Horror: A study on Cliver Barker part 11, Skins of the Fathers.
Summary: Skins of the Fathers tells the story of how the town's people of Welcome, Arizona react when a parade of monsters makes their way through the desert outside their town. The monsters are on their way to collect a child that was produced after they gang raped a woman five years earlier. The town's people, in a rather red-neck fashion, gathers an armed mob who plan on shooting and 'lynching' the monsters. The story ends when they town's people are killed after the monsters use a type of 'magic' that turns the ground into quicksand and swallows the mob up. The few that survive (including the MC), find themselves stuck/half buried in the ground with the sun about to rise (implying they will be cooked alive in the desert sun).
Notes: I wanted to touch on three things, Clive Barker's writing style, the theme of this story, and world building.
Style: Having studied ten of Clive Barker's stories, we can start seeing a pattern on how he describes a scene. Rather than describe a scene/environment in traditional terms, Clive Barker uses the poetic device personification to bring subtext/feeling to his descriptions. For those unfamiliar with what personification is, it is where the author describes something that is non-human (an animal, weather, a city, etc.) in human terms. The opening sentences of this story use this device.
"The car coughed, choked, and died. Davidson... tried to revive the engine, but it refused life."
and a few sentences later,
"The mountains ... were eaten up by the heat-haze."
Cough, choke, refuse, eaten up, These are things people do. They are being used to really paint the scene and show the environment. Clive Barker does this a lot; in fact, I believe I made note of it in his short stories 'Book of Blood' and "Midnight meat train.' (Part 2 & 3 of this series) if you'd like to read those examples.
Theme: The theme of this story is 'monsters.' I want to show the juxtapositions that Clive Barker uses in this theme to really drive home the message he was trying to explore.
Monsters- The monsters rape a woman in hopes that the child she bears will be the first part of their plan to sow humility and kindness into the human race. They commit a monstrous action (rape) for a rather noble cause (make humanity a better race.)
Town's people- The town's people want to defend their home (a very noble endeavor) not because the monsters are threatening them (in fact, the monsters have no interest in harming the town's people) but because the monsters are different than humans (They be Racist as hell.)
Eugene- Eugene is the real monster of this story. He is a man who rapes and beats his wife (the woman the monsters raped) and her son. The town's people make him part of the mob (this proves to be their fatal flaw) which results in him killing Aaron (the boy born out of the monster's rape). As punishment, the monsters perform their trick which kills the angry mob.
Story building: The last part I want to look at is the world building of Clive Barker. I made the argument that all of Clive Barker's works take place in a shared universe. This is not only supported by the first story in Books of Blood, but by the fact that a number of his characters appear in different works. (The Cenobites in the Hellbound Soul, are talked about in Weaveworld is one such example.)
Regardless, Midnight Meat Train, the Skins of the Fathers, Rawhead Rex, and Weaveworld all share a similar idea, Ancient creatures (possible all the same race) have hidden away from the world deep inside the earth.
I am going to come back to this idea when I get Rawheard Rex (which will be part 14 of this study.)
In conclusion, there are two things I've learned from Clive Barker that I am wanting to implement into my own writing style. I love how he uses Personification in his describing a scene, and I l9ve the dreadful sense of fearing things that sleep in dark, deep places of the world. I have a similar idea in my own story world, but Clive Barker has given me some insight and ideas on how to approach this is a more eerie fashion.
I hope you've all enjoyed part 11 of this study. If you have a question or a thought please leave a comment or a like!
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