“Kind One” – Unraveling a Very Appropriate Title

I keep returning to the idea of “the kindly ones” which Laird Hunt discussed in his interview with Bookforum which was posted on this blog. We know he describes these figures as storytellers and mystics in the Greek Empire  – as “furies of Ancient legend” who had a role in controlling fate. I did a little digging and found the a description of the three particular Greek goddesses who are related to the idea of “the fury;” the Erinyes were the goddesses of retribution, and of justice and vengeance (Theoi, 1). What’s interesting is that their Greek name “Erinys” is translated into Latin as “furia” or “dira”  — which means murky, dark, or misty ones. “Furia” of course ties to our word, “fury.” One reviewer writes that ancient Greek people referred to these goddesses, and figures like them, as “the kindly ones” because they were too afraid to use their proper names and address them directly (Fletcher, 1). So an initial title that seems so ill-fitting is actually perfectly placed here. As it seems with all of Laird Hunt’s literary decisions, there are layers behind, and deeper significances to, names and details — ones which at first seem insignificant. Indeed, I even think the initial discordance “Kind One” as a title seems to have with the text of the book itself works brilliantly; like Ginny, or Cleome, or Zinnia, we are grappling with which character to trust, and who to assign this positive title too. And like them, when it seems as if no character can truly be lifted up as our pure and loving hero, we are thrown into mistrust, confusion, uneasiness. That’s certainly what I experienced while reading further, and learning more — (Zinnia’s scar! Ginny’s apparent apathy! The way that Cleome urged Zinnia to throw Ginny’s key away entirely!). The very title stirs a tension that is reflective of the eery pulse and perturbation of this text.

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