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ande
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The ENTIRE Feather Man Discussion

[ Edited ]

Dear Book Explorers:

 

Once again, my thanks for taking the time to request and then read Feather Man, by Rhyll McMaster. That was quite the pre-discussion discussion!

 

Phew –- where to start?? I must say I don’t usually read with a pencil or highlighter in hand but found myself madly scribbling along the edges of the pages. The combined power of Rhyll McMaster’s descriptive and insightful prose along with Sooky’s abuse, suffering and isolation spurred me to react.

 

I started writing on Page 55 –- the aptly named “Sanctuary” chapter -- probably out of relief that Sooky had at least one place where she felt loved and protected. Finally some normal people! And most of the rest of the pages of the first section of the book are filled my notations as well.

 

Some thoughts:

 

Sooky’s isolation

 

Sooky is a child and she is not only trapped in a situation not of her making, namely being sexually abused by Lionel, her extraordinarily creepy neighbor, but also she is held captive by her parents’ dysfunctional marriage. Her mother, trapped in her own 1950s housewife prison is consumed with chores and anxiety. She is blind not only to the horror show unfolding next door but also to her daughter’s basic needs. Sooky is perfect prey for Lionel. There is no one paying attention, no one to save her, no one to protect her.

 

Rosie appears to come close to blowing the whistle, but disappears (is it just that it’s the 50s and sex abuse was a taboo topic or did Rosie, self-absorbed on her best days, just want to get away as fast as she could?). And there is that one lost opportunity when Sooky’s mother grills her about why she doesn’t want to spend time at Dolly and Lionel’s.

 

The author has drawn an extraordinary portrait of Sooky’s internal and external lives. This child is caught the web of abuse and suffers from what those of us living in 2008 have been educated to recognize: abusers convince their victims that what is happening is their fault to keep them from telling. Sooky knows something isn’t right in her life and Sooky has a voice. Sadly it is an inner one and no one is listening.

 

 

Lionel

 

Okay, so we find out that Lionel was traumatized in the war and damaged beyond repair. Someone might want to speak up on his behalf but that person will not be me. Lionel is vile -– McMaster has created one of the most disgusting villains ever. Pick on someone your own size, Mister.

 

Dolly

 

Does she know what Lionel is up to? Lionel’s wife lives in a walking coma. Is she numb from denial and/or paralyzed from marriage to a beast? Dolly: Great name for a sheep-like character – well done, Rhyll.

 

Brisbane in the ‘50s

 

Anyone out there (besides the author) know what Brisbane, Australia, was like in the 1950s? I sense that the isolation Sooky experienced was geographical as well. If anyone can give us a fuller picture that would be great as I would like to be able to place Sooky’s life in context.

 

The presence of loving grownups

 

What happened to Sooky is a very sensitive topic for some of you, as we discovered in our pre-discussion discussion. I would like to say that while I didn’t have a picture-perfect childhood one thing I did have was a lot of eyes on me at all times. As I child I thought it was oppressive, but Sooky’s story makes me realize how blessed I was to have a house filled with three generations of family (including my always-available and always-loving grandparents upstairs) and a neighborhood full of mothers and fathers who watched out for me as fiercely as they would one of their own.

 

Okay, Book Explorers, it’s your turn to talk now.

 

Ande

 

 

 

 

 

Message Edited by ande on 09-01-2008 06:08 PM
Message Edited by ande on 10-14-2008 11:24 AM
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Re: Feather Man Discussion, Part 1 (Lionel) -- pages 13-107

One thing that I would like to mention up front, that I would like to see a thread on, for us all to share, is the slang, or some of the Aussie lingo or places or terms that at times got me so lost! It got better for me as I went along, but at first I was running into a lot of words or phrases, that I pretty much guessed what they were but it did cause a distraction at first to just try to figure out what the author is saying, literally lol. The more I got into the rhythm of the book, I did better but there were terms later on that had me stumped a bit, which was slowing down what seems to be a great book. Very poetic at times. Could we have a thread about words?? Thanks.
Vivian
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Re: Feather Man Discussion, Part 1 (Lionel) -- pages 13-107

This book really hit home for me in many ways. I was born at the end of the 50s, lived in a small town and was sexually abuse from ages 5 -13. Ande, sometimes it doesn't matter if you have family in the house. My Lionel was in my own family! Actually two people in my immediate family. And as you say, back then, for me the 60s as a child, you did not have people to talk to about it, no one talked about it. People today can say, well your parents should have known, they had to have known. That is not always true, maybe it is more today because of all the talk about it, but not then and not if they were self absorbed.

