It’s time to talk about Perry. I have a hard time with Perry since he’s the hero in the sequel I’ve started and has a tough time communicating with me. Perry and Joshua (hero in “Wolf of Arundale Hall”) spent their teenage years under the thumb of Lady Marion North, a woman whose hatred of the Arundale family stems from disappointment when her only daughter married the Earl of Arundale without her permission. Her tutelage consisted of criticism, contempt and demanding absolute obedience. At the time of the Earl’s death, Joshua had been twelve and Perry had been nine. Perry’s turning point came when he was fourteen, almost fifteen, when he discovered his transformation to a horrible beast. Since the curse begins at puberty, Perry’s experience was fraught with angst and secrecy. Joshua, who had no idea the Beast was a familial curse, was unaware of his brother’s predicament. When Joshua left for Jamaica, leaving Perry in the hands of his new bride, Elizabeth, he believed he was saving them all from the horror of his darker side. Perry depended on Elizabeth, allowing her to guide him for several years before he began his descent into drinking and sexual congresses. He became dissolute, excessively drinking to numb the shame he felt at his alternate form. On a path of self-destruction, he became easy prey to the enemies of the Arundale men. He had no friends, only those who used him, robbed him and laughed at him behind his back. When he turned nineteen, his path was set and Elizabeth, who had discovered the Arundale secret, tried to pull him back from the edge, but Perry was determined to deny, avoid and continue his bad behavior.
Perry’s alcoholism is not the kind that began from a desire to behave badly, but from a need to shut off the “switch” that created his transformation. Drink and the deviant sexual practices he indulged kept him, in his mind, safe from the Beast’s clutches. Often, he ended up in seedy places and in the company of vicious people. Elizabeth, taking her charge to care for Joshua’s family seriously, retrieves him, taking him home and pouring him into his bed.
Joshua’s return signals a change in Perry’s path to eventual death. The question becomes whether Perry is too far gone to save or whether Joshua and Elizabeth can work together to yank him back from the ledge.
Since Perry was not the heir to an earldom, Lady North targeted him much more than she targeted Joshua, making sport of the young boy’s sensitivity and natural exuberance. The change over the years is marked and Perry became morose, quiet and uncommunicative.
It is his sullen acceptance of his lack of worth that keeps him drunk and isolated. No amount of effort on Elizabeth’s part has broken through the self pity and the shame that Perry carries within himself. It takes a different kind of relationship to give Perry a reason to live. In his connection to the Arundale maid, Sarah, he discovers that he wants more than his death. But his feelings of unworthiness and self disgust bar him from being open and honest with this woman he’s attracted to.
His story, the sequel, is mostly about how he must overcome these ingrained feelings of “less than” that dominate his soul. The years of Lady North’s attacks have left him in pieces and he must figure out how to put them back together again himself. It would be easy to let Sarah “fix” him, but Perry has an inherent sense of honor that drives him to spare her that agony. Instead, he knows this is his job to do, his task.
I have a lot of admiration for Perry, since I know that what he’s been through has scarred him terribly. How, in the face of such animosity directed at him as a child, can he find a way to change those beliefs he was encouraged to have? The amount of growth he must experience to effect the change to become lovable is staggering. Yet, I see how desperately he wants to be a better man, to be the kind of member of society that would keep Sarah’s love, if indeed he earned it.
In “Wolf of Arundale Hall”, Perry must face himself, but it’s in his own story that he comes to ACCEPT himself. I just wish he was a bit more willing to share himself with me.