The character, although not a religious terrorist per se, has a healthy respect / reverence for religion; however, the reasons he gives for perpetrating acts of terror are decidedly anti-religious and apolitical. Does this put him more in the category of other terrorists like the UNABOMBER? A “lone-wolf” terrorist so to speak?
Charm: Our character seemingly differentiates himself from such terrorists with the intellectual apparatus he uses to explain his actions. He is surely a lone-wolf terrorist, he himself admits to being such. However, he does acknowledge that he has “partners” right from the beginning too: those who are “in spirit” in support of his cause. Also, later on in the story, he acknowledges as his “brothers and sisters” those who are victims of the crimes of society: individuals, through no intention or fault of their own, are injured and failed by the system’s “winners.”
His interest in religion is, I would say, more of an escape from reality than anything. He is consoled by the service at mosque and by the fantastic possibility of an afterlife, even if he believes such a thing does not exist.
L.N.: But considering his respectful interest in religion, he confounds an easy classification. He acts alone, but likes to think that he is supported by others, albeit distantly. He also lacks the egotistical delusions that characterize most other lone wolves, unless his reference to those with him “in spirit” is seen as a delusion.
Is there meant to be a connection between the state-sponsored violence described by the character and the violence he personally experiences in his childhood?
Charm: There is a “trickle down” effect of violence, in that the state exercises violence upon the general population and this translates into classroom / schoolyard violence. The “bullies” and the “teachers” are both empowered in a sense that gives them a kind of “right” to use violence, even if this right is a fabrication concocted by its creators to excuse their own (mis)behavior. Violence experienced as a child is translated into the subtle, bureaucratic violence experienced as an adult. By “subtle” I mean the kind of violence we see done to victims of bad social policy, people who wait in line for years for affordable housing, individuals who are chronically “hardcore unemployable,” etc. Even though it is not anyone’s “responsibility” to care for such people, the state that ignores these problems or that delegates them to an endless chain of bureaucracy commits a slow violence, almost like torture.
7. Is the character doing “the wrong thing, for the right reason.”?
Charm: I do feel that there is some positivity in the act of terror if not its consequences. The positivity being simply a proof that rage is not dead. Although it is difficult to say what “the right thing” is, random terror solves nothing: it merely adds to the already disastrous heap of negativity. However, the narrator is not interested in social change, so his actions are not limited to the categories of “right” and “wrong.”
L.N.: His reasons are mixed; his personal sense of rage and his personal history of violation aren’t “right reasons” to murder innocent people. Because random terrorism only causes the state to exercise additional violence on the population in the form of controlling and intrusive security measures, his actions are counterproductive.