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sharpd0307
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Re: Early Reading: The Wife’s Decision (SPOILER WARNING)

I completely read this as her being "blind" to the aspect of life getting better and therefore she took her life. I've never thought of her actually being blind - more blind to the "light" of life (her son), faith, and a better life. She gave up b/c of this "blindness." I think her vision was as good as her husband's.

David
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Fozzie
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Re: Early Reading: The Wife’s Decision (SPOILER WARNING)

A very interesting discussion of this aspect of the novel --- thanks to all.

Taking a bit of a different approach to the wife, what I took away from her as a character is that she gave birth right after the catastrophe and the child she bore (the boy in the novel) never knew the world before the catastrophe. Wow! I try to wrap my mind around the feelings of hopelessness she must have had for the life of her child. I just can't. When I read a book, I try to imagine myself in the situation of the characters, to try to understand why they think and act the way they do. This was very hard to do with The Road. I would hope that such a catastrophe would never occur, but if it did, I wouldn't want to be around to see the aftermath. I think her feelings and ultimate reaction represent the thoughts and actions of many people after the catastrophe. Also, I think her feelings and actions serve as a contrast to the people we meet during the novel --- the ones who have survived for years, the ones who persevered, often at terrible costs.
Laura

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Paul_Hochman
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Re: Early Reading: The Wife’s Decision (SPOILER WARNING)



Fozzie wrote:
A very interesting discussion of this aspect of the novel --- thanks to all.

Taking a bit of a different approach to the wife, what I took away from her as a character is that she gave birth right after the catastrophe and the child she bore (the boy in the novel) never knew the world before the catastrophe. Wow! I try to wrap my mind around the feelings of hopelessness she must have had for the life of her child. I just can't. When I read a book, I try to imagine myself in the situation of the characters, to try to understand why they think and act the way they do. This was very hard to do with The Road. I would hope that such a catastrophe would never occur, but if it did, I wouldn't want to be around to see the aftermath. I think her feelings and ultimate reaction represent the thoughts and actions of many people after the catastrophe. Also, I think her feelings and actions serve as a contrast to the people we meet during the novel --- the ones who have survived for years, the ones who persevered, often at terrible costs.




Wow is right, Fozzie, but the other aspect to consider is that she did persevere for quite some time after the catastrophe. The boy was old enough to comprehend her leaving/death, which makes her decision even more difficult to understand, as she must have built a substantial relationship with her son up to that point.
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Matt
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Re: Early Reading: The Wife’s Decision (SPOILER WARNING)

She is not blind. On pg 56 it says "She watched him across the small flame." The reference to her not being able to see is because it is night and very dark. The exteme darkness is mentioned several times throughout the book because the sky is filled with ash, blocking out the stars and moon.
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bentley
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Re: Early Reading: The Wife’s Decision (SPOILER WARNING)


Matt wrote:
She is not blind. On pg 56 it says "She watched him across the small flame." The reference to her not being able to see is because it is night and very dark. The exteme darkness is mentioned several times throughout the book because the sky is filled with ash, blocking out the stars and moon.




The quotes that the father is remembering are snapshots in time. And the one you quoted was earlier in the timespan (remember the boy was born right after the catastrophe) and is probably 8-10 years old (can't recall exactly).

If she was exposed to radiation (water supply, etc) it could have effected her eyesight. Some folks believe she went blind just like the father was coughing up blood by the end; or it is a possibility that McCarthy was referring to her state of mind, etc.

The extreme darkness and atmospheric conditions were also touched upon...there has been much discussion on the above. And folks just have different opinions on the meaning of the figurative language.
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seeing or not

[ Edited ]
Hi,

I follow the discussion with interest. To my understanding the woman is not physically blind. Moreover, the darkness paired with the female 'element' can offer many deeper connotations here but it all depends on how we decide to interpret the text based on our experiences and knowledge. I'd guess CmC doesn't choose his words without care if I say so. Moreover, words are never as absolute as we at times like to think. Also the third eye has nothing to do with faith but with seeing beyond (apart of) the physical sight, seeing connections and meanings beyond time and space.

