Uncle Franklin - The Lastling
The mastermind of the clan of foolish venturers and the territorial lion of the hunter party, Franklin is a true puppeteer. This uncle of Paris, and this titan of the Wheel of Life, is the antagonist of the novel who, in process of quenching his peculiar thirst (or rather, obsession) of collecting rareness, turned deranged.
Who better to be labelled queer than a man with the deepest of pockets digging it deeper still? A man with the most profound of knowledge, seeking yet more? A man with all the means of amusement, yet not amusement itself? A man who can order platters of the most exquisite of cuts, yet settles for languor meat? And a man who commits barbarism… but with grace and elegance? Such a man is Franklin: The absolute paragon of peculiarity. And it is this peculiarity, concocted with dreadful boredom, that drove him to end the species of the dodo birds and capture the Yeti by the cruelest of means. His moral principles are the weakest of the weak and his conscience is devoid of any trace of guilt. His deprivation of moral uprightness is what fostered these abhorring obsessions (in the name of seeking ‘amusement’) and left no room for the value of life; a hardened heart he beholds which pumps for none other than himself.
One of Franklin’s most prominent of features is his ability to stay controlled despite of the blizzard raging inside. He stays calm in situations where most people would panic and focuses on a fix. He is almost icy calm-like, as Paris would put it, ‘an Easter Island Statue’. The opening of the novel where there is a hitch in the flight arrangements should suffice as evidence of Franklin maintaining his composure. However, the opening also clearly indicates another trait of Franklin which recurs throughout the novel and forms the firm foundation of Franklin’s character; he has an aura of authority so dense that crowds automatically parted to let him through. It was this command he generated that even amongst the elite of his connections (the expedition party) he held dominance. In fact, he is so influential that Paris’ mind was molded to be the likeness of her uncle’s; her mind was molded so wickedly that to her, Franklin wore the cape of a ‘hero’.
Franklin is an erudite man whose intellect surpasses that of the averages. He is a millionaire (perhaps even a billionaire…) for whom there is nothing in the world he cannot afford. And most importantly, he is a well-connected man. However, none of this satisfies him. It is as if boundaries elude him-like his legs would not tire of running. His curiosity increases with every answer because for every one question that is answered, he burns in the hundreds that follow. It is as Paris said, Franklin could never ‘arrive’ at a final destination, he was always ‘passing through’, no matter how much time ages him.
He builds no home-he merely ‘adapts’.
Franklin, with his corrupt morals and malevolent intentions, would no doubt, be at the wrong end of the reader’s appeal. However, i must be highly misguided to say, he is the only character of the novel to pique my interest. His character has an edge of ‘extremeness’ without which the novel would be rather distasteful.