When I finished reading Edgar, I felt a great sense of loss or sadness. I understand that it is a tragedy, but I have some unanswered questions regarding Edgar’s infatuation with the commune girl who he was infatuated with. What was the purpose of her character as it never developed into anything in the story?
Hi, Lauren. The answer to your question has to do with Part 4 of this story, when Edgar is wandering in the Chequamegon forest. As I think of Edgar, it’s not in his nature to simply run away from something; he also needs to run toward something else. And so, because at first he is simply fleeing through the woods, he stumbles from place to place without ever really getting anywhere.
Sometimes a person doesn’t know what they are thinking until they blurt it out, at which point they discover that the idea has been percolating through their minds for a while. That’s the way it is with Edgar in Part 4. When events finally force him to choose a destination, Edgar names the only place in the larger world that’s ever interested him: Starchild Colony.
During the writing, Starchild Colony was a mighty interesting place to me, too, and I was tempted to set a few scenes there just to make it real, both to myself and to the reader. I decided against that for two reasons. First, I knew since Edgar was never going to get all the way to Starchild. Any scenes set there would have seemed odd and pointless in the end. Second, I quickly learned that I didn’t need to portray the physical reality of the place as much as its spirit, and that I could do better with a character calling, so to speak, from offstage. That’s how Alexandra Honeywell came to be. She is the nearly-disembodied voice of Starchild Colony, a place that promises both refuge from an incomprehensible world and the possibility of a fresh start. So I think of Alexandra as essential to the story—as developing into something, as you say—even though Edgar never meets her. Without Alexandra, there is no Starchild Colony, and without Starchild Colony as a beacon, Edgar might never have had a destination.
The paradox here, I realize, is that Edgar’s choice of Starchild is only the catalyst for a even truer choice. There’s only one place he belongs, and it lies behind him, not ahead. That’s what he discovers during the storm on the shore of Lake Superior. But he has to make some choice before he can recognize what the right choice truly is.