This is where you can read the manhwa. https://www.lezhin.com/en/comic/painter But be aware that this manhwa is a mature Yaoi, which means, it is about homosexuality with explicit scenes.
Funny is that on the same day of the release of the chapter 46, I posted my essay titled “Dreams” and explained that Baek Na-Kyum had no dream any longer, meaning that he had no goal in life. The chapter 46 mirrors this interpretation, as it’s in the center of the focus in this chapter. The episode 46 questions the painter’s future, but this time it is from the artist’s perspective: « What am I going to do and where am I going to live? »
What caught my attention is that in this chapter the chronology is out of order. We have past, present and future all together. This mixture of different timelines in the same scene is relevant for different reasons. First it outlines the confused painter’s state of mind. Secondly it characterizes the importance of the past altering the present and future. It illustrates how the past affects the protagonist so much so that his future changes. Moreover this irregularity of the timeline shows the change in the relationship between the characters. But now it’s time to analyze closer the chapter.
First we see the artist playing with the snow by building snowmen ⛄️. This gesture illustrates the low-born’s innocence. He still hasn’t left his childhood behind. Sure, he wanted to help the servants in the first place but he wasn’t allowed. The head servant of the kitchen asked him to play but fact is that he was the one who chose such an occupation. There’s still innocence in him despite the pain and the experienced abandonment.
Besides, notice that building a snowman is related to drawing. This illustrates the artist’s creativity and how important painting means to him. He needs to create something with his hands. Striking is that he is also building two snowmen and not just one. This could be random but I feel that since there is no such coincidence in Byeonduck’s work, this could be perceived as the low-born’s unconscious wish of companionship. He feels lonely, however he desires to have someone by his side.
Now, if we pay a closer look at one snowman, we’ll notice that it reflects the artist’s inner feelings. The face expresses mixed feelings, since the eyes are expressing a certain sadness, while there is a glimpse of a smile on the mouth. The painter’s heartache has not completely disappeared, but the agony has diminished. The size of the eyes is quite interesting. The logical explication is that Baek Na-Kyum couldn’t find stones of the same size, yet I can’t help myself giving it a deeper signification. This symbolizes the transformation of Baek Na-Kyum, he is between childhood and adulthood. The small eye refers to the childhood and as such the candidness, and the bigger one to the adulthood, as he is now able to comprehend better the world and its reality (inspired by the saying getting a bigger picture). Through the bad experience (abandonment by the teacher), he is disillusioned but not to the point where he has lost his innocence definitely. That’s why I interpret that the future attempted assassination will become a real wake-up call and will mark the pivotal moment in the painter’s life. He will lose his purity for good, his worldview will change forever. Like I said before, the painter hasn’t perceived the teacher’s true personality and his real intentions behind his harsh words. He hasn’t grasped that the scholar was so jealous and envied him that he felt the need to destroy him with his words. He still thinks that what Jung In-Hun said was correct. Later, I’ll explain the reasons for this mindset. But let’s get back to the snowman.
This occupation reveals that the painter is enjoying the moment, he is more focused on the present, hence he is able to smile while creating the second snowman. He is under the influence of the Latin saying “carpe diem” (enjoy the day).This illustrates that the commoner is trying to avoid to think about his future. This doesn’t surprise us, when the servant Deok-Jae appears and destroys his work. He can’t comprehend the harshness in the domestic’s behavior and comments. He is left speechless, feels uncomfortable hence he is sweating. Notice that while the servant kept criticizing him, he never said anything to his defense. This outlines what I explained in the essay “An easy conquest”, he is not able to express himself due to the loss of his ex-mentor and guru. Furthermore, there is another reason for his silence. He somehow believes what the jealous domestic is saying. He still views himself as a low-born and even worse, as a prostitute. The fact that he wanted to stay in the backyard with the staff shows his longing to be perceived as a servant. He feels like a prostitute but he would like to be treated like a servant so that his special position would not be detected. He feels really embarrassed, when the head maid from the kitchen outlines his special status. All this displays that he feels out of place, as if he had no real belonging. He is neither a master (he has no topknot) nor a low-born. His ambiguous situation, which was portrayed in the chapter 45, is mirrored here too, yet this time it is shown how Baek Na-Kyum feels about his unclear status. He has the impression that he is a prostitute. He is already too bothered and embarrassed about his ambiguous situation that’s why he can’t think about his own future.
Because he wanted to help, the head servant understood the painter’s reasoning and feelings hence she let him stay in the backyard. On the other hand, she couldn’t allow him to work like a servant because she knew how her master would have reacted to this situation. She had been told that the painter was no longer authorized to eat in the kitchen with the other servants. His status had been elevated by the lord. He is his partner hence he can no longer be perceived as a servant. The fact that he is no longer wearing his white headband illustrates that Seungho doesn’t recognize him as a commoner but as his lover. I would say that since he has no topknot, his status reminds me of a concubine, although it is quite obvious that for the seme, Baek Na-Kyum is his wife. From my point of view, the lord is changing his status little by little, the closer they get. Remember that there is a lack of trust between Seungho and the painter. The noble has no idea why the artist chose to give in, hence he asked in the episode 45. However I explain the sudden order from Yoon Seungho as a consequence of the “love confession” in the chapter 45. The more Baek Na-Kyum is opening up, the more Seungho is showing his true colors, intentions. But the trust is based on shaking grounds. In reality, the “I like- My lord” is a misunderstanding, on the other hand the chapter 46 reveals that Baek Na-Kyum is indeed leaning more and more on the noble, as he has no home any longer. The first reason why I associate the painter’s status to the one of a concubine is that he has no topknot like Seungho. If he had one, he could be considered as a master. Secondly, they still don’t eat together hence has the servant as companion. Finally they still don’t share the same bed during the night. They might have sex on the red and yellow bed, however they don’t sleep together during the night. Their intimacy has not reached its peak yet.
Notice that during the altercation between Deok-Jae, the head maid of the kitchen and Baek Na-Kyum, the present, past and future were here mixed, like I mentioned above. The domestic resented the painter for playing in the backyard because he had the impression that Baek Na-Kyum was showing off. In the former’s opinion, he is a low-born, nonetheless he doesn’t need to work, he can just play. The suggestion of the head maid didn’t help the artist in the end as it increased the prejudice and the resent Deok-Jae had about the favored servant. Besides, the jealous man pointed out that the “favored servant” wasn’t a master at the moment, but he could be perceived as one due the privileges the artist has. Yet the envious man was somehow making fun about this (“might”), as if this idea was so ridiculous and impossible. Notice that at no moment, the painter spoke for himself, defending his actions and his innocence indicating that what Deok-Jae said about him was how he views himself. He has such a low self-esteem. He didn’t voice one complain (even the destruction of the snowmen), he let the domestic criticize him because he even feels lower than the servants: he is indeed a prostitute. That’s why he can’t think about his future and he is not even focused on his painting too. Hence the readers saw no new painting in his bedroom. The paper is blank and the artist is focusing on masturbating. He has no inspiration, no motivation. Even the sex with Seungho is not motivating him at all. This picture symbolizes the confusion and the sense of loss of the painter. It was as if his passion for painting had been lost by the teacher’s words: he is just a prostitute. That’s why he can’t think about his own future because even in the present, he feels empty.
That’s where I would like to end this first part. I have more to say but this will be written later.
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