“That’s the same thing as that other thing!”
Thing 1. (X)
Specifically: “There’s a certain amount of objectivity to it, or honesty…”
Thing 2. (X)
It is, perhaps, ten years before Montechristien’s death.
Sophie is fighting the Devil. She has seen the color of his power, and that color is red. She has answered it in a fashion unique in the history of the world: she has manifested in herself that same red power and used it against him. She has flung the Devil backwards through seven trees and deep into a hill; but the Devil is smiling, smiling still. The red roars in her soul.
“I understand you,” Sophie says. And she does. The Devil drags himself to his feet. He walks over to her — one of his legs is broken, but he doesn’t seem to mind — and he squats down, with one fist under his chin. He says, “Oh?”
“Everywhere there is horrible suffering but a world without that suffering is the world of picture-books, the world of grass, the world of those who cannot look up and bear witness to the truth.”
“Yes,” the Devil says. “And that is why Montechristien Groeneveldt must die.”
Sophie peers at him. The red is a thunder in her ears. It is tinting the world she sees.
“When humans strive against God,” the Devil says, “and God strikes them down, it is the most perfect of all symmetries. But there, you see, there, still, Montechristien stands.”
Sophie looks around. She has loved the trees, but she does not love them now; they are hideous in the peace of them. There is a robin nesting in the branches thirty trees away. It’s horrible in the mindless service of its life. And all around in the forest and the lands beyond the forest are sleeping children who day by day forsake their grace; and adults pointlessly alive; and kings and bishops who callous, jest at scars. And it is with a peculiarly sickening sensation that she realizes that nowhere in the world she sees is any sense of higher meaning, or of love; that she is staring on a world of not-yet corpses jerked about by the transient pulse of life; that there is no power to lift her up from utter despair save the Devil’s choice of prizing one’s own damnation.
“I hate him too,” she says meekly. She does. It is insane to her now that with his soul in Hell Montechristien should still stagger through the castle halls and make the motions of life; that he should snore and wear his nightcap and try, however grumpily and falteringly, to raise the children of his blood. It is laughable and hateful because there is no hope for him. It is as appalling as children laughing and puppies barking on a field covered in wartime dead; as appalling as men and women, forced to cannibalism to survive, who sip their comrade soup and jest about its flavor; as horrid as everyone in the long years of the world who has stretched and smiled at the morning while the diseased cough up their blood in agony and the monsters rape children and the victims gasp for breath in the torture chambers of the rich. Sophie can taste the hate. She can taste the red hate in her mouth for the damned and still walking Montechristien Groeneveldt.
Well, I guess I do have something more to say about it, which is that I rarely fall into this way of thinking but I find it very sympathetic. And so I’m forever singing Jenna’s praises for giving the Devil understandable motivations.