The “Clews” to Piece Together a Puzzle
“The Murder in the Rue Morgue”, written by Edgar Allan Poe, is a detective story with M. C. Auguste Dupin as the detective solving some mysterious murders in the Rue Morgue in Paris with his unnamed friend for the mere amusement of solving it. The short story was characterized by a first-person narration by the unnamed friend of M. Dupin, but for the most part of the mystery solving it was M. Dupin who did the narration to his friend.
By looking at an object at too close a distance, we tend to lose sight of the whole object, its beauty, relevance and purpose of being, at the expense of minutely scrutinizing its details. Just as in other detective stories, clues are pieces that one way or another fit together side by side to form a clear picture of the mystery at hand. As it seems, it then boils down as to how the detective appreciates the clues that he has gathered so as to be able to piece the puzzle together. Does he discard one clue because it is improbable? What does one clue have in common with another? Or does one clue have a direct relation, at all, to another?
This I have worked out after reading Poe’s work: in life, each of us is a detective and is presented with clues everyday as we go along our daily routines that may help us through our day. Prior to the actual narration of the main plot in the story, I was intrigued by the keen sense of observation that M. Dupin exhibited when he was able to deduce exactly what his friend was thinking of while they were walking about the streets of Paris one particular evening. M. Dupin made me think of how I observe people whom I interact with everyday and how I process these same observations (or clues) for my purposes.
Is the smile from the person sitting beside me, a complete stranger, on the bus this morning a mere proprietary greeting and implies that he wants to have a word with me to pass the time on the bus? Is the frown from my mom an indication that she is angry or just a reminder that although she is amused with what I was doing, it had better stopped immediately? These are some clues that I have noticed from other people as to their current states of mind. In the first case, that of a complete stranger, it would be rather hard to ascertain what the smile actually means. Since I do not know him personally, I do not know as to what background he is coming from. The most appropriate response I think would be to smile back and wait for him to start the conversation, if he had wanted one in the first place. With the case of my mom, it is a lot easier for me to distinguish what her frown actually means since I know her personally. Through the years, I have been able to observe some mannerism of hers that is associated to a particular feeling of hers. A frown coupled with crossed arms means I have to stop whatever it is I am doing because it annoys her and its making her angry at each moment. However, a frown along with the rolling of her eyes means that she is simply amused, but that I still should not push my luck too hard on her.
We are all detectives. Whether we like it or not, we have to interact with people everyday. As detectives, we can pick up clues given by other people for us to better interact with them. Some people may be outspoken but many others are not. Given the absence of a direct statement, we must observe, as keenly as possible, other clues like facial expression or body postures to name some. These clues, when coupled with others, can give us a good idea of another person’s mind, although probably not as clear an idea as M. Dupin’s on his friend.