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KxBurns
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PART THREE: Catching Butterflies

We could spend this whole thread just talking about page 271! I won't type out the entire page but do take another look at this page and share your thoughts.

Grace's reflections at the spring fair include the following:
"It is a lot to ask of one man, to bear the strain of countless tragedies, bear witness to countless echoes of death" (p. 270). This remark once again draws our attention to the parallel between soldiers and servants, for Grace herself has been burdened with the strain of some tragedy.

As for the events from back in 1919, a few things I took note of:
- what flicker is reignited in Hannah when she views the nude sketch? Is there a connection between this and the viewing of the Picasso painting in the library with Robbie all those years ago?
- the image of Hannah, on the last day of her honeymoon, wearing the mink wrap with "brittle little paws and dull black eyes" (p. 277) reminds me of Grace's dream in the "Ghosts Stir" chapter.
- in this chapter, Grace officially goes from housemaid to lady's maid. What changes, if any, do you observe in her?
- Deborah's "wolfish smile" marks her as a predator, a suspicion that is confirmed when she thwarts Hannah's hopes for a job, once again.

Life among the Luxtons sounds very much like the version of her life that Hannah so dreaded – cut off from intellectual stimulation, excluded from political talk and exotic travel, and lonely...
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dhaupt
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Re: PART THREE: Catching Butterflies

I took the flicker to mean perhaps that Hannah momentarily was back to being her old sassy self, considering something out of the norm a flashback to her sufferage days.
I am also wondering why they find it so hard to keep maids at #17 until I read on and meet the reasons why. Grace must have found it heartbreaking to leave a real family in the staff at Riverton to come to #17 in the presence of Mrs. Tibbit and Mr. Boyle who only like their own company and it seems only take pleasure in others griefs. I noticed that Grace seemed more confident in her duties, maybe because of the tutoring of Mr. Hamilton but I think as Hannah's maid she found her niche.
I wonder if Teddy was unhappy at first after his defeat in politics having to work for his father which earlier he was opposed to? I also wonder if things would have turned out differently if good old Deb would have gone back to NY.
I felt sorry for Emmeline in this chapter her outdated clothes and was glad that she and Hannah became friends again.
I dislike Deb more and more and wanted to take that hat pin and stick her with it, what a weasel. And Hannah's remark that she would like to have a hand at running the house which means either Deb or Estelle run it. What a shame.
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psujulie
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Re: PART THREE: Catching Butterflies

I like the name of the chapter -- Catching Butteflies -- and Grace's description of her thoughts. "My thoughts are skimming. Coming quickly, fully formed, then slipping away before I can properly grasp them. Like catching a butterfly." I really saw in this chapter that Grace is an old woman. She seems easily distracted and quite confused at times. As Grace gets closer to telling us her secrets, she seems to get much more anxious.

I loved all the reference on page 270 to the war monument. I also appreciated the references to the soldier's duties. "No wonder he is crumbling," Grace notes. I feel in this chapter that she, too, is crumbling with the weight of her duty and secrets. As Grace futher describes the results of the wars, I notice that she talks about disillusionment. I am guessing that Grace feels not only disillusionment from the wars, but possibly from the entire tragedy that is going to play out. She also mentions that "wars make history seem deceptively simple" -- "the past, is not like that." I think she is warning us that things aren't that clear. There are many factors that lead to any action - hindsight is 50/50.

I thought the description of the alleyway on page 273 represents Hannah and her decision to take a different path. Of course, Grace had no choice but to follow. I'm not sure what this path is yet, but I sense that this is a foreshadowing. She was drawn to the alleyway and later the painting almost as if she were captured in a spell. I think she saw in the picture what she wished she could be -- dangerous, subversive, exotic, and honest. I do think she was reminded of the picture and conversation with Robbie in her grandfather's library. Robbie didn't find the Picasso indecent "Nothing so honest could ever be indecent."

I thought the description of the mink wrap was very interesting. I have to admit that I totally missed the link to the dream, but I did think it was a great juxtaposition to the painting. How ironic that it was a dead animal that she ended up with instead of a vibrant painting of a live woman. I also imagine that Hannah's eyes were probably rather dull too since she had nothing in her life which gave her passion.

