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KxBurns
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PART TWO: Bankers

The feeling that the fortunes of all Riverton's inhabitants are in decline pervades this chapter.

As many of you astutely pointed out in earlier discussions of class and servitude, the end of the war does in fact bring social upheaval to manor houses like Riverton. In "Bankers," we discover that war has made Nancy even less shy about speaking her mind. On top of that, a Miss Starling is on the scene, moving back and forth between upstairs and downstairs in a way that scandalizes the staff. Alfred has returned changed, no longer his affable self, and actually drops a tray and its contents on Emmeline.

The aristocracy also appears to be losing its sure footing. Rooms throughout the house are being closed and furniture sold, and Frederick's business struggles necessitate his mingling with the likes of the Luxtons, whose money is new and suspiciously American.

Theodore Luxton must be the Teddy of Grace's memory. Knowing as we do that he eventually has some kind of leadership role at Riverton, can we assume that he is destined to marry Hannah or Emmeline?

The Hartford family is also in turmoil, in the wake of David's death. Tensions between Frederick and Lady Violet are high, and Hannah in particular seems to feel the loss of her brother keenly. In this chapter she is reading Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (a personal favorite of mine!), a book in which the main character Stephen Dedalus – as in, Daedalus, father of Icarus – comes of age and decides to leave home to pursue his creative dreams. So maybe it will be Hannah who tempts fate by stretching her wings?

Grace observes: "She was the eldest now and had inherited the vague, relentless, unsolicited responsibility such familial rank demanded" (p. 205). This is a burden she shares with her father, and in this chapter we get an inkling of how she may rebel against such obligation. It seems unlikely that she will follow in Fanny's pitiable footsteps: "Newly married and trapped, on honeymoon, with a Strange Man" (p. 200).

The reader is left to wonder whether Hannah's desire for independence and a career will lead her to defy and embarrass her father in front of the Luxtons, and to eventually abandon Emmeline?

I'm starting to get that same sense of impending doom that Grace seems to have when she relives these memories!

Karen
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sher898
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Re: PART TWO: Bankers

I am a new to BN Book clubs and new to this type of book ( I am a avid Stephen king and mystical novels) BUT I am very glad I took the opportunity to get this book! This chapter really caught my interest And I can't wait till the end of the day when I can read!! Anyone else that had trouble getting through the first part -- the second comes to life for me!

Thanks for letting me in!
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Psycmo
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Re: PART TWO: Bankers

Sher898,

I am struggling with this book so I was glad to see your post. I read a variety of genres, but I am feeling like I am STILL spending time waiting for this book to get really started. I am find the characters somewhat predictable demonstrating an almost intolerable level of adolescence in both the characters and the character development. I am finding that the description of people and places is leaving me wanting more. I guess at this point I am just conflicted and find that I am working to really get into this book and have actually "cheated" and read 2 other books while keeping this one as a bit of a chore breaking my own habit (read rule :smileyhappy: ) of reading one book at a time!

Mo
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grapes
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Re: PART TWO: Bankers

Alfred's return from the war and his sudden change are very "real." He is the definition and description of the word "shell shock." I am reading about him and wondering if there is a chance or hope that his life will become better. At this time, he seems lost to those who care about him. Grace knows he's totally different. Her knowledge doesn't help her to know how to bring him out of himself, away from the horrors of war and back to the safety of the homefront. I feel very sorry for Alfred. This one character brings to mind all the men who suffered in the war, coming back to their families as strangers.

Grapes
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grapes
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Re: PART TWO: Bankers

Hannah's spirit to be independent is strong. She has taken a secretarial course. There is no way she is going to fold her hands and not put her shorthand and business skills to good use. I can't imagine how the dinner will turn out if Hannah goes on with her plan to discuss the matter in front of the Luxtons. I fear her father will become very angry. I am not sure this is the best way to tell her father.

Grace showed her ability to keep a secret, remain loyal. She doesn't tell anyone that she saw Hannah coming out of the secretarial school.

