First Sentence Fridays – Chapter 17
This week I was going to talk some more about the antagonist, Frank Fowler. Between his character, and that of Uncle Ray in THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE, I’m not sure which one is more evil. Maybe they equal one another, and have their own twist on their ability to manipulate, coerce, and connive.
Frank Fowler has lots of faults, from cruelty, to acting devious to being a bigot. Sonny hates how he’ll behave one way around her and her brothers, while showing a different side to their mama. This makes it hard for them, especially Sonny, to persuade her to see things their way when something goes wrong. And things tend to go wrong a lot where he’s concerned
Sonny first met Frank Fowler when she was nine. She and her father went to his house to dowse for water because Mr. Fowler wanted to irrigate his farm – which is much bigger than their three hundred acres. It was there she formed an opinion of him from how he acted, to the way he treated her, and her father.
From the beginning, Sonny’s best friend, Daniel, is a target. Mr. Fowler believes he’s got Daniel all figured out, and he doesn’t like what he sees. As the story progresses, he makes sure to create as much instability and discomfort for Daniel as he can. He’s able to twist situations so it appears he’s not at fault. Sometimes Mama sees through this, and questions him, but then he declares they’re ungrateful. After all, he is financing their cotton crop.
Sonny’s hopes were riding high on the visit from her Aunt Ruth because Aunt Ruth would surely see Mr. Fowler for who he is. If nothing else, she notices that at least her aunt has made him uncomfortable.
Mr. Fowler stood under the oak tree, his foot propped on the bumper of his truck, drawing hard on the cigarette, enough so his cheeks sucked inwards, and he had to squint his eyes at the smoke he released.