I also found it quite sad that Grace's new home put her with a staff that was so unlike that staff at Riverton. There is no way that she is going to feel any sort of friendship or family tie to these people. I wonder if that situation is going to make Grace even lonelier and therefore closer to Hannah.

I thought Grace's words on page 273 were very important -- "Who needed love when there was so much else in the offing?" I think Grace is pointing out that Hannah didn't know what she was missing at this point in her life because she still saw her life as having lots of opportunities. However, by the end of the chapter, we see that Hannah isn't going to have the life she imagined as Teddy's wife. Does this mean that she will be looking for love to fill that void?

I don't have a whole lot more to add on Deborah -- she is such an unlikeable character and so pushy!!! The description of her smile as wolfish was great, but I also liked the description of her hand -- wax gone cold. You can just sense that she is trouble. I also like the predator/animal description of her when Hannah and Emmeline were discussing Frederick -- "her ears had pricked, with Alsatian hunger.." It seems like with her entrance that Hannah has even less say in things with the family. I could sense Hannah's disappointment when Deborah told her that she couldn't take on the job as editor -- once again a reference to a predator "...the surprise of a predator interested briefly in its prey." Deborah seemed to have the knowledge and political insight that Hannah was discouraged from pursuing and discussing. Did anyone else sense foreboding when Deborah says, "I'm the soul of descretion?"
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BevS
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Re: PART THREE: Catching Butterflies

Hannah just wanted to spread her wings, yet was unable to time and again. Thank goodness women are not put into little boxes now like they were then!
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Peppermill
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Re: PART THREE: Catching Butterflies


BevS wrote: Hannah just wanted to spread her wings, yet was unable to time and again. Thank goodness women are not put into little boxes now like they were then!
Doesn't that depend on what you call little boxes? And where you are on this planet?

Is Morton doing a literary bye to Nabokov's lepidopterology interests here? (Lolita and butterflies?)
"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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bentley
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Re: PART THREE: Catching Butterflies

Catching Butterflies is an interesting chapter and marks the turning point in the novel itself. Once again things start going from bad to worse for the Hartford family.


PAGE 271:

It seems that the author digresses to talk of war, disillusionment and depression. It seems that she is saying that "we learn from history, that we do not learn from history". That could be the irony of the novel itself: each generation does not seem to learn from the one before or from their parents, they seem to need to strike out on their own and make their own mistakes in their own way; whether it is folly or not. I think that all of these events and lives have turning points where other decisions may have been chosen or not. Sort of like the message of Robert Frost's famous poet which discusses "the road not taken which would have made all of the difference" (paraphrased).

A flicker reinunited:

For me it might have been a sexual reawakening for Hannah or feelings that she did not have for her husband at all. It could have been a reminder of the Picasso or of her brief encounter with Robbie (David's friends) or the forbidden mental adventures of The Game. Or maybe it was a reawakening of her spirit which had been dashed to bits when she made the ultimate sacrifice of her dreams and goals. It was understandable for Grace to say:
"I longed to return to England, to a place where the rules were clear and everybody knew their place." For me the fur wrap represented Hannah's hopes and dreams (dead, brittle, dull lifeless eyes, extinct).

Changes in Grace:

Grace learned now not only about maintaining one's place but now she had to isolate herself and watch her back. After leaving Riverton and her mother, there was nobody to watch out for her and be her support system. One can see where the reservedness, boundaries and repression had its origin. She was a stranger to this sort of existence and she had to mutate and adapt.

Deborah:

She reminded me of the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood when she says to Hannah "I just know we're going to be the best of friends." Already, she is chipping away at Hannah and Teddy's marriage and usurping Hannah's authority. Although Hannah flinching every time her husband gives her a kiss is not a healthy sign. Her staying with the newly married couple was the nail in the coffin and helped destroy the fledgling new marriage. I see her as quite the dictatorial monster and Hannah should have told Teddy immediately of her misgivings and her dislike of the usurping of her authority as the mistress of the house. Frankly, I think she was set up as a spy in their house by Teddy's parents.