 

Lionel to me, is just plain nasty. He is filthy, not only in what he does, but what he says, thinks, and also just in general hygiene. Even that freaked me out. I was pretty disturbed by the assault but what I found interesting to me, giving my own experiences, was where it took place, in the filthy chicken coop or whatever that was. It made it sound more dark and sinister even, if thats possible.

 

Dolly is in her own dream world and yeah she knows and may not like it but isn't going to fight over it. Even if she is ill, or old, to me that makes her an accomplice. My mother really didn't want to know anything that would mean she would actually have to do something drastic, like intervene, or heaven forbid leave and make it on her own with kids, so the little hints I tried to drop at first, so very young, she didn't get and probably didn't want to, so who do you tell then?

 

As for a safe place. I sure understand that. I had two, one was just get out of the house, so when you are that little, that mostly meant school and it was a haven for me of people, adults watching over me. The other was something that I really didn't realize it had been one for me until I was working on my degree in psychology and then I thought back to it, where did I feel comfortable and safe, and that was the livingroom couch! To this day, I still take better naps on the couch than in bed. Thinking back my mother used to get onto me about napping on the couch all the time. She would tell me to go to my own bed. But see, thats where things happen at night, so you stay hypervigilant all night. Then I needed a nap during the day and think about it, the safest place is right in plain sight of everyone, the livingroom couch!

 

My teachers told my mother that I was one of the most well adjusted kids they had ever taught! She goes back to that to this day when she talks about why she didn't see it. Once I said, what I really was, was the most well adaptive kid they knew. You learn what you need to survive. Sooky is trying to do that, find out where and how to be safe and how to adapt in order to do that.

 

Very interesting book, dark start and as I said, got lost in some of the Aussie lingo but interesting and emotional book at this point.

Vivian
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Re: Feather Man Discussion, Part 1 (Lionel) -- pages 13-107

There was something, besides the obvious, that really bothered me in this first part of the book, While I felt intellectually horrified for Sooky's situation, I felt emotionally disconnected from her. This bothered me about myself.

I am not at all unfamiliar with children that have been abused. For several years I worked as a child counselor in a residential treatment facility where the majority of the children had been physically and sexually abused in the most horrific manner. Nor is this the first book I have read with this subject matter. But it was the first time where I felt little emotional connection to the character.

I am wondering if it was the way the book was written. Could it be that in order for Ryll to write this, she had to be emotionally disconnected, especially if she is writing from experience? Maybe I picked up on that. Or possibly I am a horrible person. Did anyone else have  a similiar experience?

But I did absolutely loathe Lionel and also didn't care much for any of the adults in her life.

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Re: Feather Man Discussion, Part 1 (Lionel) -- pages 13-107

I struggled with the abuse that Sooky endured because I, too, was sexually abused as a child. I connected to Sooky's sense of invisibility. Yes, her mother berated her constantly, her father spoke sarcastically to her, Dolly tolerated her presence, and Lionel used her as a pawn in his sexual dysfunction....but no one saw or knew Sooky. I was often told growing up that I was "so responsible, no one had to really worry about me", yet they were unaware that I was molested repeatedly for a year and a half, that I never cried despite situations that occurred, that I loathed my birthday every year, etc., etc. No one had to "worry" about me, so no one learned about who I was.

 

As I read this part of the book, I despised Dolly for offering Sooky up as a sacrifice to her disgusting husband, Lionel. In my opinion, Dolly knew what was going on and allowed it to happen, merely to avoid having to reciprocate his sexual advances. I also wondered if the mother had her own sexual hang-ups or if she had been molested as a child as well. She came so close to "guessing" the reason why Sooky didn't want to spend time at the neighbors and then she shut down. Perhaps the thought of rescuing Sooky would have left the Mother in a position where she was further isolated and left with her less than appealing husband as her only company. Perhaps the Mother couldn't face her own past demons, so simply squashed them further inside herself, thus squashing the pain that Sooky was suffering as well. And, not only might Mother have had some issues from her childhood, but think about what she would have to admit to herself if she had given Sooky the opportunity to talk --she would have had to admit her own failure as a mother. Talk about taking a close look in the mirror. 

