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Distinguished Bibliophile
KathyS
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Responsibility?

[ Edited ]
Pepper, I understand what you are saying. My meaning was, we only heard from Grace, and I could only see her points of view, from her vantage point, and relate it back to mine. She may have not been the only one to see blame, and find guilt. Her response, by telling us her story, was my clue.

When I said, how do they sleep? I was referring to the ones who actually were to blame, but have no conscience for seeing that they should assume it. We'll never know, in this novel, because they are dead, and have no voice.

It's a difficult situation we are put in, when you deal with 'what ifs, or maybes, when you read a novel that is only told to us through the eyes of one person, the author; and giving us one character's true perspectives. We know what we know, when we read it.

I didn't want to get off the topic, too far, with dealing with 'real life' situations. We all, as humans with a conscience, deal with guilt. I've looked it in the eye. I only have my own dreams and nightmares to tell me this.
K.

Peppermill wrote:
"I wonder how some of those people sleep, don't you?"

Kathy -- The accusation could be sweet, if it didn't apply to us -- whether we vote or we don't vote.

It may be, as one poster says, the blame is in the situation. But where is the responsibility? Somehow, placing it on Grace, or the engineers who didn't get heard on a technical difficulty for a shuttle launch, or an analyst who didn't get heard when she cried what was deemed "Wolf" before 9/11, or the child who yelled "I hate you" at the Dad who walked out of the house drunk and then had a fatal accident does not work for me. And, yes, I know those are not truly parallel situations. But they do impact my ruminations on Riverton.

Oh, dear, it must be late on a Saturday nite. I am walking the gang plank into cold water.

PS -- my comments really were back towards the entire thread on The Tape.


KathyS wrote:

Peppermill wrote:
Fascinating thread to read. Thx to all of you who have contributed.

One of the questions that has been haunting me about HAR -- and it may be discussed elsewhere where I have not read yet, but did Kate Morton intend this entire story as an elaborate commentary on 9/11 (and similar catastrophes)? Where did the catastrophe "start"? Where, if any, is blame, guilt, responsibility, cause and effect, culpability, accountability ...? On the agents who had clues but did not reveal them or were buried by the bureaucratic processes? By social and structural expectations and disappointments? By perverted visions of self-protection? By deliberate subversion of societal norms and decency? ...

I probably go too far in making such parallels, but tidbits like Gertrude Bell (districting of the Middle East), emphasis on the impact of war on individual soldiers, the possible "mercy killing" of the second son with hemophilia, ... are among those that have taken my thoughts on this perhaps extravagant leap.
Pepper, our minds do take 'extravagant leaps' at times, don't they? Most of the time, without us even knowing it! If I thought to bring all of those side thoughts, introducing them into this complicated dream interpretation, just think where that would have taken me! LOL. After I wrote my own thoughts, I went back into the questions for the author section, and saw that Kate had given more of her thoughts about this dream, to her readers. As with any dream, there is always room for personal interpretation. As I said, the author created this dream, and she would be the only one who could interpret it properly.

Your thoughts were great, I wonder how some of those people sleep, don't you?
Kathy


Message Edited by Peppermill on 01-26-2008 10:34 PM



Message Edited by KathyS on 01-27-2008 11:34 AM
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Responsibility?

KathyS wrote: When I said, how do they sleep? I was referring to the ones who actually were to blame, but have no conscience for seeing that they should assume it. We'll never know, in this novel, because they are dead, and have no voice.

It's a difficult situation we are put in, when you deal with 'what ifs, or maybes, when you read a novel that is only told to us through the eyes of one person, the author; and giving us one character's true perspectives. We know what we know, when we read it.


Well put, Kathy. I misunderstood that you were applying your question "how do they sleep" within the scope of the characters in the story. Sadly, within this story, their sleep quickly became eternal, except perhaps Teddy and Deborah -- do I remember what happened to them? And except for Grace and her long life.

Just noted, p. 25: "The folk of Riverton have all been dead so long. While age has withered me, they remain eternally youthful, eternally beautiful." Isn't it ironic that we are discussing here, were they indeed "eternally beautiful," or also deeply flawed human beings, ensnared in situations partly of their own perverse volition and partly as a result of the larger communities within which they functions? E.g., Hannah violated her marriage vows, Robbie facilitated her, but Fanny had commandeered Hannah into a loveless marriage, Robbie had returned from the Great War to find himself one of the "Lost Generation,"....

