Sarah on Seb
It’s not a coincidence that Nick and Seb look a bit alike, and are the boys who look the part of the tall, dark and handsome dangerous hero type, because I’m interested in how much of a role that is, and how much of a lie constructs of masculinity can be. Nick’s good at playing that role because Nick is, and I say this with love, inherently creepy, and so is the role, which says ‘don’t show any of these human feelings’. No problem for Nick: he doesn’t have them.
While someone who does have them has to crush them down, which would leave anyone in a constant welter of fear of discovery, and that’s Seb: you have these feelings you’re not meant to, you like these things you’re not supposed to, you can do these things that you’re not supposed to be able to do, you’re wrong on every level imaginable to yourself, and someone’s bound to find out someday. You’re pretty much an animal in a trap, and that leads to savagery.
Seb got into drawing I think in a very regular way, the way little kids do, colouring in and drawing swirls, but then it became something he could do and keep his head down so a) he wouldn’t be doing magic and b) he would be quiet, and not a bother, in a series of homes (his original home and his foster homes) that didn’t want him and which could often turn violent. It was a refuge for him and then of course became something he was ashamed of that he still couldn’t quite give up, another mark of Cain.
Girls in general, I think he’s ambivalent about – he’s frustrated by them because he’s not attracted to them like he feels he should be, but I think he also feels kind of grateful to them, because he’s handsome and they hit on him and let him preserve a facade of normality. Also, girls are more allowed by society to show kindness, and I think Seb’s very drawn to kindness – Mark is too, actually, but though Mark and Seb are both afraid of things Mark’s a lot more easily intimidated than Seb is – which Mae and Jamie both have though they express it in different ways, even though he doesn’t really understand it. Alan showing him kindness also left a pretty deep impression on him. So, Seb is sort of simultaneously drawn to and put off by girls, and hasn’t formed much of a connection with a particular girl: until Mae, who he does genuinely like.
Nick and Jamie are opposites in many ways, and I think definitely so in Seb’s eyes, to the extent where the first thing both of them inspired in Seb was fear: Jamie is everything Seb shouldn’t be, and Nick everything he should be. They’re both nightmares and dreams to him: very opposing dreams, in that he’d dream of being like Nick, and being with Jamie. And of course, it would be good for Seb, really, if someone realised what was going on with him before it was too late – but the one who does is Nick, and he doesn’t care at all: he’s somewhat pitilessly amused by it.
In the end, the problem is about caring: that nobody’s ever really cared about Seb, which has turned him into something of a terrible person, and that his way of coping is trying not to care. The continuous lack of care for a human being is a tragedy and a monster-maker. (See also, Gerald.) Which handily contrasts with the other side of the coin: what care for a monster ends up making.
I have, as you can see, many thoughts. Hope some were interesting and answer-y!