Sunday, April 5, 2009

Rhoda Penmanship

Sometime last year, I watched The Bad Seed and finally understood the terror that is Rhoda Penmark, a sociopathic eight-year-old whose behavior suggests an cross between Patrick Bateman and the girl from the Swiss Miss package. Today, for no reason I can think of, my mind retuned to The Bad Seed — one plot point in particular. Rhoda’s first evil act involves drowning a classmate, Claude Daigle, because he received an award that she felt she deserved. It’s this little medal that I’m concerned about, because it’s for penmanship and Rhoda’s last name is Penmark. Isn’t it strange that the first evidence that Rhoda Penmark is some kind of monster would be her efforts to get an award for a thing that so closely resembles her last name? Taken literally, Penmark means something close to penmanship. I have to assume that William March intentionally wrote this bit into the 1954 novel off which the play is based. I haven’t read the book and can’t conjecture why he might have included such a detail.

Just an odd thought about something I didn’t have any real reason to be thinking of, that’s all.

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