regards,
ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 04-17-200709:35 AM

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Re: Early Reading: The Wife’s Decision (SPOILER WARNING)

Hi Laura, but isn't there a seed of hope in the midst of it?

ziki
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Fozzie
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Re: Early Reading: The Wife’s Decision (SPOILER WARNING)



ziki wrote:
Hi Laura, but isn't there a seed of hope in the midst of it?

ziki



Hi Ziki. Do you mean hope in the wife's decision or hope in the book as a whole? I don't see hope in the wife's decision (the topic of this thread) but do see hope in the book as a whole.
Laura

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RyanEBack
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Re: Early Reading: The Wife’s Decision (SPOILER WARNING)

I am interested to hear (read) your thoughts on hope in the novel.
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Re: Early Reading: The Wife’s Decision (SPOILER WARNING)



RyanEBack wrote:
I am interested to hear (read) your thoughts on hope in the novel.



I'll include them as part of my answer to ziki's thread on the meaning of the whole novel.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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vivico1
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Re: Early Reading: The Wife’s Decision (SPOILER WARNING)


PaulH wrote:


LuvReading wrote:


PaulH wrote:
How do we feel about the wife’s reaction to the catastrophe and her ultimate decision? Is she a sympathetic character?

Message Edited by PaulH on 04-05-200704:41 PM







This is where I would reflect on "What would I do?" I can actually see, depending on her frame of mind, why she would choose suicide over living in hell. She was at a particular disadvantage being blind. However, the other side of the coin is leaving her child. Although, she may have known the father would look after the child and she would possibly hinder their chance for survival.

If I had to go one way or another, I would conclude she did it because she couldn't bear to live in such conditions. She didn't hold the same hope as the father in the story.





This made me think of a discussion i had with some of my fellow college students , way back lol, about the fact that we lived just south of Oklahoma City and a report had come out that we were on the top ten hit list for a nuclear air strike because of Tinker Air Force Base here and its AWACS planes. So one day i asked, if it only takes 30 minutes for a missle leaving Russia to hit us here and IF they even told us right then, would you get in your car and race towards Tinker or away from it? It was a lively discussion, with some wanting to run as fast as they could and others wanting to run right at it (me being one) because it would be instant then, not burned badly and maybe not dead like those a bit further out, or those dying of cancers and horrible deaths that were even a bit further out. We just didnt see how you could outrun it in 30 minutes, so it was more about how or when did you want to die.
Vivian
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vivico1
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Re: Early Reading: The Wife’s Decision (SPOILER WARNING)


Erato wrote:

PaulH wrote:
How do we feel about the wife’s reaction to the catastrophe and her ultimate decision? Is she a sympathetic character?

Message Edited by PaulH on 04-05-200704:41 PM






On page 58 as the wife has just left, the following is revealed in this observation.....

"The hundred nights they'd sat up arguing the pros and cons of self destruction with the earnestness of philosophers chained to a madhouse wall."
What a chilling and vibrant image!

This was no spur of the moment decision; she'd given up all hope long ago and now wanted to be true to her "own whorish heart." She lacked the "faith" of the man and son. There was no carrying of any fire in her heart. She even said that her heart had been ripped out of her the night the son was born.

I think that she makes it perfectly clear why she intends to commit suicide.
It is she, she believes, who has the greater vision or clarity. She sees them as "the walking dead in a horror film"......she's entirely given up hope (the faith).

When he tells her "You can't even see", it is true literally because of the unnatural dark, but it is also a metaphor for not being able to "see" the man's viewpoint.

Her only desire is for the "eternal nothingness" through her new lover death!
She could be deemed blind in many ways except the most familiar one as she says "I don't need to"(see) and then goes off into the dark to seek her new lover in death.


