dreadedcandiru2 (dreadedcandiru2) wrote,

On what the trains say about the other Pattersons.

The interesting thing about John's hobby is that it seems to serve as something of a form of shorthand that explains who the characters are and how they relate to him. The most telling example of this tendency is, of course, John himself. We are, after all, dealing with someone who doesn't quite see that his own interests should not be the measure of all things as well as someone who, owing to privilege blindness and a general insensitive and oblivious refusal to appreciate what Elly does, see her needs as something of a useless obstacle to getting what he wants.

The other interesting thing about this is that we start to see why John has so little in common with his children and how it's all their fault. The example that comes readiest to mind is this strip in which we're supposed to think that teenaged Liz is simply a passive observer who doesn't realize that she's just standing around doing nothing at all to help because we're supposed to forget that every time she and Mike tried to participate, the tetchy idiot with the glasses turned into a sullen, possessive jerk who groused about how children should neither be seen, heard or physically present when he was being a big-shot.

This, as you will recall, is why we used to call him "Train Man" back in the day. His model trains weren't a bit of color that added a bit of pizzazz to an otherwise dull and mildly irritating character but instead a sort of easy way to remind ourselves that he's an insensitive clod who dismisses his wife's complaints about her life as being the hormones talking and a distant and unsympathetic idiot father who blames his children for his own gutless inability to reach out to them.
Tags: john versus knowing his family

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