Gorey’s Hapless Child was so striking to me after we read it in class today that I’ve been thinking of it since. After going back to it for the second time, I noticed many things I didn’t see the first time. For example, the little girl appears in the pristine white dress in the first pictures, almost glowing with happiness. Then at the school she’s clothed in black but returns to a white gown after her escape. However, it is not the same whiteness–it slowly dirties and grays as the story progresses, to the ultimate tattered state it’s in when she’s run over. This is very symbolic of the little girl’s own mental and physical condition. Her father, too, comes back starkly different from when he first appears.
Physically, he remains the same large, muscled man. He’s still in clothed in furs, although the one in which he returns in boasts a much more ostentatious patterning. What I noticed, however, were his large goggles covering his eyes.
It could just be part of his outfit as a driver to keep it consistent with the story but it’s interesting to consider the idea that it may be symbolic of him, having gone abroad and returned with all these riches, become blind to his family. Even when he’s holding his little girl there is no recognition she is his daughter and for me, this is what makes the ending most tragic of all. It breaks the most fundamental relationship between a parent and child, making an already depressing ending utterly heartbreaking.