This is a book about change. The whole society is in flux. Women are looking for a different role, men are coming home from the war changed, the word unions, assembly lines is being thrown about. It's like all the characters in the book are involved in some sort of upheaval.
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grapes
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Re: PART TWO: Bankers

Thinking of Icarus, doesn't David defy fate by stretching his wings? He goes off to the war. He's shot down, dies. I think Icarus fell from the sky because he flew to close to the sun. When men become soldiers, sacrificing their lives for others, isn't it like they have chosen to be Icarus?
Grapes
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dhaupt
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Re: PART TWO: Bankers

I don't know if all aristocracy is loosing footing just at Riverton where Frederick continues his ill fated reign and is counting on his "Bankers" to get him out of hot water.
Lucy a seemingly minor character (now) appears for the first time upsetting the balance of the house according to the servants, and this is the greatest show of change in the structure of the classes that happens in this chapter I think.
I think it's significant that Emmeline compares herself to Juliet, and that Fanny finally gives up the chase for Frederick.
I've felt impending doom since I opened the book.
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kiakar
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Re: PART TWO: Bankers



dhaupt wrote:
I don't know if all aristocracy is loosing footing just at Riverton where Frederick continues his ill fated reign and is counting on his "Bankers" to get him out of hot water.
Lucy a seemingly minor character (now) appears for the first time upsetting the balance of the house according to the servants, and this is the greatest show of change in the structure of the classes that happens in this chapter I think.
I think it's significant that Emmeline compares herself to Juliet, and that Fanny finally gives up the chase for Frederick.
I've felt impending doom since I opened the book.




Yes, something is definitely going to happen. One or two scenor's have got to hit the fan sooner or later. We are almost half way now. It will happen soon enought. I think this will be a book I will hate to put down.
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psujulie
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Re: PART TWO: Bankers

What a depressing chapter! I can definitely see trajedy building for all of the characters. I really saw the differences between the two sisters building in this chapter. Hannah is so sad and depressed -- we see her reading book, while Emmeline is worried about her dress, romanticizing about boys/men, and listening to love songs! I think Hannah is feeling more responsiblility since David's death, plus she misses him terribly.



KxBurns wrote:
In this chapter she is reading Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (a personal favorite of mine!), a book in which the main character Stephen Dedalus – as in, Daedalus, father of Icarus – comes of age and decides to leave home to pursue his creative dreams. So maybe it will be Hannah who tempts fate by stretching her wings?


I really love the reference to Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, although I'm probably not going to be able to discuss it as it deserves. I may have read the book in high school (years ago), but I don't remember any details. I was wondering if there were any ties between the main character (Dedalus) and Robbie? Both were characters who tried to find their ways as artists. In addition, didn't both characters try to separate themselves from their fathers? I also see that there could be a case made for Hannah having things in common with the Dedalus character.

I saw the triangle theme again in this chapter on pg. 194. "David's death had dismantled the triangle, and an enclosed space was now open. Two points are unreliable, with nothing to anchor them, there is nothing to stop them drifting in opposite directions. If it is string that binds, it will eventually snap and the points will separate; if elastic, they will continue to part, further and further, until the strain reaches its limit and they are pulled back with such speed that they cannot help but collide with devastating force." I am assuming that Hannah and Emmeline might be bound by elastic. It seems that Grace is foreshadowing the trajedy that occurs.

I thought it was interesting how Grace felt when Hannah told Emmeline about her secretarial courses. Grace says, "...I lost something. A small confidence, long cherished was released. I felt it slip away, float down amid the silks and satins, until it landed amongst the flecks of silent dust on the dark wardrobe floor and I could see it no more." With that vivid description, I could actually feel Grace's loss. She so much wanted to be part of something.
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bookhunter
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Re: PART TWO: Bankers

Favorite passage:

"There were two now where they had been three. David's death had dismantled the triangle, and an enclosed space was now open. Two points are unreliable; with nothing to anchor them, there is nothing to stop them drifting in opposite directions. If it is string that binds, it will eventually snap and the points will separate; if elastic, they will continue to part, further and further, until the strain reaches its limit and they are pulled back with such speed that they cannot help but collide with devastating force."

And Hannah and Emmeline definitely seem to be drifting apart in their interests.