I agree that she had long ago lost the light inside her (the faith, the hope). She did not carry it as the man and the boy did. There is a very spiritual nature to this book and the fire is a big part of it. And they had the fire, the boy had to carry it on. When you lose faith and hope, when your light goes out, then you can want for the peace of nothingness, become suicidal. She saw no hope for them and didnt want to see what was left then. Oh and as for the seeing, possible she was physically blind but yeah it did say she LOOKED at him over the flame and he did say where are you going you cant even see, but it was pitch black dark, he ran into that himself a few times later on and went into the night though he didnt want to. When extreme tragedies happen, people act in different ways. I dont blame her for her decision, tho it was hard to hear. Its just where she was versus the father. Think about hurricane katrina. Do you remember reading that some of the police and firemen, those there trying to help actually wound up committing suicide with what they saw? They talked about it on the news, how they were going to take care of the caregivers and make sure it didnt happen again. How can you blame her for her decision,they were all losing it emotionally in some ways.
Vivian
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Paul_Hochman
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Re: Early Reading: The Wife’s Decision (SPOILER WARNING)

I don't blame her for her decision, but I do think it was a selfish act. She had no regard for the boy in doing this, but this perhaps is intentional. Maybe she is just the vessel for the boy and ultimately hope to arrive and survive. What do you think?
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Re: Early Reading: The Wife’s Decision (SPOILER WARNING)


PaulH wrote:
I don't blame her for her decision, but I do think it was a selfish act. She had no regard for the boy in doing this, but this perhaps is intentional. Maybe she is just the vessel for the boy and ultimately hope to arrive and survive. What do you think?


Suicide is a selfish act. Some will argue with that, like saying yeah she walked away to give them a better chance to survive but thats not her history on the thought. She had wanted out of anything like this that might happen since before it did. She was so overcome with things, I dont think she was in her right mind to really think in terms of helping them by such an act. Plus you wouldnt have the same story if she had survived. You would either have two caring parents, which in many ways would have made the story less horrific and even watered down the intensity of emotions going on in the relationshihp between the boy and his father. Or you would have had them dragging this mad, screaming woman around all the time, baggage if you will and trying to deal with her and keep her alive as well as themselves and thats a whole other story too. Having her gone, is what makes it feel more alone for the boy and the father in the story, alone in the world. What their journey was in this book, would not have been the same with a mother and a father, nor just a mother and a son. To make the book and the feelings you get from it this good, I think Cormac had to get rid of her. It was important to the plot.
Vivian
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Paul_Hochman
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Re: Early Reading: The Wife’s Decision (SPOILER WARNING)



Suicide is a selfish act. Some will argue with that, like saying yeah she walked away to give them a better chance to survive but thats not her history on the thought. She had wanted out of anything like this that might happen since before it did. She was so overcome with things, I dont think she was in her right mind to really think in terms of helping them by such an act. Plus you wouldnt have the same story if she had survived. You would either have two caring parents, which in many ways would have made the story less horrific and even watered down the intensity of emotions going on in the relationshihp between the boy and his father. Or you would have had them dragging this mad, screaming woman around all the time, baggage if you will and trying to deal with her and keep her alive as well as themselves and thats a whole other story too. Having her gone, is what makes it feel more alone for the boy and the father in the story, alone in the world. What their journey was in this book, would not have been the same with a mother and a father, nor just a mother and a son. To make the book and the feelings you get from it this good, I think Cormac had to get rid of her. It was important to the plot.




I agree that the book would have changed dramatically had she not killed herself, but to me, she was almost a one dimensional character. It's almost as if she was just put into the plot to get the boy into the overall picture.
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vivico1
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Re: Early Reading: The Wife’s Decision (SPOILER WARNING)


PaulH wrote:


Suicide is a selfish act. Some will argue with that, like saying yeah she walked away to give them a better chance to survive but thats not her history on the thought. She had wanted out of anything like this that might happen since before it did. She was so overcome with things, I dont think she was in her right mind to really think in terms of helping them by such an act. Plus you wouldnt have the same story if she had survived. You would either have two caring parents, which in many ways would have made the story less horrific and even watered down the intensity of emotions going on in the relationshihp between the boy and his father. Or you would have had them dragging this mad, screaming woman around all the time, baggage if you will and trying to deal with her and keep her alive as well as themselves and thats a whole other story too. Having her gone, is what makes it feel more alone for the boy and the father in the story, alone in the world. What their journey was in this book, would not have been the same with a mother and a father, nor just a mother and a son. To make the book and the feelings you get from it this good, I think Cormac had to get rid of her. It was important to the plot.




