For this week, I felt the question posed at #4 posed the most fun to take on. What I found striking is contained in these lines:
“clean and sweet-smelling, not [having] matted hair and emanate foul orders like both Regan [from The Exorcist] and Eli” (30)
I see this as an example of Calhoun creating a list of binaries of what is and is not a child (a very Anglo Saxon way of constructing things) and then listing how Eli attacks these ideas. It is interesting that Calhoun notices binaries so well which ties in to Let The Right One In, whose author loves to quip about vampire physiology (as seen with the membranes for flight and the explanation of another consciousness living inside of Virginia). Calhoun, similar, sees the binaries of Eli from regular children and how Eli challenges traditional gender roles. These opposing elements that Calhoun mentions are important, as the construct of gender is an important one to consider. It begs the questions of what is a vampire and what is a man/woman, all of which Eli questions just through her very existence.
In nations like Rhodesia, there were moments of gender apartheid that were put in place under the argument that specifying genders to specific roles will be beneficial on the community. This has long been proven incorrect. Similarly, in 18th and 19th century Britain, women were delegated to roles such as a governess. Previous readings in class have shown us how long women have been marginalized and how ignorant the controlling society was of the female gender. Eli brings these fears forward, but in a contemporary way. It is not so shocking as to make a book like Dracula anymore, where Victorian males encounter sexuality that frightens them and women represent perfect models of chastity (consider how Mina, the more conservative, lives while Lucy, the more sexual, dies). Eli brings these fears for a 21st century audience.
Let The Right One In challenges constructs of children in many way. Besides attacking the senses by describing Eli as having a foul stench, indeed, every aspect of Eli is questioned, including her parents:
“As Oskar turned and left he heard soft creaks from the Cube. She was going to stay out here in her thin top. Her mother and father must be… different, letting her go out dressed like that. You could end up with a bladder infection.” (Lindqvist 57)
With this passage Lindqvist lets the reader know that children are tuned nito their senses more than adults let on. Similarly, children have much energy that is typically directed against their parents. With Eli, this possible rage toward adults becomes all the more real when it is revealed that she needs blood to survive and that she requires adults to help her feed. Since she is dependent on them, but still, as noted in Warm-Blooded, subject to the strange rules of adults, forced by their whims. Since Eli is also a vampire however, and really quite old, Eli is capable of committing atrocities. That is where the finale of Let the Right One In is so important.
With Oskar, he is continually frustrated with the foulness of Eli. But still, he forms a deep bond that, oddly enough, transcends age, gender and any sense of human ethics. Most notable of this is when the narrative POV’s start to address Eli as a different gender. This is creating a sort of growing consciousness that the reader participates in. Indeed, the novel presents growth similar to how a child experiences it, and this is played out with Oskar and Elis interactions.
Eli is also an attack on the Anglo Saxon construct of children that is incredibly effective, much like zombies from Haiti. A child must be good and innocent, or it is not a child. Someone must have genitals to be declared a gender. Eli challenges all of these ideas with physiology, morality and time.