a catchy and mysterious title) as he saves him from an angry Greek stall-owner circa 1833. The story does give us our first tastes of Scarfman’s character; he is noble and kind, or at least was as a child. In contrast, Droogstoppel’s subsequent impressions on Scarfman were nothing short of critical and even, dare I say it, judgmental.

I advised Droogstoppel to end his chapter at his account of their strange and unsettling parting. The tense atmosphere was made simply by the cliché of “a cold shiver ran down my spine” and the unfinished thoughts of an unnerved Droogstoppel. I was happy to leave the chapter at that, especially as the irony in the last sentence is almost too good! In Droogstoppel’s own words, he decided to end with “I hope nobody saw me.” What a line for a person who is as respectable and honest as he claims he is! His character as the narrator is beginning to take a more multi-faceted shape…

– The Editor, 44 Prinzengracht, Amsterdam

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