Tintin Forums

Tintinologist.org Forums / Official Tintin books /

Calculus Affair: How would the Captain rinse his mouth?

cigars of the beeper
#1 · Posted: 14 Mar 2009 14:05
I'm sure you all remember on page 10 when Captain Haddock is brushing his teeth and the mirror splinters before his eyes. He runs into the hallway on page 12 and meets Tintin, and because he has toothpaste in his mouth, he can't talk clearly. Tintin then brings a glass of water, but what I'm wondering is what Tintin meant for him to do with it. Toothpaste is not meant for consumption, so surely Tintin didn't want him to drink it, but he definitely wouldn't want the Captain to take the water into his mouth and then spit it out onto the floor. Why didn't Tintin just tell him to go back into the bathroom and rinse his mouth? After all, on page 10 you can see a cup sitting in front of the mirror.
#2 · Posted: 14 Mar 2009 16:37
I can't imagine that swallowing toothpaste is exactly going to do him any harm, so under the circumstances that is what I imagine he did.

I'm not certain how else you could imagine anyone answering anything else, to be honest - if he spat it on the floor, or out the window, or into the fireplace, would it make any difference?

It certainly wouldn't have added anything to the story if there had been frames devoted to Tintin advising the Captain to rinse his mouth, and then him going there, etc.

It's interesting that you draw attention to the artifice of the comic-book story, as it shows what the reader will accept without implicit direction: it can be assumed that the Captain resolved the toothpaste problem, it just doesn't have to be shown.
#3 · Posted: 14 Mar 2009 18:01
The glass is a prop which is introduced in order to be broken and not in order to be used.

Herge is primarily concerned with setting up the gag. He therefore overlooks - wittingly or unwittingly - any other course of events (i.e. the glass not shattering, Haddock rinsing out his mouth but having nowhere to spit out the water).

The reader, like the characters, is caught by surprise when the glass shatters and is unlikely to think through alternative outcomes and spot the minor incongruity (attempting to rinse out one's mouth in the corridor).

And perhaps the answer lies here: one could argue that Tintin (rather than Herge) is not thinking clearly - after all he is concerned by Haddock's agitated state.

Perhaps, therefore, Herge's "error" should be interpreted as a very subtle instance of "realism".

[Haddock could of course have spat the water back into the glass after rinsing out his mouth - although this would hardly be elegant !]

Please be sure to familiarize yourself with the Forum Posting Guidelines.

Disclaimer: Tintinologist.org assumes no responsibility for any content you post to the forums/web site. Staff reserve the right to remove any submitted content which they deem in breach of Tintinologist.org's Terms of Use. If you spot anything on Tintinologist.org that you think is inappropriate, please alert the moderation team. Sometimes things slip through, but we will always act swiftly to remove unauthorised material.


 Forgot password?
Please log in to post. No account? Create one!