I often wonder if Grace was ever able to separate her initial act of hiding her Valley of Fear purchase from her continuing pretense of learning shorthand. It seems to me those are two very different acts -- the first largely an attempt to preserve and protect her own privacy, the subsequent ones, attempts to perpetuate a relationship fraudulently.

Just ran across another piece that more firmly anchors Marcus into the story for me:

"No, it is not so simple as grief. It is guilt that chases him. Misplaced guilt over Rebecca's death. He blames himself, believes that if he hadn't left her, things might have gone differently. I worry for him. I understand well the peculiar guilt of tragedy's survivors." P. 79.

It also suggests Grace's recognition of the (sometimes) separation between the logical, reasonable, rational interpretation of events and their emotional impact and pull. To tell her story to him may not be just to give him an end to his writers block, but to give him a parallel for his own trip of guilt.

P. 115 -- I thought the title of the Sherlock Holmes book was so appropriate. I checked a tome of Holmes writings the other other day in the bookstore and found it. I did not read enough to determine whether there is another level of symbolism beyond the title that Ms. Morton is calling forward for the knowledgeable reader.
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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goingeast
Posts: 89
Registered: ‎01-03-2007
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Re: Responsibility?

peppermill wrote:

To tell her story to him may not be just to give him an end to his writers block, but to give him a parallel for his own trip of guilt.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Thank you for that insight. I had been wondering what meaning or purpose it would have for him. Do you think she included in her memoir the information about Ursula? Would that help him with his grief? Is he likely to tell Ursula?

Ann, goingeast
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paula_02912
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Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: PART FOUR: The Tape

Karen wrote: What are your thoughts? Why is Grace, and not Hannah, holding the "stiff, cold body of a dead foxhound"? Do you take the foxhound to represent Robbie, or is it a symbol of the end of Grace's childhood (with the foxhound being Raverly, from the nursery)? Any other interpretations?"

Karen, that is a great question. In retrospect, I think that Grace is holding the cold dead body of the foxhound because, ultimately, she felt responsible for Robbie's death. Maybe that was the guilt that was weighing heavily on her mind and not just the secret that his death was really murder and that Hannah was the one to pull the trigger. Maybe, just maybe, she felt that if she had indeed known shorthand, then maybe things wouldn't have spiraled so quickly. I believe that if she did, she would have tried to cover up Hannah's plan to run away with Robbie, just like she did when she covered up the fact that she was having an extramarital affair with him. If this was the case, the book itself would have been totally different and then what would the tragedy or secret really be?
Peace and love,
Paula R.

"Adversity causes some people to break, but causes others to break records."

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istoria
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: PART FOUR: The Tape



paula_02912 wrote:
Karen wrote: What are your thoughts? Why is Grace, and not Hannah, holding the "stiff, cold body of a dead foxhound"? Do you take the foxhound to represent Robbie, or is it a symbol of the end of Grace's childhood (with the foxhound being Raverly, from the nursery)? Any other interpretations?"

Karen, that is a great question. In retrospect, I think that Grace is holding the cold dead body of the foxhound because, ultimately, she felt responsible for Robbie's death. Maybe that was the guilt that was weighing heavily on her mind and not just the secret that his death was really murder and that Hannah was the one to pull the trigger. Maybe, just maybe, she felt that if she had indeed known shorthand, then maybe things wouldn't have spiraled so quickly. I believe that if she did, she would have tried to cover up Hannah's plan to run away with Robbie, just like she did when she covered up the fact that she was having an extramarital affair with him. If this was the case, the book itself would have been totally different and then what would the tragedy or secret really be?




I don't know if it's so much Grace feels responsible for Robbie's death. I think it was far more important to her that she lost Hannah's trust. I think the Foxhound was more a representation of that trust, that the perfect moment she had shared back then that eventually led her to the close confidence of Hannah was gone. Just another thought.
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fordmg
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Re: Two questions



Everyman wrote:
Two questions about this bit that I have.

1. Did I overlook the bit where it is explained why Emmeline's male companion would come to a big party with a gun in his coat, and not only that, but would leave it in his coat when he drapes it around the shoulders of a significantly drunk woman ?

