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Thomson and Thompson: What is their relationship, if any?

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jock123
Moderator
#51 · Posted: 19 Apr 2012 15:39 · Edited by: jock123
mct16:
the flat they share together in Europe

They share a flat – surely not?
Don’t Thompson and Thomson live separately, at home with their wives, Sara and Sarah, in Ottegem and Ottergem…? ;-)
Balthazar
Moderator
#52 · Posted: 19 Apr 2012 17:25
mct16:
As I recall, the only scene that shows them sleeping in bed in a normal room is in "Prisoners of the Sun" and I don't think that really counts...

... this scene quite likely takes place in a hotel room in Peru

You're quite right and I stand corrected. The fact that they're shown in separate beds in this scene tells us even less about their possible sexuality than I'd thought, since, as you say, it doesn't even tell us whether they normally sleep in separate beds.

This being the case, and since I think you're right that we never see anything of their actual home-lives, I guess all possibilities are wide open. They might live together and sleep together in a double bed; they might live together and sleep in the same room in twin beds; they might live together and sleep in separate rooms; they might live at completely separate addresses as bachelors; or, as Jock suggests, they might live at completely separate addresses as married men.

The first possibility I've listed would suggest they were a gay couple (though not absolutely proving it). And the last possibility would suggest that they're both heterosexual (though not absolutely proving it either). And none of the other possibilities in between would really tell anything conclusive about their sexuality or relationship at all.

To be honest, I think the most likely version of their relationship is that they're full biological twins, or at least brothers, simply because the fact that their physical features are almost identical seems to me to be a bigger factor than the difference in surname spelling. In other words, twins who for some reason have chosen to use different spellings for their surname and refer to each other by these surnames seems just a bit less odd and unlikely than two unrelated people who work together just happening by some massive coincidence to look almost identical.

But no explanation really provides a complete and conclusive explanation of all the known facts about them, which I guess is why the gay doppleganger couple interpretation doesn't seem that much more out of the question than other possibilities.
mct16
Member
#53 · Posted: 19 Apr 2012 18:33
Balthazar:
they might live together and sleep in separate rooms;

I'm for that possibility.

In "Crab with the Golden Claws", they do say to Tintin "venez chez nous" ("come to our place") in order to look at the file they have on the issue of the fake coinage. I think that they would have specified if it was just a common office that they shared rather than a flat.
jock123
Moderator
#54 · Posted: 19 Apr 2012 23:09
mct16:
I think that they would have specified if it was just a common office that they shared rather than a flat.

Why? If the place that was common to them was an office, rather than a flat, that would be “their place” – it would actually be specifying that it wasn’t the flat of one or other of them.
Balthazar
Moderator
#55 · Posted: 20 Apr 2012 01:00 · Edited by: Balthazar
jock123:
If the place that was common to them was an office, rather than a flat, that would be “their place”

I suppose the term "our place" could be an abbreviation for "our shared place of work within one of our flats", but surely it usually denotes "our home". And similarly, I think (with my wholly inadequate knowledge of French) that mct16 is correct in suggesting that the term chez nous suggests "our home" as in where they both live, and wouldn't be commonly used to refer to an office, even a home office.

If that is the case, I was incorrect to say earlier that we never see anything of their home life and it would seem that in 1940 at least they did share a home, rather than live separately. But that wouldn't rule out the possibility of them later moving into separate houses to live lives of wedded bliss with Sara and Sarah, as you suggest. (Or of course in partnered bliss with Stephen and Steven. The possibility that they are gay but aren't a couple, merely colleagues, is yet another permutation we haven't yet considered!)
mct16
Member
#56 · Posted: 20 Apr 2012 01:20
Balthazar:
But that wouldn't rule out the possibility of them later moving into separate houses to live lives of wedded bliss with Sara and Sarah, as you suggest. (Or of course in partnered bliss with Stephen and Steven.

I think our permutations are getting a little out-of-hand, aren't they? So much for moderation. LOL ;)
jock123
Moderator
#57 · Posted: 20 Apr 2012 07:43
Balthazar:
surely it usually denotes "our home".

Only if there is a shared home to designate as “our place”…

Imagine you have just run into Mr. Fortnum and Mr. Mason while strolling along Piccadilly, and in the course of conversation, they invite you to “their place”. Would you a) assume that they had ditched their wives and set up home together, or b) think, “Oh, we’re going to the shop at number 181?”