Bentley
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lamorgan
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Re: PART THREE: Catching Butterflies

Hannah seems to be enthralled with the nude sketch perhaps because she identified with it so strongly. She probably feels exposed, especially by Deborah's invasion into her life. It can be compared to dreams people have about being out in public without their clothes.
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seattle07
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Re: PART THREE: Catching Butterflies

I agree that life as a Luxton isn’t what Hannah imagined it would be like.
She thought her marriage would be a chance to gain more freedom. Teddy was looking for the "right sort of wife". It seems like their relationship will be similar to Mr. & Mrs. Luxton's marriage "their marriage as one of practical endurance. A symbiotic relationship whose usefulness had long outlived its passion." (p.214) I wonder how much passion there is between Hannah and Teddy, as stated before it's not a good sign that she flinches when he kisses her cheek.
I like Bentley’s theory that Deborah was sent by the parents to spy on the newlyweds. Deborah is pretty awful!
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Carmenere_lady
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Re: PART THREE: Catching Butterflies



lamorgan wrote:
Hannah seems to be enthralled with the nude sketch perhaps because she identified with it so strongly. She probably feels exposed, especially by Deborah's invasion into her life. It can be compared to dreams people have about being out in public without their clothes.




As you said lamorgan "She probably feels exposed" , but I think what Hannah wants is more exposure! She wants to be exposed to adventure, new experiences, life outside boundries, shoot she was willing to go back to the alley to make a trade for the painting she so wanted. Too bad Hannah didn't have a confidante/a soul mate in the Riverton house to express her feelings to and propel her to achieve her dreams. Grace might have been this person if their stations in life seperated them from truly being friends or had not David been killed. How dare women like Lady Clem to snuff out lives of intelligent/outside the mold women for social standing/money :smileysad: Oooh those are rough words but I like Hannah and sympathize with her situation.
Lynda

"I think of literature.....as a vast country to the far borders of which I am journeying but will never reach."
The Uncommon Reader


"You've been running around naked in the stacks again, haven't you?"
"Um, maybe."
The Time Traveler's Wife

It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part.
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crazyasitsounds
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Re: PART THREE: Catching Butterflies

I thought Hannah would be disappointed by her marriage, but I never thought it would be this bad. I don't like the way Grace changed, either. She seems to feel like she's better than the rest of the servants, & it's not flattering. I guess maybe it's just because she's been at the low end of the hierarchy for so long that she relishes the small amount of respect she can get.
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bookhunter
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Re: PART THREE: Catching Butterflies



dhaupt wrote:
...I dislike Deb more and more and wanted to take that hat pin and stick her with it, what a weasel. ...




It would seem like Deborah would be someone Hannah could befriend. She is doing what Hannah has dreamed of doing--traveling and working. It is a shame that Deborah does not recognize that and "make nice." She should be encouraging Hannah to explore options instead of shooting them down.

Is it jealousy of her brother's wife? Is it a control thing? Only DEBORAH can be the cool career woman? Would Deborah REALLY settle down if she met the right man? Hmmmm.

Ann, bookhunter
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bookhunter
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Re: PART THREE: Catching Butterflies


crazyasitsounds wrote:
... I don't like the way Grace changed, either. She seems to feel like she's better than the rest of the servants, & it's not flattering. I guess maybe it's just because she's been at the low end of the hierarchy for so long that she relishes the small amount of respect she can get.




I am not sure I agree with you here, Crazy. Throughout the novel Grace is quiet and reserved, and maybe in this chapter it comes across as "haughty," but I think she is just being shy in her new surroundings.

What Grace wanted was to become a Lady's maid, and now she has achieved her dream... while Hannah's are being snuffed out. And I am sure that this new position is not at all what she thought it would be, just like Hannah. Grace is in a hostile environment, and just like Deborah is described at a predator Hannah should look out for, that downstairs staff seems to be what Grace needs to be wary of.

So the lesson here is to set your sights really low, then you won't be disappointed when you don't achieve your dreams!!:smileywink:

Ann, bookhunter
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bookhunter
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Re: PART THREE: Catching Butterflies


bentley wrote:
...For me it might have been a sexual reawakening for Hannah or feelings that she did not have for her husband at all. It could have been a reminder of the Picasso or of her brief encounter with Robbie (David's friends) or the forbidden mental adventures of The Game. Or maybe it was a reawakening of her spirit which had been dashed to bits when she made the ultimate sacrifice of her dreams and goals.




