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Her blue-collar background has not prepared her for this encounter, and while Millhone is
usually able to think on her feet, she is more concerned in this situation with the prospect of
tripping over them.
What is truly disturbing about this meeting is the way it threatens to silence Millhone and
limit her power to make conversation, or at least a wisecrack, at which she usually excels. When
confronted with Bobby s family, she finds no opening through which to enter the conversation
(Grafton, C 543). This silence forces Millhone to consider Bobby and his family and confront
her own stereotypes about wealthy people:  My notion of women with money is that they drive
to Beverly Hills to have their legs waxed, charge a bauble or two on Rodeo Drive, and then go to
charity luncheons at $1,500 a plate. I couldn t picture Nola Fraker pawing through the bargain
bin at our local Stretch N Sew (Grafton, C 544). Millhone s idea of rich behavior is that it is
idleness, a concept far removed from her pragmatic attitude and multipurpose lifestyle. Millhone
is showing the same class prejudice that the upper class often exhibits when dealing with the
working class: she is relying on stereotypes and misconception. This image of the idle rich
makes Millhone and the blue-collar class she represents more enticing and noble as exemplified
by their work ethic, goals, and drive. To make sense in Millhone s blue-collar world, one must
work at a job or purpose--a subtle and powerful piece of propaganda on Grafton s part.
Millhone attempts to mitigate some of her prejudice against the upper classes by
engaging in a discussion about what their experience may be like:
I wondered what it must be like to live in a house like this where all of
your needs were tended to, where someone else was responsible for grocery
shopping and food preparations, cleaning, trash removal, landscape maintenance.
What did it leave you free to do?
 What s it like coming from money? I can t even imagine it. [Millhone asks
Bobby.] ...
 My mother does a lot of fund raising for local charities and she s on the
board for the art museum and the historical society ... Anyway, they support a
lot of causes so it s not like they re just self-indulgent, grinding the poor
underfoot. My mother launched the Santa Teresa Girls Club just about single-
handedly. The Rape Crisis Center too. (Grafton, C 554)
The activities of charity and work are ones Millhone can latch onto as a way of beginning to
understand the kind of life Bobby and his family lead. Bobby s description, combined with his
family s dysfunction, allows Millhone to see them as people and to move past her awkward
paralysis when confronted with the gap between their social classes. Humanizing Bobby and his
family also allows Millhone to reclaim her active role as detective, while using that gap to act as
an observer, even if she is not totally without bias. As the investigation progresses, Millhone
becomes aware that she is as much an enigma for Bobby s social class as it is for her. Through
this realization Millhone gains an unsettling power of activity as she breaks through polite social
customs to force out the hidden truth. She uses her social difference to bully the upper class
suspects into giving her the answers she needs.
Millhone relies on her ability to see the individual rather than the class they represent.
While large organizations are faceless concepts to her, and her political convictions do not take
prominence in the work, Millhone does get her political agenda across in the way she humanizes
and characterizes the people she interacts with during the case. The character of Bobby, more
than the rest of his family, appears fairly well rounded for the reader at first, because he is the
one Millhone has seen outside of his home and social class. As she proceeds further into the
investigation, Millhone and the reader realize that the obstacles Bobby s stepfather, Frank, faces
as a parent to his drug-addicted daughter are similar on all socioeconomic levels. These common
threads allow Millhone to make statements on drug abuse, parenting, morality, and society as she
traverses the social landscapes. Millhone only humanizes Bobby and his family. Her ideas
about upper-class society in general remain as negative as they were in the beginning of the text,
allowing Millhone to retain a distance from the class she is investigating and keep her suspicions
about those with wealth. Her political loyalty to her own lifestyle and class remain intact.
Millhone s distance develops into a curious balancing act as Grafton s series progresses.
She is not against economic gain and the trappings of affluence:  I wondered what it would be
like to have a city street named after me. Kinsey Avenue. Kinsey Road. Not bad. I figured I
could learn to live with the tribute if it came my way (Grafton, C 566). Her curious and playful
attitude is in stark contrast to Paretsky s Warshawski, for whom all actions have (often
immediate) political significance or consequences. For Millhone the forays into upper-class life
are more like a child playing dress-up: her own form of reverse slumming. The accoutrements
are fun to look at, but her blue-collar life is more immediate, real, and comforting to her.
Millhone, like Chandler s Marlowe, openly attacks the upper social classes, and both detectives
share a healthy skepticism towards those who are more affluent. For Millhone, the upper classes
are interesting to look at in an American Grotesque way, but real living occurs in her social class.
Millhone uses her quasi-outsider status to cement her objectivity. From the beginning of
the series, until J Is For Judgment, Millhone is an orphan. Her only connections are to her few
friends and her social class. This detachment allows her to play roles and easily slip in and out [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]