Actually, I think thinking of them as a couple of any sort, other than in terms of their vocation, loses too much of the original intent: Hergé made them virtual clones to play off the stereotype of the bourgeoise fonctionnaire, much as MAgritte did. They don’t look alike because they are brothers, related or anything like that: they look alike because they are “the man”, the Governement, the faceless cogs in the (inefficient) machine of state.
It would be revealing enough if Hergé had used the real-life often reproduced illustration of the two similar (but unrelated) detectives from the police magazine as his source; if, as Hergé claimed, he hadn’t seen that picture, then the stereotrype gains an even greater sense of truth, by showing that Belgian detectives (like J. Edgar Hoover’s crew-cut, straw-boater wearing FBI men) did in fact look alike…
mct16
Member
#58 · Posted: 20 Apr 2012 12:01
In the general sense of the word "chez nous" does mean "our place" as in a place where people live. If they were inviting Tintin to police HQ then they would have more likely have said "a notre bureau" ("to our office").

Having a flatmate in a platonic relationship is not unusual. Look at Holmes and Watson who live together until Watson gets married.
Balthazar
Moderator
#59 · Posted: 20 Apr 2012 18:27
jock123:
Imagine you have just run into Mr. Fortnum and Mr. Mason while strolling along Piccadilly, and in the course of conversation, they invite you to “their place”. Would you a) assume that they had ditched their wives and set up home together, or b) think, “Oh, we’re going to the shop at number 181?”

OK, fair point. I concede that if you own a business, especially one with your names above the door, you might well refer to the business premises affectionately or proudly as "our place/chez nous". Similarly, restaurants sometimes call themselves things like Chez Jules or Joe's Place, to denote a homely, personal feel and to suggest it's run with pride and warmth by a chef-proprietor who regards customers as personal guests.

If the Thom[p]sons were working in the capacity of private detectives running their own business, I can certainly see that they might well refer to their office as "our place/chez nous". However, given that they seem to be employees of some branch of the police force, would they refer to their work office that way unless it was also located in some sort of shared home? But I accept that the nature of their office is rather vague, and that as with everything else about the Thom[p]sons, multiple interpretations are valid!

mct16:
Having a flatmate in a platonic relationship is not unusual. Look at Holmes and Watson who live together until Watson gets married.

Oh, absolutely. I think we've established that whether or not the Thom[p]sons share a flat isn't in itself indicative of whether or not they're a gay couple. I think in the last few posts we've just been arguing (enjoyably I hope!) whether the dialogue in the Crab with the Golden Claws rules out he possibility that they're living apart.

jock123:
Actually, I think thinking of them as a couple of any sort, other than in terms of their vocation, loses too much of the original intent: Hergé made them virtual clones to play off the stereotype of the bourgeoise fonctionnaire, much as Magritte did. They don’t look alike because they are brothers, related or anything like that: they look alike because they are “the man”, the Governement, the faceless cogs in the (inefficient) machine of state.
It would be revealing enough if Hergé had used the real-life often reproduced illustration of the two similar (but unrelated) detectives from the police magazine as his source; if, as Hergé claimed, he hadn’t seen that picture, then the stereotrype gains an even greater sense of truth, by showing that Belgian detectives (like J. Edgar Hoover’s crew-cut, straw-boater wearing FBI men) did in fact look alike…

I agree. That's kind of what I meant a few posts above by them being archetypes without a life outside the frames of the strip. That was certainly Hergé's intent when he created them and in their earliest appearances. But as the Thom[p]sons become less two-dimensional and more likeable, and as the books become more sophisticated, with Hergé often implying all sorts of social and personal undercurrents between various characters (look at the implied stuff going on between Sponz and Castafiore between the Calculus Affair and Picaros, for instance), it doesn't seem to be going completely against Hergé's intent as a mature author/cartoonist to wonder about the Thom[p]sons' unseen homelife.

I think Hergé was right to never reveal much about the Thom[p]son's backgrounds or domestic arrangements; it would have rather spoiled the surrealness of the characters. But I don't think he'd have minded us enjoying speculating.
gorfdota
Member
#60 · Posted: 5 Nov 2013 14:45
I think Jock 123 is right. The joke is whether the Thom(p)sons have a sexuality at all. First and foremost they are their job, while being staid and respectable. They get into all sorts of ridiculous situations because they try to do what they consider to be their job, while attempting to preserve their respectability. So, if need be, they would have even gone over to overt homosexuality if that would have furthered the solution of any of their cases.

Isn't it strange that Herge, while being rather on the conservative side, reserved the full strength of his ridicule for that bastion of order, the police?

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