Monday, November 7, 2011

Grave's End: Why Don't They Leave?

It was interesting and fun reading this book after The Amityville Horror, and although it’s of course perhaps impossible to know if it’s truly real, it certainly felt a lot more believable to me than The Amityville Horror.  I think it’s because it’s quieter: the things that happen in the house are stretched over a much longer period of time, and the events don’t really escalate in craziness like they did in The Amityville Horror.  They went more in cycles: a few creepy things, then nothing, then a few more creepy things, etc.  Also, even though lots of different things happened in the house (floating objects, “suffocating dreams,” balls of light, images of people, “the Mist,” etc.), for some reason it didn’t feel like it was too much.  Again, I think the reason is because everything was stretched out over time and the “hauntings” were a lot tamer compared to the ridiculous things that happen in The Amityville Horror (green slime, red-eyed pig, etc.).  Then again, the Lutzes thought a demon lived in their house, whereas Elaine and her family always thought they were just regular ghosts or spirits, not necessarily malevolent.  So that can supply a reason for the difference in the hauntings’ nature.  Still, like I said, I found Grave’s End more believable.
Again, something I found hard to believe – like in The Amityville Horror – was the family not leaving the house.  Sure, there were financial reasons and the hauntings weren’t as intense as in The Amityville Horror – at least for the most part – but in my opinion the events were still more than creepy enough that you’d think the family would run away as fast they could.  At least, that’s definitely what I would’ve done.  Like I said, even though Elaine had financial issues, there were still places she and her family could’ve gone and stayed.  So what if they’d be cramped?  A cramped living space is still head-over-heels better than experiencing those freaky things on a somewhat regular basis.  Seriously, how did they ever sleep in that house?  After experiencing only a couple of those things I don’t think I’d ever be able to sleep there again.  Even if I were in the same room with the other family members, like the family did sometimes.  Just doesn’t make sense to me. 
Plus, Elaine is, well, sort of a wimp (not that I wouldn’t be in her position).  At one point she explains how she feels bad about always having to run to a man when things get tough, she apologizes to her daughters for being too clingy and overprotective, she gets courage to ask for a divorce after twenty-two years, etc.  She also says how she was always more freaked out about the place than her daughters.  This is what made me think she’d leave in a heartbeat, so it was another reason I didn’t buy her and her family staying there that whole time.
However, I have to admit that Elaine does give at least one good reason for why they never left, in my opinion.  Her reason is that her daughters grew up in that place, so they became used to it and didn’t want to leave, whereas the hauntings always freaked Elaine out, because she had lived most of her life in regular, “non-haunted” houses.  This works well to convince me later in the novel, but there’s still the fact that these hauntings existed when they first moved in.  And, obviously, they didn’t run from the place even after the original hauntings.  It also negates the reason they give later for not leaving because they have so many friends.  They wouldn’t have had friends when they first moved in, either.  Like I’ve been saying, I just don’t buy that they wouldn’t run the hell away from the place after experiencing just a couple of those creepy hauntings.  And lots of them happened overall!


Jennifer Loring said...

I had many of the same thoughts while reading the book, especially the part about not leaving. When Elaine said she couldn't bear the thought of another family moving in after them and being haunted, I was kind of like...what? It's ok for your kids, but if it happens to complete strangers, that crosses your line? It was very bizarre logic.

John Dixon said...

Crap. Wrote a comment, tried to leave it, and bloop... gone.

Basically, I disagreed about Elaine being a wimp. She considers herself a wimp, maybe, but she seemed pretty tough to me, the way she hung in there and finally got the divorce from her husband. That would take courage.

I also agreed with your assessment that this is much more realistic than THE AMITYVILLE HORROR. Oh -- and I wanted to point out, in support of the book's believability, that they DO leave a lot. By the end, they rarely sleep there, and when they do, they camp out together.

In general, though, I have to agree with you about haunted stories. If I were the main character, I'd be out of there!

Tanya said...

I totally agree with your assessment of Elaine as a character. I think she's a total wimp. That was a big part of my post. One of my main issues with the book was that I had absolutely no sympathy/empathy for them. They didn't leave, they didn't try to get help, they didn't investigate. I can understand not leaving, but to wait for 12 years to get any kind of help or even look into the house's history? Bull. Either that makes you the biggest doormat in the world or your lying. I think it was probably a little of both.

Tanya said...

*you're lying

Dang... I should proofread BEFORE hitting submit.

A said...

I agree with a lot of your points. I liked reading this story after Amityville for the similarities between the two stories/incidents. As you said, Mercado's account is definitely more believable. Maybe because it is stretched over more time and the events are "quieter," and it certainly doesn't get out of control like in Amityville. I can't believe they lived there for as long as they did either! It was over 10 years, I would think that they could have saved some money to move within that amount of time. And about Elaine acting like a typical woman -- this story is one that I plan on using for my topic on our fihnal essay, for all the reasons you stated and more. Nice post!

Laurie Sterbens said...

I thought Elaine was a wimp, too, and that was a big part of my post, also, because I just couldn't empathize with her. She, at least at the time, was extremely, extremely passive. From my point of view, if something wacky was messing with my kids, we'd be on grandma's couch the next night. But she did have a husband who, at least for most of the time, didn't believe or acknowledge the events, and though her daughters were experiencing the ghosts, they were less afraid than Elaine. So she was kind of on her own in wanting to leave, and being so passive, she just stayed.