I do not really feel like she made the ultimate sacrifice in marrying Teddy. I think at first she saw him as a path TO her goals and dreams. He wanted to travel, be involved in politics, seemed "progressive" It was a sacrifice, for sure, because she marries instead of going to work, but I think she sincerely thinks it will be the best for her.

But I think the dark alley in Paris and scandalous offer is that different path (like psujulie says above) that she WANTS to take, DREAMS to take, PLOTS to take,...then is shot down by Teddy. Just the way the marraige is going to be. She has hopes it can take her places and awaken things in her, but it doesn't.

Ann, bookhunter
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vivico1
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Re: PART THREE: Catching Butterflies


bookhunter wrote:


So the lesson here is to set your sights really low, then you won't be disappointed when you don't achieve your dreams!!:smileywink:

Ann, bookhunter


LOLLOL my gosh Ann, what a depressing thought! lol, but funny lol.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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vivico1
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Re: PART THREE: Catching Butterflies/ the painting

I really dont see the painting in the alley as reminding Hannah of the Picasso at home. This was a staight forward realistic painting of a naked woman sitting. With most of Picasso, and his bits and pieces of bodies, you could stand there all day saying..thats a boob??? Now if what they had had at Riverton was a Reuben, with his paintings of full bodies nude women, reclined often and at ease, I could see her comparing them. It is possible yes, that this painting makes her think of Robbie and his words about the painting not being indecent but honest. What I really think tho is that Hannah is so terribly bored now and she has always wanted to fly close to the flame of life, thats what took her down a dangerous alley to begin with. She is more the Icarus than the boys,she always wants to fly near the sun and her desires for adventure, danger, things not allowed a woman at the time, may get her in trouble, terrible trouble yet. I worried too that she would actually go back and do a setting, tho it would have been interesting to see what that would have caused.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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vivico1
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Re: PART THREE: Catching Butterflies/Grace's changes

Grace has to make some changes, in becoming a lady's maid. She is now responsible for the care of her lady in many ways and the station among servants is also a higher one. I dont see her as becoming snobbish about it at all, she needs friends and wants to be a part of some type of family but she does now have the right to give them some orders of her station, such as to see to it her lady's things are taken to where they need to be and show her where her room is, etc. She is not bossy in this, its just part of what she takes care of now. Lets face it, Grace's young life is about making changes and adapting and tho sometimes she may have a bit of a time with it, she knows its part of her life and does pretty well at all she is asked to do.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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vivico1
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Re: PART THREE: Catching Butterflies/ The households

Deborah and life with the Luxtons vs Riverton:

You know what I noticed. Deborah and her parents are all preditors quite frankly and rude, uncaring. I hate to see Teddy working with his father and now fading into that same thing. What he and Hannah could have been together is fading fast and so are Hannah's dreams.

What is interesting is that the servants characters or attitudes seem to mimic that of the masters of the house at each place. The servants here are nasty and backbiting and keep losing maids, no wonder and Grace really has to watch her back with them, so she is isolated from that family that she felt with the servants at Riverton. These servants are as "self serving" as the Luxtons themselves. Deborah wants to see Hannah miserable and Mrs. Tibbit takes great pleasure in the misery of others or causing it. At Riverton, even if the families, that of the Masters, and that of the servants, was not always what they should be, they tried to be there for each other in some way or at least do what was necessary for proprietary reasons. The Luxton's household would eat Alfred alive. I still think what I was thinking during the dinner, that Hannah's father may not have been so opposed to what she wanted to do in the end, as she thought and gave up on. Here, with the Luxton's, her escape,has now escaped her.


Hannah and Grace are both alone now. This may be where they really start to bond on a more equal basis. Will be interesting to see. If Hannah doesn't self implode that is.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Carmenere_lady
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Re: PART THREE: Catching Butterflies



bookhunter wrote:


dhaupt wrote:
...I dislike Deb more and more and wanted to take that hat pin and stick her with it, what a weasel. ...




