” For so long had the name of Newell Paige been indisolubly associated with her mother’s tragic death that it had acquired, in Phyllis’s memory, a peculiarly sinister quality, symbolic of an inexcusable and irreparable disaster. She had never tried to visualize him. ” (XII, p.192)
Green Light begins with the stock market crash in 1929, on the eves of Great Depression. Newell Paige is a young surgeon who is to assist his venerable mentor, Dr. Endicott, in a kidney excision operation for a Mrs. Dexter, who has scraped an acquaintance with Paige that has ripened into a comradeship. When Endicott receives news of the stock market crash, he botches the operation, the patient dies, and Paige takes the blame for it rather than have his elderly mentor’s reputation sullied. To escape the ensuing publicity, he runs away, travels under a new persona, Nathan Parker, and finds himself in a hotel and later a mountain research station in Montana.
People collide with circumstances that push them off the commonly accepted moral reservation—and then they assume that they have lost their souls… (IV, 53)
Through the various people Paige (Parker) meets, he comes under the influence of the deeply spiritual Dean Harcourt, left permanently crippled by infantile paralysis, is knowledgeable of the various anxieties which bedevil the mind of the average citizen. He has also come to meet, inevitably, Mrs. Dexter’s daughter, Phyllis Dexter, who has alternately dreaded and desired to see him. The story is very simple, but heavy in authorial intrusion, propelling along with the multiple plots tethered together by Dean Harcourt and his philosophy. Although the characters are not fully developed, Douglas manages to put the troubles of Paige in perspective. It’s a good novel about how a man finds his redemption.
326 pp. Grosset & Dunlap. Hardcover 1st Ed. [Read|Skim|Toss] [Buy|Borrow]