Macleod’s characterization of Archibald in “The Tuning of Perfection” is of a man whose life is sustained by personal hard work and the memories of the times gone by with his wife and even before then- of a faltering culture. His character represents an individual in a world where the construction and maintenance of a social and cultural identity is becoming a perplexing but confronting actuality. Archibald is aware and possibly slightly perturbed about the new world that is emerging and is an example of someone who is not, in a sense, navigating the global. He represents the possible extremities of localization and as the world beneath him changes, he remains the unchanging presence, biding his time but his values, beliefs and sense of righteousness remain enduring and unvaried by the transformation below due to his sense of detachment in a psychological, spatial and cultural sense.
The tone of the story is quite somber and broaches the possession of nihilistic qualities. It conveys a sense of loss and the self-destructive nature of humanity which threatens existence itself through the debasing and devaluation of higher values. In “the tuning of perfection” this self destructive trait is exceedingly powerful and is seen through the juxtaposition of Archibald and the wife he holds so dear against everyone else around them- from their very own children to strangers such as the man who buys the mare. The sense of desertion and alienation of Archibald is evident through the tone of the story as we witness a man, unwilling to change, unwilling to navigate the ever-changing global and thus left behind (arguably) by those who we generally associate with closeness. Here Macleod highlights the meaninglessness of existence and the path of coping with the self-destructive awareness that Archibald has gained over the years- that has proven to be an acerbic acquisition.
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