They get hurtful and angry again with each other, cursing at each other and then Susanna seems to react in a pained and hurt way.
Maisie’s growing love and affection for Lincoln can be seen in this moment, her wanting to share her newfound “father” to her class. Though this moment offers us yet another bonding moment between Maisie, Lincoln, and Margo — where they truly begin to become a family — intriguingly, McGehee and Siegel sneak in two core contrasting world views, one that speaks to a belief in “every man for himself,” e.g., a dog-eat-dog, survival of the fittest, cutthroat competitive, power seeking, dominating, hierarchical (patriarchal) ideology and an ideology of which Lincoln speaks, a cooperative (versus competitive), pacifist world view, which I would extend to include a more sensitive, nurturing, empathetic, sympathetic way of being.
In this way, too, then, the film reveals something we perhaps take for granted, that children need safe and stable parenting, in more ways than one. This story touched something in Maisie, a touching that potentially could be the father-daughter bonding moment that are the building blocks of a healthy, intimate, close relationship. She tries to get a hold of Beale but she can’t get a hold of him. This moment also speaks to Susanna being a domineering and controlling mother, who allows Maisie little to no choice, especially when it comes to inconveniencing Susanna. One could perhaps read this song metaphorically, where Maisie is the “baby” “on the tree top” (e.g., put in danger by her dysfunctional parents) and who, due to her parents’ dysfunction (the “wind”), will be allowed to “fall,” not to her death of course but to a miserable life that will end with her also inevitably becoming just as dysfunctional as her parents. "Your dad's an asshole," she says.
When Maisie talks admiringly of Susanna being on "a big tour" with her band, Beale observes: "Not so big, I hear." Lincoln’s interaction with Maisie is genuine, in the sense that he wants to interact with her instead of just making her an object of disconnected (unearned) affection. The really devastating implication of this situation is that it probably forecasts a future for Maisie where she may have difficulty making healthy friends. (I have to note something here about this particular scene: A lot of my students and my daughter somewhat disagree with me on this reading. (Depending on the abuse and trauma, I believe it becomes harder and harder for children/adolescents to cope the older they get, symptoms manifesting themselves more transparently.) Beale joins them and seems good with Maisie (“You’re cheating!). Here we get another illustration of a deeper pattern of Margo — and later Lincoln — creating deeply contrasting parenting strategies, in this case, Margo thinking of Maisie’s feelings and finding a way to consider Maisie’s desire to keep this wonderful gift from her mother and deal with Beale’s allergy. For me, when he drops Maisie off, I see perhaps for the first time, Beale’s humanity; that is, he genuinely looks upset at leaving Maisie. Mixed into this pain of his real loss is perhaps some inkling at just perhaps some shred of self-awareness, at his literal inability to be a father for Maisie, the moment before perhaps reaching something in him than even he can’t fully acknowledge. In one of many particularly interesting Maisie point of view shots, this point of view would seem to not have any particular pertinence. There is no point of view shot in this opening sequence but we do get Maisie’s emphasized gaze in this early moment, a moment that I think is important because it illustrates why Maisie does love her mother, because of tender moments such as this one. In a really despicable act, Susanna drops Maisie off at Lincoln’s work space with this explanation: “I am so sorry but I have… I got to go. Maisie introduces Lincoln to the class, tells them that he is her “new stepfather;” then she says something amusing but also telling: Maisie: “My father married my nanny, so court made my mommy get married, too.” This line by Maisie is one of the few revealing interior workings of Maisie’s mind that we get. Maisie and her classmates are taught how to keep their plants healthy, to give them exactly what they need to grow and thrive, a metaphor or mirroring of what Maisie lacks, nurturance and tender loving care. The Beginning of the End of Maisie’s Nightmare.
If someone hurt your animal or tried to be rich, (Maisie pauses to look at Lincoln, who seems happy about it but Susanna does not) they would be killed or put in jail.
This moment has a couple of interesting deeper meanings. Lincoln is a natural with children; like Margo, he finds a way to include Maisie in the activity, make it a bonding experience. That would be Margo and Lincoln! And here we begin to see the formation of this alternative “family” unit, where Maisie begins to choose her “parents,” her “love” of Lincoln becoming a de facto desire for him to be her “father.”.
As they are entering the court house, we can hear Susanna coaching Maisie, here again, a blatant attempt by Susanna to control Maisie, control her voice. Maisie comes to Lincoln and, unlike Beale just a moment before this, when he was on the phone with Maisie and apparently didn’t offer much if anything in the way of comfort for sick Maisie, Lincoln is so good with her, treating her in a way that actually suggests that he cares that she is sick! In a climactic confrontation, Sir Claude dispatches Maisie and Mrs. Wix back to England, promising never to abandon Maisie, although he seems to have returned to Ida, who, presumably, has no desire to have her gay life interrupted by the duties of caring for a young child.
There is another element here as well, in terms of the “time” element (“we don’t have time for that”), “time” in this sense signifying two crucial points, the more obvious point that Susanna and Beale don’t spend quality “time” with Maisie and bond with their child, but then the more crucial idea that “time” itself doesn’t really matter, it is how that time is spent that matters, that is what creates long lasting bonds and memories.
James claimed in the preface to this text in the New York edition that the entire interest of the tale lay in its being told as if from the point of view—though not in the language—of the child.
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