Ann, bookhunter
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bookhunter
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Re: PART TWO: Bankers



KxBurns wrote:
...The Hartford family is also in turmoil, in the wake of David's death. Tensions between Frederick and Lady Violet are high, and Hannah in particular seems to feel the loss of her brother keenly. In this chapter she is reading Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (a personal favorite of mine!), a book in which the main character Stephen Dedalus – as in, Daedalus, father of Icarus – comes of age and decides to leave home to pursue his creative dreams. So maybe it will be Hannah who tempts fate by stretching her wings?

Grace observes: "She was the eldest now and had inherited the vague, relentless, unsolicited responsibility such familial rank demanded" (p. 205). This is a burden she shares with her father, and in this chapter we get an inkling of how she may rebel against such obligation. It seems unlikely that she will follow in Fanny's pitiable footsteps: "Newly married and trapped, on honeymoon, with a Strange Man" (p. 200).

The reader is left to wonder whether Hannah's desire for independence and a career will lead her to defy and embarrass her father in front of the Luxtons, and to eventually abandon Emmeline?

I'm starting to get that same sense of impending doom that Grace seems to have when she relives these memories!

Karen




Hannah was already on a slightly different path than Emmeline's with her progressive thinking and her stenography classes. I wonder to what extent the death of David will affect her future?

Ann, bookhunter
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Bonnie824
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Franklin's personality and "failure"

Does anyone feel sorry for Frederick? He never seems to be in the right time. His ideas about quality and against assembly line for instance, might have made him rich at another time in history. His feelings about the patriotism about war for male children would get a lot more support today even. His annoyance with young Fanny earlier, although she was perfect upper class second wife material really for his times. Despite his not letting Hannah really grow, he seems to respect her desire to do so at least.
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jabrke
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Re: PART TWO: Bankers



bookhunter wrote:
Favorite passage:

"There were two now where they had been three. David's death had dismantled the triangle, and an enclosed space was now open. Two points are unreliable; with nothing to anchor them, there is nothing to stop them drifting in opposite directions. If it is string that binds, it will eventually snap and the points will separate; if elastic, they will continue to part, further and further, until the strain reaches its limit and they are pulled back with such speed that they cannot help but collide with devastating force."

And Hannah and Emmeline definitely seem to be drifting apart in their interests.

Ann, bookhunter




I agree! Great writing Ms. Morton!
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dhaupt
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Re: Franklin's personality and "failure"

I don't know if I feel sorry for him, but I do empathize with his character, raising his children alone, being the second son with nothing to inherit, trying to make a success of his life without much luck.
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paula_02912
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Re: PART TWO: Bankers

Ann wrote: "There were two now where they had been three. David's death had dismantled the triangle, and an enclosed space was now open. Two points are unreliable; with nothing to anchor them, there is nothing to stop them drifting in opposite directions. If it is string that binds, it will eventually snap and the points will separate; if elastic, they will continue to part, further and further, until the strain reaches its limit and they are pulled back with such speed that they cannot help but collide with devastating force."


Ann, I marked this passage in my book too...David's death was devastating for Hannah...it seemed as if she didn't know what to do with herself once he was gone...and the triad disintergrated with no hopes of coming back together again...does this then mean The Game will no longer be played, or has it surpassed the premise on which they built it in the Nursery?

With the appearance of Theodore Luxton, Teddy, we see Emmeline fall for yet another person, like she did with Robbie...how will his appearance affect the relationship between the sisters? His character seems to be a strong one because he doesn't fall into the light banter that his father seems to have with Mr. Frederick...he also seems to be a more observant fellow...

I also liked the following passage, which occurs on p.202 after Hannah tells Emmeline that no one else knows her secret about learning stenography...

"Veiled amongst the dresses, as Hannah continued to extol the virtues of her training, I lost something. A small confidence, long cherished, was released. I felt it slip away, float down amid the silks and satin, until it landed amongst the flecks of the silent dust on the dark wardrobe floor and I could see it no more." (pp. 202-203)

This passage was very profound to me because in it Grace recognizes that Grace doesn't see her as an "equal," though she might have thought so when the had a shared secret...but, to discount Grace's knowledge of her secret Hannah broke something within Grace...why didn't Hannah reveal that one other person also knew her secret? Was she trying to shield Grace? The imagery in the last line of the passage was very symbolic as well...just the sheer fact that Grace felt that "something" slip away amid the silks and satin (upstairs/aristocracy) into the silent dust on the dark wardrobe floor (downstairs/servitude) until it became invisible was very profound...does it represent the families fall from Grace...from wealth to near poverty? Does it emphasize the fact that Grace's thoughts about her relationship with Hannah were too aggrandized? Did it mean that she finally realized that she wasn't an equal to Hannah? Who knows...