 

Avoidance seems to be the running theme in this section of the book. Mother is avoiding her duty of parenting. Father is avoiding Sooky and using his attempts at sarcasm and snottiness to avoid true conversation with his wife. Dolly is avoiding Lionel, by offering Sooky to him. Lionel's daughter-in-law (Rosie, right?) avoids being Sooky's hero by hightailing it out of town when things got a little too close for comfort for her and Lionel's own son leaves to avoid facing the truth about his father, thus avoiding his duty to protect and defend his wife. 

 

Debbook--- I don't think you are a horrible person for feeling emotionally disconnected from Sooky. Sometimes emotional disconnect is the only way we can survive the evil that we are confronted with. And, as far as I was concerned, Rhyll McMaster was able to create evil with the written word when she created Lionel. Personally, I would have welcomed a little bit of emotional disconnect when reading Feather Man. Unfortunately for me, my memory is excellent and I can recall my own abuse without the help of a book like this...and reading a book like this jumpstarted my memory to the point that I had to put the book down several times after reading just a few pages. 

 

 

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Re: Feather Man Discussion, Part 1 (Lionel) -- pages 13-107

debbook,

you know its not because you are a horrible person because you are not. My initial problems and kind of disconnect was because of the language, the unfamiliar words, phrases and such that I had to work around and so it did kind of distance me from the emotions of it, when you have to analyze a bit of the writing. I found myself wondering if the author had written this with American slang and things I was used to, if I would have felt more into it.

 

And what is the deal with the worms??? Is that a common problem there, getting worms and how they treated them? Between that and chook crap (my first word of huh? tho you figure that one out really quick) , etc. I just was thinking, these are some nasty people! lol When I should have been thinking about Sooky. Just a bit of culture shock I guess.

 


debbook wrote:

There was something, besides the obvious, that really bothered me in this first part of the book, While I felt intellectually horrified for Sooky's situation, I felt emotionally disconnected from her. This bothered me about myself.

I am not at all unfamiliar with children that have been abused. For several years I worked as a child counselor in a residential treatment facility where the majority of the children had been physically and sexually abused in the most horrific manner. Nor is this the first book I have read with this subject matter. But it was the first time where I felt little emotional connection to the character.

I am wondering if it was the way the book was written. Could it be that in order for Ryll to write this, she had to be emotionally disconnected, especially if she is writing from experience? Maybe I picked up on that. Or possibly I am a horrible person. Did anyone else have a similiar experience?

But I did absolutely loathe Lionel and also didn't care much for any of the adults in her life.


 

 

Vivian
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Re: Feather Man Discussion, Part 1 (Lionel) -- pages 13-107


vivico1 wrote:

This book really hit home for me in many ways. I was born at the end of the 50s, lived in a small town and was sexually abuse from ages 5 -13. Ande, sometimes it doesn't matter if you have family in the house. My Lionel was in my own family! 

 

As for a safe place. I sure understand that. I had two, one was just get out of the house, so when you are that little, that mostly meant school and it was a haven for me of people, adults watching over me. The other was something that I really didn't realize it had been one for me until I was working on my degree in psychology and then I thought back to it, where did I feel comfortable and safe, and that was the livingroom couch! To this day, I still take better naps on the couch than in bed. Thinking back my mother used to get onto me about napping on the couch all the time. She would tell me to go to my own bed. But see, thats where things happen at night, so you stay hypervigilant all night. Then I needed a nap during the day and think about it, the safest place is right in plain sight of everyone, the livingroom couch!

 

My teachers told my mother that I was one of the most well adjusted kids they had ever taught! She goes back to that to this day when she talks about why she didn't see it. Once I said, what I really was, was the most well adaptive kid they knew. You learn what you need to survive. Sooky is trying to do that, find out where and how to be safe and how to adapt in order to do that.

 


Viv,

 

I was born in the late 70's and my Lionel was also a member of my family of origin. Even in the early 80's talk of sexual abuse was taboo, at least in my house. Yet, like you, I suffered abuse in my own home as well. I learned when I was in grad school that my "safe place" was in a book. I learned to read at a young age and could get so involved in a book that my real world did not exist. To this day, that is how I read a book. The characters and stories become my reality for that time being. Books were a saving grace for me while I was growing up, as there never seemed to be a safe place in all the houses I lived in and I often felt that if the real world seemed invisible to me when I was reading a book, maybe,  just maybe, I would be invisible to my abusers. 

