“A Brain Pickled by Testosterone…”

Guest Post by Shannon

An extract from All That Remains by Patricia Cornwell

I don’t think I had been in my job more than several days when I met him for the first time. I was in the morgue performing an autopsy when a big man with an impassive face walked in and positioned himself on the other side of the table. I remembered feeling his cool scrutiny, I had the uncomfortable sensation he was dissecting me as thoroughly as I was dissecting my patient.

“So you’re the new chief.”

He had posed the comment as a challenge, as if daring me to acknowledge that I believed I could fill a position never before held by a woman.

“I’m Dr. Scarpetta,” I had replied. “You’re with Richmond City, I assume?”

He had mumbled his name, then waited in silence while I removed several bullets from his homicide case and receipted them to him. He strolled off without so much as a “good-bye” or “nice to meet you,” by which point our professional rapport had been established. I perceived he resented me for no cause other than my gender, and in turn I dismissed him as a dolt with a brain pickled by testosterone. In truth, he had secretly intimidated the hell out of me. It was hard for me to look at Marino now and imagine I had ever felt him threatening. He looked old and defeated, shirt straining across his big belly, wisps of graying hair unruly, brow drawn in what was neither a scowl nor a frown but a series of deep creases caused by the erosion of chronic tension and displeasure.

What impression of the man is created by the authors description of him and his actions?

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13 thoughts on ““A Brain Pickled by Testosterone…”

  1. Brittney says:

    i feel the impression created of the man is a man who is old and very intimidatng and sexit almost because in the passage it says ” i perceived he resented me for no cause other then my gender”, and also a man who doesnt take a likeing to people easily as stated ” he strolled off without so much as a good-bye or nice to meet you”

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  2. Samu says:

    The man could’ve not been yet accustomed to the fact that a woman was capable of being awarded a higher position than a man. He came off as prideful and arrogant as he hardly could fully acknowledged her. The phrase “brain pickled by testosterone” tells how the woman thought of this man to be a typical man who had an ego that skyrocketed so high and could not get over the fact that she was chief. In the line “series of deep creases caused by the erosion of chronic tension and displeasure” we are given an almost justified reason as to why this man was often found to have such an unpleasant look on his face, which gives him a much aged appearance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. weareoxymorons says:

      very good, Samu! That word “pickled” is also very effective! Gives us a sense that his brain was stuck in this state of high testosterone and male ego for some time, don’t you think?

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  3. Carolyne says:

    By his refusal to acknowledge that in this day and age women could be just as good as me he seems to be a man who believes in the old ways of doing things. As he walks in the writer uses the word “big” to describe him as opposed to saying something like he was “he was an overweight man “. The effect that this creates is that this man as he walks into the room demands attention because of his size. He is also quite rude as he doesn’t bother with the common curtsies of thing such as “nice to meet you”. When the writer used “chronic tension and displeasure” to describe the final look on the man’s face it gives the readers the impression that this man live a sad life even though he seem to enjoy looking down upon others.

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  4. Daphine says:

    The man described in the passage seems to believe that one gender is superior than another, and in this case he views the job that the female doctor is performing only meant for males. This is shown when Patricia Cornwell says “He had posed the question as a challenge as if daring me to acknowledge that l believed l could fill a position never before held by a woman”. This makes me view this man as very old because nowadays the world is slowly acknowledging that women too can carry out the same jobs as men do. The writer describes the man’s face as impassive which gives an image of an emotionless man. In the last paragraph the writer gives a very detailed description of the man as being old, has a big belly and has grey hair, his face is desribed as creased which gives the reader an image of an very old man.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Precious Munyaka says:

    His a very strict and busy man. Always up to date with everything and he could be very hard to get used to if you are a sensitive person.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Leah says:

    The impression created was that he is a sexist person who believes that he is superior to her because he is a man. I get this impression because he seems to be judging what sh his doing and doesn’t seem to believe that she is capable of doing her job, as she says that when he asked if she was the new chief it wasn’t a genuine question but instead a “challenge”. She says, ” daring me to acknowledge that I believed I could fill a position never before held by a woman”. He comes off as arrogant and he doesn’t say thank you or anything so he obviously believes that he is better than her or could do a better job.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jamie says:

    Its creates an effect that the man is sexist, “I had the uncomfortable sensation he was dissecting me as thoroughly as I was dissecting my patient.” could mean that he was intimidating. The phrase “he resented me” shows that the man almost didn’t even acknowledge the fact that she was there and he was cocky in showing his actions towards the girl, almost as if he was superior to everyone else.

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