... my mother wrote the following to me in an email response to the previous blog entry and I want to share it, it's good...
...thanks mom...Is it too simplistic to think this is a coming-of-age story for Richard? Although plenty old enough in years, Richard starts the story awfully immature in all the areas you mentioned (responsibility, self-direction, purpose, etc.) He (to an almost self-destructive effect) allows his dreaminess, his not paying attention to the real life of a grown up, to sabotage the things he does believe he values--Jessica, for one. In a way, to me, he starts out as a Boy.
Because of his Good Heart (he certainly does not seem to be thinking, deliberating, choosing), acting on instinct only, on "a feeling" only, he rescues Door. A more grown-up "old" man would not have done this. Jessica (as I recall) has a list of sensible alternatives to get the girl cared for and the two of them on with their adult life full of adult plans and responsibilities. Grown-up men cannot risk behavior like Richard's--to scoop up in your arms a strange girl from off the street (strange, dirty girl) walk away from your fiancé and install this girl in your bachelor apartment. Once done, this simple act starts him off on a quest from which there is no return.
Coming-of-age is also a no-return deal. You just relentlessly forge ahead, meet those various demons and challenges, some of them disguised, to cope with and conquer as best you can. In the very end, he cannot return to his former hum-drum paper-pushing life because it is a Boy's life and he is now a Man.
In the back of the book there's a short interview with NG in which he says that this story is a lot about the homeless people in London and that the Underground was always going to be the setting. He also says "I wanted to write a story about someone growing up and changing." and this really makes the story very meaningful to me.