I agree that the book would have changed dramatically had she not killed herself, but to me, she was almost a one dimensional character. It's almost as if she was just put into the plot to get the boy into the overall picture.


Well yeah but at the same time, you dont really need her for that. We really dont need a vessel to get the boy there, we know where little boys come from :smileywink: and we dont need her to let you know that he is the son of this man cause he always calls him papa. I think she was there to show what this kind of thing can do to all kinds of people and also you hear the man miss her so much at times. She as a character is pretty one dimension, i agree, but as a part of the story of what the two of them go through, she adds another loss and another wish. Also if the boy is the keeper of the fire, the faith and hope, she epitomizes the opposite, she represents that part of the world that exists in opposition to the boy. The author shows so much of life in this "new world" through the reactions and emotions of the characters, that she represents those reactions and emotions that the father and son do not.
Vivian
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Paul_Hochman
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Re: Early Reading: The Wife’s Decision (SPOILER WARNING)

Well yeah but at the same time, you dont really need her for that. We really dont need a vessel to get the boy there, we know where little boys come from :smileywink: and we dont need her to let you know that he is the son of this man cause he always calls him papa. I think she was there to show what this kind of thing can do to all kinds of people and also you hear the man miss her so much at times. She as a character is pretty one dimension, i agree, but as a part of the story of what the two of them go through, she adds another loss and another wish. Also if the boy is the keeper of the fire, the faith and hope, she epitomizes the opposite, she represents that part of the world that exists in opposition to the boy. The author shows so much of life in this "new world" through the reactions and emotions of the characters, that she represents those reactions and emotions that the father and son do not.




I can agree with that. She does add to the overall despair in the novel.
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vivico1
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Re: Early Reading: The Wife’s Decision (SPOILER WARNING)


Vivico1 wrote:
Well yeah but at the same time, you dont really need her for that. We really dont need a vessel to get the boy there, we know where little boys come from :smileywink: and we dont need her to let you know that he is the son of this man cause he always calls him papa. I think she was there to show what this kind of thing can do to all kinds of people and also you hear the man miss her so much at times. She as a character is pretty one dimension, i agree, but as a part of the story of what the two of them go through, she adds another loss and another wish. Also if the boy is the keeper of the fire, the faith and hope, she epitomizes the opposite, she represents that part of the world that exists in opposition to the boy. The author shows so much of life in this "new world" through the reactions and emotions of the characters, that she represents those reactions and emotions that the father and son do not.



PaulH wrote:
I can agree with that. She does add to the overall despair in the novel.


You know another good reason to have her there, tho she is dead, is to just let the reader know what happened to the mother and get that out of the way. I mean, we know he had to have a mother, but to wonder, where is she? Did she die? Did she die before this? How did she die? What happened to her?? All that would just distract from the story dont you think? So put her in there, let her be the opposite side but a loved one and bring her up when you need to make a point but dont let her existance, or lack of, distract from the real story unfolding here. maybe?
Vivian
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Paul_Hochman
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Re: Early Reading: The Wife’s Decision (SPOILER WARNING)



You know another good reason to have her there, tho she is dead, is to just let the reader know what happened to the mother and get that out of the way. I mean, we know he had to have a mother, but to wonder, where is she? Did she die? Did she die before this? How did she die? What happened to her?? All that would just distract from the story dont you think? So put her in there, let her be the opposite side but a loved one and bring her up when you need to make a point but dont let her existance, or lack of, distract from the real story unfolding here. maybe?




Maybe. But McCarthy isn't one to spell things out. He leaves a lot open for interpretation. I think your initial thought was probably spot on -- she's there to represent the opposite.
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maxcat
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Re: Early Reading: The Wife’s Decision (SPOILER WARNING)

I have an audiotape of the book and it is intriguing. I think if I was in the wife's place, I would take my life also. She didn't seem sympathetic to it but she might have steeled herself for the inevitable.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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