Watson as a rootless
Yes, well, I have the habit of making playlists about the characters that I love and the ships that I like a lot, so of course when I got addicted to ACD Holmes & Watson, they were not the exception, although of course, I hardly talk about it because most of my songs are like very contrasting with the victorian world, since I have songs like electro pop or shit like that hahahaha
But the lyrics to this song and the connection I see with Watson I think deserves to be mentioned, I warn that I will talk about several of my hc, knowing that let's start:
Marina and the diamonds- Rootless & Watson in A Study In Scarlet-Early time of the association with Holmes.
Fragments of the novel.
The title already suggests a lot about what we will talk about:
1. (of a plant) not having roots.
2. having no settled home or social or family ties.
And as far as I remember John H. Watson is not a plant, being rootless is a more than adequate adjective to describe the situation of the character at the beginning of the first book, in fact it is one of the first things the character tells us:
I had neither kith nor kin in England, and was therefore as free as air — or as free as an income of eleven shillings and sixpence a day will allow a man to be.
Meanwhile the song in its first verse tells us this fragment that reflects his emotions very well:
I'm a Cloud drifting by
Dripping Tears from the Sky
I'm a Snail without a Shell
A Leper with a golden Bell
I've got nowhere to go
Let us remember why Watson knows Holmes, because he needs a place to live, he is adrift, he arrived devastated from a war where he returned being someone very young with chronic pain, something to which it is difficult to adapt due to the changes and the impact that this causes in his life. He is alone and no have family -in this book we still did not know about his brother who in fact will return to that topic later-, he lives in a hotel, which is like the most impersonal place to live.
There are other interesting lines such as "A leper with a golden bell", remember at that time lepers were isolated in an extreme way, which tells us about a immense sense of isolation and Watson either for external reasons - his friends died in the war, his other friends forgetting him, his friends rejecting him - or his own reasons
-isolating himself for not feeling the same as he was, for being so weak, etc- was very lonely:
During the first week or so we had no callers, and I had begun to think that my companion was as friendless a man as I was myself.
...and I had no friends who would call upon me and break the monotony of my daily existence.
In general his life was quite dull and miserable:
The campaign brought honors and promotion to many, but for me it had nothing but misfortune and disaster
Before pronouncing judgment, however, be it remembered, how objectless was my life, and how little there was to engage my attention. My health forbade me from venturing out unless the weather was exceptionally genial, and I had no friends who would call upon me and break the monotony of my daily existence.
When he meets Holmes, I think a silent call to Watson is answered and this line of the song is expressed very well:
For a Root, for a Leaf, for a Branch, for a Tree
For Something, Somebody, that reminded them of Me
He wanted someone to notice him and that person would be Holmes but achieving that intimacy that they will have later is a difficult road, I always insist on noticing Watson's shyness at the beginning, because of course, although he can be a good conversationalist and someone nice as evidenced by his first coexistence with Holmes ... actually Watson is very suspicious of his privacy and this a trait that prevails in him for a long time.
The fact that it took him so long to ask Holmes about his job was, in my opinion, a way of avoiding two things:
1. Forming a bond of friendship.
2. Answer a question that he avoided asking himself.
Asking him his trade leads to Holmes doing the same, while Watson would only say "What do you do?" Holmes could ask him "And what will you do? Go back to being a doctor? Will you return to the army? Will you do something with your life?" -not because Holmes was actually going to say something like that but it was undeniable that if you ask someone for something,even it such a simple answer, that person has the right to ask you for something in return and that was terrifying for Watson-. Because he had no answer and because he was afraid to approach Holmes, despite the fact that he was so fascinated and interested in Holmes.
Even his initial disbelief although it is more than understandable, I think his annoyance with the article and his attempts to test Holmes' abilities - something that he will continue to do over the years - is because someone with Holmes' abilities was practically his worst nightmare.
Because with a glance he could know everything about him, discover all his secrets, in fact if both can maintain such a long friendship for many years it is because neither pressures for the other to reveal something private or personal, the fact that they mutually respect this reserve leads them to triumph in their relationship until we got to The Sign of the Four.
I firmly believe that Watson has loved Holmes from the minute their paths crossed but he never opened up to him and the revelation of the clock made him run away because his fears were fulfilled, in general I feel that before the hiatus , for Watson there were many protests to have such intimacy with Holmes, since he was a man & the homophobia of the time, bad self-perception, and perhaps a terror for giving himself so much to someone else that without that person he ends up adrift again - as in fact it will happen when SH "dies" - and this feeling probably increased dramatically when he learned of Holmes's addiction:
Lower Case Society
Tight to no Community
A Kingdom without a King
With no Sense of Belonging
Now as I said before this is more or less done with my headcanons and I have this strange theory that The Sign of the Four is simply the story of the future engagement between Mary & Watson -an undeniable fact to happen-, for me them had known each other a long time before, for other reasons, they liked each other and while she had greater ease in getting Watson to communicate with her, in many ways, she also represented a person with whom he felt comfortable, someone she loved and who in turn could not know everything about him with a glance, someone who although she had known him for some time, was far from knowing or being able to guess everything that SH had already done and therefore he would not cling to her so much, in addition to the most important detail Mary was not slowly murdering herself.
-Although Mary actually noticed a lot of things because she is observant and cunning but at the end of the day she doesn't spend her time reading Watson's thoughts like Holmes can-. So I place the clock scene as an event prior to what was said in the book and here comes Watson's brother, with this fragment of the song:
Running with my Roots pulled up
Caught me cold so they could cut
What there was left of love
I'm rootless, I'm rootless
Watson's family situation is a great mystery, but it is clear from his very often abrupt and disgruntled reaction at the time against Holmes' cocaine use, that his brother was someone very important to him and whose death affected him more than he let the rest of the world see.
Impotence is an emotion that may haunt Watson long before he decided to be a doctor or to enter the army - trades where impotence is very present - and the escape mechanism may also, because I think that's what happened with his brother, seeing him slowly consume himself without being able to help him, made Watson decide that he would not stay to see that great disaster, it was when he finally become a rootless, because he pulled out his roots as the song says:
Running with my roots pulled up
So they could cut me free of Love
"Cut me free of love", is an interesting phrase that says a lot about Watson, love was what made him suffer so much the decline of his brother and it was love for Holmes that made him suffer again when Watson saw him fall into the same self-destructive tendencies that the other person he loved the most suffered, this intolerable vision & the abrupt reliving of the memory and conflict of his brother - a matter that Watson had not been able to reconcile internally - made him flee, nip it in the bud any possible ties. And it was towards Mary because deep down as he did when he met Holmes, deep down he continues to dream that one day he will not have to cut off the love he feels for someone, that he could stop running to protect himself and her:
I have never looked upon a face which gave a clearer promise of a refined and sensitive nature.
"Clearer promise". Promise. Mary promised so much, she was a dear friend, a woman who enchanted and fascinated him, with whom little by little he fell in love, who gave him the support - without knowing it - that he needed to cut the roots with Holmes, who was, in turn, to return to somehow uproot the memory that haunted him from the brother he did not save, -in addition to Mary's past I think there was a very great feeling of identification in not having anyone and having to stand up for yourself-:
Tracking my Roots through the snow
No Home Sweet and no Sweet Home
I've got nowhere to go
I'm rootless, I'm rootless
So The Sign of the Four, it was a great farewell from the beginning, it was in turn a way in which he asked Holmes for help to heal the pain of the person he had chosen to take care of his heart, with the hope that she wouldn't break it again like Sherlock did.