 

I can also relate to being a well adaptive child. I, too, loved school and excelled there. As I got older and after I told my mother about what had happened to me, I talked a lot about the abuse I endured. I would physically shake when I talked about it, which made me want to talk about it even more. I knew that if I could share my story to help someone else and not shiver while telling it, then, I would know that I had overcome the abuse. It took several years, but it finally happened to the point that I was able to confront my abuser via letter and put that experience behind me. Yes, it still hurts to the core of my being when I read a book like Feather Man or when I hear someone tell me about their own suffering, but I know I've not only survived the abuse, but have overcome it. 

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Re: Feather Man Discussion, Part 1 (Lionel) -- pages 13-107

It's terrible what you guys went through, terrible for any child. I grew up in the 70's/80's. If I had been molested, I'm not sure my parents would have known, as it wasn't as talked about then. But I do know that if I had been and I told them, they would have believed me and my mother wuold have murdered that person. But I don't know if I would have known it was wrong and to tell them. Children were taught to trust adults, not like today where responsible parents do try to warn kids. But usually that's warnings about strangers, not family members or close neighbors.

 

Viv, I had trouble with some of the slang also. i hope someone can enlighten us. On a lighter note, did you notice at the beginning how Sooky mentions that her mother has the book Rebecca and then later mentions they live on Manderlay Road. Just can't get away from that book:smileyhappy:

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Re: Feather Man Discussion, Part 1 (Lionel) -- pages 13-107

I can see how books would be your emotional safe place. I read to the extreme, from 3rd grade on. But what was your physical safe place? Anyone abused will find one or make one. As I have learned for myself and also from working with abused kids, there is someplace, like the livingroom couch for me. If you have worked with kids of abuse, you also know the prevalence of children, into their teens who are bed wetters. This is often a defense mechanism for them to try to make themselves physically unappealing to night attackers. I did some work with some foster kids at one time and its really prevalent there! Kids have been abused, are shuffled from home to home and they don't know what to do so they wet the beds and that's a lot when its a preteen or teen. I knew this when I took in a 13 year old girl once for 6 months, so I bought some bed pads that you can slip under the sheets, like they use in hospitals and put one on her bed. The first night she wet the bed, she hadn't done that in the group home for ages. She told me about it, testing what I would do or say, more scared than embarrassed. I told her, its ok, look, and I showed her the pad, showed her where they were kept and said, its just a sheet, we can wash it, no problem. I said when it happens, just take the sheet off and by the washer and toss the pad and I will wash the sheet for you. I said, I bet when you get a little more used to where you are, it will be ok, it must be hard to be somewhere new and as much as you want to be here, its just kinda scary too. She was very satisfied with that answer and it took about 2 weeks, but she stopped wetting the bed. We all find a physical safe place or make them when we feel we have to take care of ourselves. Did you have one, if you don't mind saying?

 


therapist wrote:

vivico1 wrote:

This book really hit home for me in many ways. I was born at the end of the 50s, lived in a small town and was sexually abuse from ages 5 -13. Ande, sometimes it doesn't matter if you have family in the house. My Lionel was in my own family!

 

As for a safe place. I sure understand that. I had two, one was just get out of the house, so when you are that little, that mostly meant school and it was a haven for me of people, adults watching over me. The other was something that I really didn't realize it had been one for me until I was working on my degree in psychology and then I thought back to it, where did I feel comfortable and safe, and that was the livingroom couch! To this day, I still take better naps on the couch than in bed. Thinking back my mother used to get onto me about napping on the couch all the time. She would tell me to go to my own bed. But see, that's where things happen at night, so you stay hypervigilant all night. Then I needed a nap during the day and think about it, the safest place is right in plain sight of everyone, the livingroom couch!

 

My teachers told my mother that I was one of the most well adjusted kids they had ever taught! She goes back to that to this day when she talks about why she didn't see it. Once I said, what I really was, was the most well adaptive kid they knew. You learn what you need to survive. Sooky is trying to do that, find out where and how to be safe and how to adapt in order to do that.

 


Viv,

 

I was born in the late 70's and my Lionel was also a member of my family of origin. Even in the early 80's talk of sexual abuse was taboo, at least in my house. Yet, like you, I suffered abuse in my own home as well. I learned when I was in grad school that my "safe place" was in a book. I learned to read at a young age and could get so involved in a book that my real world did not exist. To this day, that is how I read a book. The characters and stories become my reality for that time being. Books were a saving grace for me while I was growing up, as there never seemed to be a safe place in all the houses I lived in and I often felt that if the real world seemed invisible to me when I was reading a book, maybe, just maybe, I would be invisible to my abusers.