2. It is suggested that before running off, Hannah and Teddy had time for a quickie in the summer house. How realistic does this seem? They are escaping to a new life, the motorbike is ready, obviously the agenda for the evening is to go as far as they can before her absence is noticed, but they stop for a quickie late at night in a presumably unheated summer house on what we are told on page 461 was a cool night and on 462 was "rather cold" for June, which isn't a hot month in England at the best of times?




I don't think the pregnancy is a result of a quickie. I think Hannah was pregnant before she returned to Riverton. That may be why she agreed to run off with Robbie.
The time frames are not very straight forward here -
MG
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paula_02912
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Re: PART FOUR: The Tape

istoria wrote: "I don't know if it's so much Grace feels responsible for Robbie's death. I think it was far more important to her that she lost Hannah's trust. I think the Foxhound was more a representation of that trust, that the perfect moment she had shared back then that eventually led her to the close confidence of Hannah was gone. Just another thought."

Istoria, that reading is a good one...I didn't think of the foxhound representing the broken trust between both Hannah and Grace...I can see why you could make that inference though...would you say that the trust was broken because of Grace bringing Emmeline to the lake and exposing her secret or her not knowing how to read shorthand? I know that the shorthand issue has been discussed to death in another thread, but I am just curious to see what you think...If I were to say that the dead foxhound represented the loss of trust between the two, it would be the former reason....
Peace and love,
Paula R.

"Adversity causes some people to break, but causes others to break records."

Author Unknown
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paula_02912
Posts: 492
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: PART FOUR: The Tape

Pepper wrote: "One of the questions that has been haunting me about HAR -- and it may be discussed elsewhere where I have not read yet, but did Kate Morton intend this entire story as an elaborate commentary on 911 (and similar catastrophes)? Where did the catastrophe "start"? Where, if any, is blame, guilt, responsibility, cause and effect, culpability, accountability ...? On the agents who had clues but did not reveal them or were buried by the bureaucratic processes? By social and structural expectations and disappointments? By perverted visions of self-protection? By deliberate subversion of societal norms and decency? ..."

Pepper, these are all very interesting questions...at times, while I was reading, I got the sense that Ms. Morton was making a social commentary on today's youth, the instability of people's lives, but I didn't think to look deeper into the "war" issues that she talks about...I am interested in seeing what her response would be to this question...did you ask her in the Questions for the Author thread? I think that you should...
Peace and love,
Paula R.

"Adversity causes some people to break, but causes others to break records."

Author Unknown
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paula_02912
Posts: 492
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Two questions

fordmg wrote: "I don't think the pregnancy is a result of a quickie. I think Hannah was pregnant before she returned to Riverton. That may be why she agreed to run off with Robbie."

fordmg, I agree with your statement...I believe that Hannah was aware that she was pregnant before going to Riverton, hence the reason why she was happy and smiling...I came to this conclusion, because the photograph, in which Grace's mother had a similar look on her face, for me, was the tool Ms. Morton used to foreshadow this event...I have stated many times, that I beleive Ms. Morton uses every piece of information given to us in the book...each thing has some meaning or connection to the unfolding of Hannah and Grace's story, so it was natural for me to hark back to the photograph when Grace described Hannah almost the same way she described the way her mother looked in the picture...
Peace and love,
Paula R.

"Adversity causes some people to break, but causes others to break records."

Author Unknown
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KathyS
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My dear Dr. Watson?

Pepper, as always, a thoughtful post. I think you've worked it through with this one.

As far as the remaining characters, I guess it's left to a future voice. It's hard to speculate with, or about, characters left at the ending....If we weren't incorporated into a fuller scenario, I think it's because they weren't crucial to the resolution of this ending. Just as the many minute threads of unresolved pieces in our own lives. We've certainly scrutinized these characters to the enth degree.

I think when an author starts you out with a dream sequence, your mindset is to start looking to all of those facts that will lead you through, and to, finding the ending of the story. It's a psychological mind tickler. Just as Sherlock Holmes would work you through the twists and turns, with his whatifs; and probing one set of facts, begetting another......all mysteries that need to be solved, with the help of Dr. Watson, of course. We've become the Dr. Watson to Kate's Sherlock - Grace.

I don't know the significance of the Holmes title, other than to suggest that Grace has the mindset of someone who likes to know the answers. She said, "I was not a rebel - indeed, back then I had a fierce sense of duty - but to live without Holmes and Watson was unthinkable." Grace and the reader also become synonymous; the one without the other is impossible.....Kate's knowledge in her research doesn't seem to leave a stone unturned.