It would seem like Deborah would be someone Hannah could befriend. She is doing what Hannah has dreamed of doing--traveling and working. It is a shame that Deborah does not recognize that and "make nice." She should be encouraging Hannah to explore options instead of shooting them down.

Is it jealousy of her brother's wife? Is it a control thing? Only DEBORAH can be the cool career woman? Would Deborah REALLY settle down if she met the right man? Hmmmm.

Ann, bookhunter




Someone explain this to me please: Why is it when Hannah wants to have an intelligent conversation about politics, Teddy tells her it is her job to "look after the wives" "Because it's the rules. I didn't make them, but I have to stick to them." and Deborah seems to be able to have a job, travel etc, everything that Hannah wanted to do. Why are these two women so different, do you think it is because one grew up in the states where things were more liberal? Yet her father Mr. Luxton was very conservative. I just don't understand.
Lynda

"I think of literature.....as a vast country to the far borders of which I am journeying but will never reach."
The Uncommon Reader


"You've been running around naked in the stacks again, haven't you?"
"Um, maybe."
The Time Traveler's Wife

It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part.
Voltaire
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Tarri
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Re: PART THREE: Catching Butterflies



Carmenere_lady wrote:


bookhunter wrote:


dhaupt wrote:
...I dislike Deb more and more and wanted to take that hat pin and stick her with it, what a weasel. ...




It would seem like Deborah would be someone Hannah could befriend. She is doing what Hannah has dreamed of doing--traveling and working. It is a shame that Deborah does not recognize that and "make nice." She should be encouraging Hannah to explore options instead of shooting them down.

Is it jealousy of her brother's wife? Is it a control thing? Only DEBORAH can be the cool career woman? Would Deborah REALLY settle down if she met the right man? Hmmmm.

Ann, bookhunter




Someone explain this to me please: Why is it when Hannah wants to have an intelligent conversation about politics, Teddy tells her it is her job to "look after the wives" "Because it's the rules. I didn't make them, but I have to stick to them." and Deborah seems to be able to have a job, travel etc, everything that Hannah wanted to do. Why are these two women so different, do you think it is because one grew up in the states where things were more liberal? Yet her father Mr. Luxton was very conservative. I just don't understand.




I think that because Deborah is single and raised in America, the rules are different. Also, in one of the earlier chapters (page 221) it states that her job is a little, unimportant job, which will keep her occupied until she marries. It's also obvious that Simion does not approve.

The Luxtons are, in my opinion, each one worse than the other. I have no doubt in my mind that when we get to know Teddy, we will find that he is not the person that he seems.
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vivico1
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Re: PART THREE: Catching Butterflies


Tarri wrote:


Carmenere_lady wrote:


bookhunter wrote:


dhaupt wrote:
...I dislike Deb more and more and wanted to take that hat pin and stick her with it, what a weasel. ...




It would seem like Deborah would be someone Hannah could befriend. She is doing what Hannah has dreamed of doing--traveling and working. It is a shame that Deborah does not recognize that and "make nice." She should be encouraging Hannah to explore options instead of shooting them down.

Is it jealousy of her brother's wife? Is it a control thing? Only DEBORAH can be the cool career woman? Would Deborah REALLY settle down if she met the right man? Hmmmm.

Ann, bookhunter




Someone explain this to me please: Why is it when Hannah wants to have an intelligent conversation about politics, Teddy tells her it is her job to "look after the wives" "Because it's the rules. I didn't make them, but I have to stick to them." and Deborah seems to be able to have a job, travel etc, everything that Hannah wanted to do. Why are these two women so different, do you think it is because one grew up in the states where things were more liberal? Yet her father Mr. Luxton was very conservative. I just don't understand.




I think that because Deborah is single and raised in America, the rules are different. Also, in one of the earlier chapters (page 221) it states that her job is a little, unimportant job, which will keep her occupied until she marries. It's also obvious that Simion does not approve.

The Luxtons are, in my opinion, each one worse than the other. I have no doubt in my mind that when we get to know Teddy, we will find that he is not the person that he seems.


Yes and besides, what a man is willing to accept in his sister, is not always the same as what he expects in his wife. Its like when men are drawn to you for dressing sexy before you are married and after you are married, you better wear long loose fitting dresses, nothing to attract anyone AT ALL!
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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