 

I can also relate to being a well adaptive child. I, too, loved school and excelled there. As I got older and after I told my mother about what had happened to me, I talked a lot about the abuse I endured. I would physically shake when I talked about it, which made me want to talk about it even more. I knew that if I could share my story to help someone else and not shiver while telling it, then, I would know that I had overcome the abuse. It took several years, but it finally happened to the point that I was able to confront my abuser via letter and put that experience behind me. Yes, it still hurts to the core of my being when I read a book like Feather Man or when I hear someone tell me about their own suffering, but I know I've not only survived the abuse, but have overcome it.


 

 

Vivian
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Re: Feather Man Discussion, Part 1 (Lionel) -- pages 13-107

Yeah, I saw the Rebecca thing lol. Deb, it was talked about a bit more in the 70's and 80's in the schools. They finally started to talk about people touching you but yeah it was mostly aimed at strangers. I will tell you this tho, you said because no one talked about it, you wouldn't know if it was wrong and to tell someone, trust me, you would have known it was wrong. There is something very wrong with even inappropriate touching that even a little kid feels, they know they don't like it, they know something is not right, the only reason so many don't say something, is not because they don't know its wrong. It's because they don't know if it's them who is at fault! That's what an abuser preys on and uses. My abuser knew I was too smart to believe that so the main one used torture techniques to keep me from talking.

 

There is a clean, innocence in children that knows when darkness has touched them and wants to be away from it, not become a part of it, but in that innocence, is also the lack of knowledge of how or what to do.

 


debbook wrote:

It's terrible what you guys went through, terrible for any child. I grew up in the 70's/80's. If I had been molested, I'm not sure my parents would have known, as it wasn't as talked about then. But I do know that if I had been and I told them, they would have believed me and my mother would have murdered that person. But I don't know if I would have known it was wrong and to tell them. Children were taught to trust adults, not like today where responsible parents do try to warn kids. But usually that's warnings about strangers, not family members or close neighbors.

 

Viv, I had trouble with some of the slang also. i hope someone can enlighten us. On a lighter note, did you notice at the beginning how Sooky mentions that her mother has the book Rebecca and then later mentions they live on Manderlay Road. Just can't get away from that book:smileyhappy:


 

 

Vivian
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Re: Feather Man Discussion, Part 1 (Lionel) -- pages 13-107/ poetic turn of a phrase

You know, besides the lingo problem that I hope we have a whole thread on to share those we found, there is something else that at times I had problems with. Rhyll can be very poetic in her writing, she has a wonderful way of describing things, horrifically so or beautifully so, but did anyone besides me find it hard in some places to tell if Sooky was actually experiencing something, talking about something real that had happened, or just daydreaming to herself? A few things, I really wasn't sure of, and it was often in the most poetically written parts.
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Re: Feather Man Discussion, Part 1 (Lionel) -- pages 13-107/ poetic turn of a phrase


vivico1 wrote:
You know, besides the lingo problem that I hope we have a whole thread on to share those we found, there is something else that at times I had problems with. Rhyll can be very poetic in her writing, she has a wonderful way of describing things, horrifically so or beautifully so, but did anyone besides me find it hard in some places to tell if Sooky was actually experiencing something, talking about something real that had happened, or just daydreaming to herself? A few things, I really wasn't sure of, and it was often in the most poetically written parts.

 

Yes, to me also, Vivian, I had a problem with keeping up with the time of events. Did he molest her many times as indicated by the author's writing or maybe a few times. She describes two times that I read. One in his workshop and then in the chicken coop. But then she saids something about he continued. She kind of goes back and forth, or maybe I am not paying attention.
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Re: Feather Man Discussion, Part 1 (Lionel) -- pages 13-107/ poetic turn of a phrase


kiakar wrote:

vivico1 wrote:
You know, besides the lingo problem that I hope we have a whole thread on to share those we found, there is something else that at times I had problems with. Rhyll can be very poetic in her writing, she has a wonderful way of describing things, horrifically so or beautifully so, but did anyone besides me find it hard in some places to tell if Sooky was actually experiencing something, talking about something real that had happened, or just daydreaming to herself? A few things, I really wasn't sure of, and it was often in the most poetically written parts.