The appearance of Miss Starling in this chapter, made for an interesting shift because of the uncertainty of her position in the house...Grace felt that "the lines between upstairs and down had once been clearly and comfortably drawn," (pp. 191-192) but with Miss Starlings appearance the line was blurred since she was neither a servant or a Mistress of the house...the servants didn't seem to know what to make of it because, as Grace puts it, "she was not one of Them, neither was she one of Us" (p. 192). I think it will be interesting to see how her presence plays a part in furthering the development of the plot of the novel...
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Paula R.

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

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paula_02912
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Re: PART TWO: Bankers

grapes wrote: "Thinking of Icarus, doesn't David defy fate by stretching his wings? He goes off to the war. He's shot down, dies. I think Icarus fell from the sky because he flew to close to the sun. When men become soldiers, sacrificing their lives for others, isn't it like they have chosen to be Icarus?"

grapes these are great questions...I think that you make a great arguement here...I didn't think to see David as Icarus, because I felt that Frederick was more a symbol of this mythological character...Icarus did fall when he flew too close to the sun while fleeing Crete and dies...now that you ask this question, I see how it fits with the fall of Icarus...a very interesting point indeed...
Peace and love,
Paula R.

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

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paula_02912
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Re: PART TWO: Bankers

grapes wrote: "Alfred's return from the war and his sudden change are very "real." He is the definition and description of the word "shell shock."

grapes I agree with you completely...Alfred's experience in the war totally changes his entire demeanor as well as his ability to interact with others on a day to day basis...why do you think that it was important for Morton to spend so much time showing how he is and how the family and the other servants react to him? Will we have to face a similar situation to this later on? I firmly believe that we will because, as I have said numerous times, Ms. Morton doesn't seem to put information in the novel that is superfluous...everything that is said and done has a purpose...
Peace and love,
Paula R.

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

Author Unknown
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Tasses
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Re: PART TWO: Bankers

Perhaps I am just an isolated American, but I couldn't help being a tiny bit offended by the negative connotations towards American money & Americans in general. Did anyone else get that vibe in this chapter? Is this still a prevailing theme in Europe or is Ms. Morton merely parroting the times past? I guess it just spiked a bit of patriotism in me... lol.
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Peppermill
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Re: PART TWO: Bankers


Tasses wrote:
Perhaps I am just an isolated American, but I couldn't help being a tiny bit offended by the negative connotations towards American money & Americans in general. Did anyone else get that vibe in this chapter? Is this still a prevailing theme in Europe or is Ms. Morton merely parroting the times past? I guess it just spiked a bit of patriotism in me... lol.
Tasses -- I laughed when I saw your note. Just having read Edith Wharton's Buccaneers with a B&N board this past year, I didn't even think about the modern connotations of Ms. Morton's descriptions. Wharton's points included the swapping of new American money (resources) for old world aristocracy, prestige, and ancient real estate.

But, given that Ms. Morton writes at around the turn of the millennium, is she embedding a political point to her readers? I haven't weighed that possibility.
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Celebri_la_vita
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Re: PART TWO: Bankers



bookhunter wrote:
Favorite passage:

"There were two now where they had been three. David's death had dismantled the triangle, and an enclosed space was now open. Two points are unreliable; with nothing to anchor them, there is nothing to stop them drifting in opposite directions. If it is string that binds, it will eventually snap and the points will separate; if elastic, they will continue to part, further and further, until the strain reaches its limit and they are pulled back with such speed that they cannot help but collide with devastating force."

And Hannah and Emmeline definitely seem to be drifting apart in their interests.

Ann, bookhunter




I found that to be quite an interesting paragraph. It adds to the sense that things are going to go amiss.
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