Kathy S.
Correspondent
m3girl
Posts: 194
Registered: ‎03-02-2007
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Re: PART FOUR: The Tape

Notes from the chapter:

1. It is interesting when Hannah gives Grace the locket - there is something in it but we don't know what it is right away.

2. And then we learn the meaning of Hannah's earlier comment about reading shorthand. Too bad - really too bad that Grace never learned short hand. And also more on Hannah's character - I mean really - when would Grace had time to learn shorthand - she was always working at Riverton.

3. I kept wondering how a gun would end up down at the lake - and the gun in the guys jacket that Emmeline is wearing makes sense....

4. Did Emmeline really have no idea about Hannah and Robbie - or did she choose to ignore all of the hints along the way? I was surprised that Deborah had not told her.

5. The fireworks and the gun shot....and it ends up being Hannah as the shooter - to save her sister from the now somewhat crazed Robbie. The fireworks make him sort of crazy - an effect of the war. And then Emmeline makes up the story to cover for her sister.

A fantastic ending - ... yet there was one more page...
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CanTri
Posts: 51
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: PART FOUR: The Tape

On p. 427 it talks about Hannah/Teddy moving back to Riverton and Hannah taking to long walks out to the back meadow and returning for lunch with grass seeds in her skirts. Grace states that she "displayed a surprising elevation in mood when we returned to Riverton. I had suspected leaving Robbie would devastate her, had prepared myself for the worst. But I was wrong."

I had thought that maybe she was meeting Robbie out in the meadow...

But then on the next page it talks about her having a letter that Grace offers to post for her but she wants to do it herself. "Hannah had a secret".

So I'm guessing she was already pregnant before they came to Riverton.

The only other person that could question the child's timing is Teddy and he (probably most men at the time) wasn't really in tune to asking about women's issues or being part of the birthing process.
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Peppermill
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Re: PART FOUR: The Tape

Paula -- thanks for your comments. Unfortunately, I didn't get back to this thread until tonight and it is too late to post a question to Ms. Morton. But as I go back to trace tidbits, I become more and more convinced that she spins a tale at several levels simultaneously -- whether this particular one, I'm not certain.


paula_02912 wrote:
Pepper wrote: "One of the questions that has been haunting me about HAR -- and it may be discussed elsewhere where I have not read yet, but did Kate Morton intend this entire story as an elaborate commentary on 911 (and similar catastrophes)? Where did the catastrophe "start"? Where, if any, is blame, guilt, responsibility, cause and effect, culpability, accountability ...? On the agents who had clues but did not reveal them or were buried by the bureaucratic processes? By social and structural expectations and disappointments? By perverted visions of self-protection? By deliberate subversion of societal norms and decency? ..."

Pepper, these are all very interesting questions...at times, while I was reading, I got the sense that Ms. Morton was making a social commentary on today's youth, the instability of people's lives, but I didn't think to look deeper into the "war" issues that she talks about...I am interested in seeing what her response would be to this question...did you ask her in the Questions for the Author thread? I think that you should...
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Responsibility?


goingeast wrote:
Peppermill wrote (selected excerpt): "To tell her story to him may not be just to give him an end to his writers block, but to give him a parallel for his own trip of guilt."
-------------------------------------------------
Thank you for that insight. I had been wondering what meaning or purpose it would have for him. Do you think she included in her memoir the information about Ursula? Would that help him with his grief? Is he likely to tell Ursula?

Ann, goingeast

Thanks, Ann. It just seems to me that this old lady, with all her experience, her education, her digging around musty pasts as an archaeologist, must have reached a point of realizing the (sometimes) differences between what the heart and what logic tell one. While Grace must have recognized in her head that she wasn't guilty for the deaths of Robbie, Hannah, and Emmie, I think Grace still acknowledges a need for atonement before she dies. Furthermore, I think she recognizes that her grandson needs to work through similar issues of guilt around Rebecca's death. She honors his astuteness as a writer by offering him a story rather than a lecture.

Did Robbie tell Ursula? I like to think that he did and that it either became their story, too close to share beyond their families, or they used it to collaborate on script and film -- the astonishing follow-up to Ursula's earlier documentary.
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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