 

Yes, to me also, Vivian, I had a problem with keeping up with the time of events. Did he molest her many times as indicated by the author's writing or maybe a few times. She describes two times that I read. One in his workshop and then in the chicken coop. But then she saids something about he continued. She kind of goes back and forth, or maybe I am not paying attention.

 

i also had a problem with the timing of the events. i wasn't sure if sooky stayed away from or went back to "the scene of the crime". since my personal experience with abuse took place outside my home also, i was interested in knowing if she went back to lionel's place or stayed away afterwards as best she could. the dialogue was confusing on that issue. i, for one, never went back into a situation where that relative would be near me. i was lucky.

regarding the worms, i thought that the incident was put into the book to show that sooky got them from lionel who was a despicable, filthy character without any redeeming features. i had hoped her mom would put two and two together from that episode, but it only further showed how removed she was from her daughter's world. she was in her own shattered world, as was dolly, who had also, obviously, been horribly abused by lionel and thus retreated from reality, probably to maintain what little sanity she had left.
i wondered if, sooky's mom, in her loneliness and despair, had turned to lionel and engaged in some sort of "affair" with him and was also under "his spell" because of it and perhaps in collusion with him as so often happens when the mom is weak, scared, dominated and/or abused and can't or won't face what is taking place and just needs to be wanted by anyone, even a monster. i couldn't find another plausible reason for her "devotion" to dolly and lionel. i almost felt that lionel would have sensed her feelings of total rejection and loss and moved in for the kill.

rosie didn't have enough time invested in her marriage, or in sooky, to warrant doing much about anything except running from the relationship. once she realized what a dysfunctional situation it was, she just took off, but not before she intimated that sooky was being abused. i think she tried but she was helpless to do more than save herself. the entire family turned a blind eye to the horrific events taking place in that household. that is what I found most bizarre, it was like everyone in that household suffered from mass hysteria.
i do not think that abuse takes place because of a lack of supervision or attention. the abuser knows when his victim will be vulnerable and he knows how to manipulate the victim, as well. he has practice, the victim does not and is caught in his act of betrayal against her/him, without any weapons of defense.

i had a foster child who came from a home that was rife with sexual abuse. the family was large and several of the brothers were molesters. the parents were told but they were in denial. when relatives were told they, too, reacted in shock and disbelief and insisted that the victims were lying. alcohol abuse was a common thread in this household and denier, abuser and victim all used it for their own purposes, to escape, enable or deny the accusations and abuse.

i never realized how many people have been involved in abusive situations. it is almost as if it is the norm, on this board, and not the exception. this is a heinous crime and most of the victims are young and defenseless. the subject has been in the closet too long and needs to be aired and the perpetrators punished in some horrific way that will have a real effect on their lives going forward. i am in favor of castration, which i know is horrible but these people are horrible. (i guess this indicates how angry i am; maybe i am a horrible person but i can't help how i feel when it comes to this type of crime. (can't you just hear the aclu objecting to that one?) perhaps such a severe, probably illegal, punishment would stop their insane needs, although, come to think of it lionel didn't seem to need that part of his anatomy to do his dastardly deeds. i am sure.he was just altogether disgusting.

my personal experience with abuse left my home sacrosanct and safe. also it only took place once since i was simply able to avoid that relative going forward. my mom, although the epitome of a loving person. was what we called a "prude" in the days when i was a child, (this took place in the early fifties) and i kept it a secret for many years, never, ever telling her about it. i was ashamed. when i finally told my sister, 20+ years later, she cried. she felt that what had happened to me was her fault because she was older than i was and it had happened to her too. she thought she should have warned me against this relative so that i could have protected myself. these deviants cause repercussions in their victims and their victims families. it has a distinct domino effect and profoundly alters the lives that are touched by this behavior. these deviants are wicked people. if there is evil in the world, they are perfect examples.

because of the nature of sexual abuse, it has always been largely hidden. maybe this book can be the catalyst to open an even broader discussion on this subject so that the situation can be corrected. right now, there is only financial reward for the abuse, as with the church paying the victims but that only provides remuneration to the victim for his suffering. this may be well deserved, as it is payback time for the perpetrators, literally, but it doesn't solve the problem of the deviant. perhaps a more open discussion on this topic woud prevent some off the abuse because if a child is forewarned about the dangers, perhaps he/she can protect herself/himself. an important lesson is that not all older people or authority figures are worthy of respect. some can be and should be defied.

i would like to offer my heartfelt sympathy to all those out there who have suffered at the hands of a "monster" of any kind. they are innocent victims who often punish themselves and i hope, that in the end, they learn to overcome the obvious harm that such abuse brings with it.

twj

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vivico1
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Re: Feather Man Discussion, Part 1 (Lionel) -- pages 13-107/ poetic turn of a phrase

twj wrote:

"...regarding the worms, i thought that the incident was put into the book to show that sooky got them from lionel who was a despicable, filthy character without any redeeming features..."

_________________________________________________________

 

Ok, here's the thing, are "worms" then crabs? She even talks about catching one and smashing it at one time, eww. But her mom talks about not being clean and getting them from the dirt under your fingernails if you scratch your privates. And also, she talks about them being in her bottom, her behind, that her mother even put sticky tape over her bum hole. She did talk about getting an infection in her privates, lumps on the raw skin inside and that I thought about that being an STD she got from him.

 

I have questions here about the incident most described, just don't know what B&N will let me say. I am not quite sure what all Lionel did to her, and over what period of time, was it once, twice, a lot of times? When we read about it happening, my understanding is, he wet his finger, put it inside her, he tried to penetrate her but couldn't and was smart enough maybe to not force it, and so he laid on her, with it on her stomach and "finished". She talks about having this nasty sticky stuff on her stomach later. There, hope that will fly here lol. Now, having been a victim myself, do not get me wrong, you do not have to be penetrated to be sexually abused and mentally along with that. I am just trying to get a clear picture of what has happened between Sooky and Lionel and for how long. Is some of this language even. I have an online friend in England who tells me, you would never say in England " you need your fanny slapped" because fanny is not the butt, its, shall we say, in front, and you would get your face slapped. I said well what do you call your butt then and she gave a couple of names, bottom, down there, etc. I said "down there?" I said that is the front here, you guys are all backwards and The Bee Gees never could have sang, Fanny be tender with my Love there without getting tossed out for being Xrated LOL!

 

So was Sooky ever penetrated, front or back? Are the worms, worms? We know she was definately sexually assaulted but over what time period , because as some have said, we have a sense of going back and forth in time. Lionel is just a nasty ugly filthy old man and they may have all been somewhat isolated in the region of where they lived, but Sooky did have school and could have had friends from there. Her mother and Lionel's wife,well sounds like they are stuck in the lonely world of the "50s women under the thumb of domineering men" and you just accept that because its your husband and thats what you do.

Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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moxette
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Re: Feather Man Discussion, Part 1 (Lionel) -- pages 13-107

It was easy to identify with Sooky because of her abuse and the other adults who are too busy in their life to admit anything is going wrongIt is fascinating to see how the author constructs a child who is adorable but ignored and abused by the adults around herThe adults use Sooky for their own purpose and disregard her at the drop of a hat pin when they have their own problems to deal with and she is left alone
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debbook
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Re: Feather Man Discussion, Part 1 (Lionel) -- pages 13-107/ poetic turn of a phrase

I wonder if the lack of clarity over exactly what happened and how often was intentional by the author. It was such a dicotomy to have her beautiful writing be about such an horrific topic.

 

Viv, I think the worms are actually worms. But there also may have been an STD, it is hard to tell from the story. I think it was to add to the story of how neglected Sooky was. I'm not sure if the mom really cared that much about the neighbors, other than to portray her life as how she wanted it to be seen. So if Lionel wanted Sooky to come over and she didn't, the mom would see Sooky's " rudeness" as a reflection of the mom. This mother never would have believed anything Sooky said, neither would the father. She seemed to be an inconvienence to them both. Lionel was disgusting and foul and had no redeeming qualities.

 

TWJ, I understand your strong position on child molesters. When I used to work w/ children that had been molested, I loathed their molesters. But I also knew that some of the children I was working with were probably going to grow up and become molesters themselves. There aren't very good programs to address that issue itself w/ victimized children. It used to really upset me that a child I was close to, might some day become an adult I would think of as a monster. It still does, i just try not to think of it as much as i no longer work with children.

But I felt no sympathy for Lionel, I don't care what his childhood was like.

 

 

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kiakar
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Re: Feather Man Discussion, Part 1 (Lionel) -- pages 13-107

You know, normally you go thru life not reading between the lines as if abuse does not happen in your world. Always happening to someone  else with lessor morals than yourself and household. You do not keep your eyes and ears open because that would mean distrust. With so much abuse happening in blended families this day and time, we need to wake up and smell the roses. Who can we trust? We do not know who has a dyfunctional life before they came into our life. Whether a neighbor,step father or even brothers or such. Of course in the fifties when I was abused at 10, noone especially my mom just didn't let those thoughts enter her mind. Of course my mom was busy guarding her life, because my stepfather was very physical abusive to her. My sister who was 12 and I was 10 went out with him driving, he was going to teach my sister how to drive. He said I could guide the car. He fondled both of us, but once we got home we always made excuses not to go back. He still tried at times with both of us, but we would make sure we wren't left alone with him. Fortunately ,  Mom divorced him in the next year. We never told her because we felt it was our fault also. We told her later on but back then you didn't file charge decades later as they do now. If everyone would confront these situations up front and in the open, we could put a stop to alot of it. But so many people still keep secrets and some parents ask their children to keep that secret. I read books of this sort, because even as old as I am, at times I still have guilt feelings bounce out at me.

 

A few years back, I belonged to this baptist church which the pastor, a man of my age started harrassing me. He came to my home under pretense of helping me through my mother's illness. He was married and later I heard he did play around on the side. I did not know this at the time. And maybe I indicated since I was single by some inapproiate way that I liked him in this way. I do not know, but when he embraced me on my couch and I gave him a harsh push away and ordered him to leave. He threatened me with If I told, he would deny it all and sue me for trying to ruin his name. I can't see myself as a flirt, especially since I have gotten older. So I have discovered through some counceling, that I am not the bad guy. That he is to blame the same as my step father was when I was a child. It is easy to blame yourself for this. And very common, that is why most people have to seek counciling.

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IBIS
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Re: Feather Man Discussion, Part 1 (Lionel) -- pages 13-107/ poetic turn of a phrase

[ Edited ]

The worms are actual worms, otherwise known as "pinworms". They are white and breed inside the large intestine. One obvious symptom is itchiness. On p. 19, Sooky describes them as the "glassy white of rice noodles with a pointy tail that whipped round, frenzied, as if it didn't like the light".

 

Very bad personal hygiene is a common source of infection ... which makes Lionel doubly damnable.

 

IBIS 

 

Message Edited by IBIS on 09-02-2008 01:42 PM
IBIS

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kiakar
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Re: Feather Man Discussion, Part 1 (Lionel) -- pages 13-107/ poetic turn of a phrase


IBIS wrote:

The worms are actual worms, otherwise known as "pinworms". They are white and breed inside the large intestine. One obvious symptom is itchiness. On p. 19, Sooky describes them as the "glassy white of rice noodles with a pointy tail that whipped round, frenzied, as if it didn't like the light".

 

Very bad personal hygiene is a common source of infection ... which makes Lionel doubly damnable.

 

IBIS 

 

Message Edited by IBIS on 09-02-2008 01:42 PM

 

 

 

 

 

You are right, IBIS. Vivian didn't think we had ever had worms in the US. I have heard of them all my life. If a child plays in dirt, fifth and so forth and doesn't wash before the hands go back in the mouth, they can get worms today. Sookie did not bath or wash when she came in from the dirt, she simply went to bed and to sleep. Her mom then took the covers off the bed, not concerning with Sookie at all. So she still didnt bath, that I remember. Especially around animal feces, so I understand.

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IBIS
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Re: Feather Man Discussion, Part 1 (Lionel) -- pages 13-107/ timing of events

The author chose to open the Lionel section of the book with a shocker... in medias res, so to speak... in the middle of things.

 

The later chapters in this section swing back and forth in time... before the horribly graphic scene of her abuse.... when Sooky first meets Lionel, when he seduces her with his "shadow boxes", when she breakfasts with him and Dolly, when she watches him shave, and hungry for any adult attention, she says, "I must how Lionel my writing."

 

 But as readers we can see the perniciousness of his attention AFTER the fact... when he exposes her innocence to his lecherous comments about the passerby white Russian woman....etc.

 

Afterwards, we understand why she refuses to visit them.... There were times when I felt like smacking some sense into her clueless mother who demanded that she  "be nice" , not to be "uppity", and to behave.

 

An interesting question could be: why did the author chose to start her book this way... why not slowly build up our acquaintance with Sooky...  and Lionel? Or is it because, although the title "Feather Man" might refer to Lionel, it really is Sooky's story... not Lionel's?

 

IBIS 

IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."