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goingeast
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Re: THEMES: Secrets

[ Edited ]

paula_02912 wrote:
goingeastr wrote: "I have one theory. Right before the gun goes off Hannah looks Between Emmeline and Robbie. Perhaps she pointed the gun and shot without aiming at either one specifically. After all, are we to believe that a woman without gun experience was able to point and shoot so accurately? Or perhaps, she may even have tried to shoot Hannah, missed and got Robbie. I never understood why she would aim for his head and kill him rather than just stop him. It still doesn't make sense."

goingeast, wasn't it mentioned somewhere in the book that Hannah knew how to shoot? I forget what page it is...so she was knowledgeable about guns...I seem to recall that she bragged about how good a shot she was too...does anyone else remember this? You could be right in thinking that she really wanted to shoot Emmeline, but as you pointed out, she did aim at Robbie's head, which to me indicated that she knew her way around guns...




Actually, what I was trying to point out is that in the description of what supposedly happened it is stated that Hannah "looked between them...and time stood still" (or something like that). I just thought that when it says Hannah aimed, she may not have been aiming for either one, and she just let fate decide who would get the bullet. Remember also, that after the gun goes off Emmeline is said to have her eyes shut. Why were they still shut after the gun went off? Did she shut her eyes because she thought Hannah was going to shoot her and not Robbie?

In any case there was no real mystery here that the story kept trying to build up. We knew Robbie died, we knew the sisters were involved. The upper crust were always known for covering their scandals. Even Ursula said it was rumoured that Hannah was having an affair with Emmeline's fiance. From the beginning it would have been easy to guess what was going to happen. I just keep looking for something more interesting more secretive that the reader does not already know. I guess that means I was disappointed with the outcome overall.

Just one other point. If the festival and all the noise is what set Robbie off to beating up the man that danced with Hannah, then I find it hard to believe that this didn't ever happen all the times he went with Emmeline to noisy parties with Jazz music and Charleston dancing and all that chaos that went on during the wild parties that he and Emmeline attended. He was always at some party with Emme, (he was always seen in the newspaper with Emme) and yet this never happened in her presence? Surely he must have been at some party where they had fireworks before? Noise? Yes, I guess I'm having a very hard time justifying the ending. Oh well, on to the next book. That biography of William Maxell on the B&N website looks very interesting.

Message Edited by goingeast on 01-18-2008 08:21 AM

Message Edited by goingeast on 01-18-2008 08:23 AM
3M
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Re: THEMES: Secrets



KxBurns wrote:
Why are secrets so damaging? Do the characters in the book who keep secrets do so to protect themselves, or others? How might their fates have been different if their secrets were revealed in another manner?

Karen




I think most people who have secrets say they are doing it for others' benefit, but in most cases I believe it is for themselves.

Secrets are damaging because they can ruin and destroy lives. If nothing else, they can create anger and resentment among those you love.
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bentley
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Re: THEMES: Secrets



3M wrote:


KxBurns wrote:
Why are secrets so damaging? Do the characters in the book who keep secrets do so to protect themselves, or others? How might their fates have been different if their secrets were revealed in another manner?

Karen




I think most people who have secrets say they are doing it for others' benefit, but in most cases I believe it is for themselves.

Secrets are damaging because they can ruin and destroy lives. If nothing else, they can create anger and resentment among those you love.




I think that Grace's deceptions and Hannah's were all self-serving. In this, I saw a family resemblance.
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nfam
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Re: THEMES: Secrets

Secrets run through every phase of this book and ruin the lives of the people keeping them. We have all the illegitimate children. Clearly keeping the secret of his love for Grace's mother drove Frederick to suicide. That and of course, losing his factory and his daughter. The secret Grace keeps leads to tragedy for both sisters and herself as well.

Interestingly people are forced by the social atmosphere to keep the secrets, not just be their desire to belong, as in the case of Grace. Illegitimate children could not be acknowledged any more than illicit love. Divorce just wasn't done in the upper social circles before WWI unless one wanted to lose one's social standing. So lovers all the way through the book are forced to keep the affair secret with devastating consequences for themselves and everyone around them.

I think secrets and the pain that keeping them brings is the central issue of the book.

Nancy
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nfam
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Re: THEMES: Secrets -- DEFINITELY SPOILER INFO



vivico1 wrote:

goingeast wrote:
Bookhunter wrote:
But maybe he WAS leading a secret life. He had his own version of The Game going on? He was headed down to the summer house for his own rendevous with Lord Gifford?

Maybe this is one of those author things where it is part of his backstory that never overtly comes out in the telling of the story--like Dumbledore.

Ann, bookhunter




Actually it was on p.409 when Hannah is talking about Teddy that I first thought about it..."He's never been particularly interested...not even when we were first married...that I realized"

What did she realize if it was not that he is gay? No, I don't blame Teddy either, but if you're husband's not having sex with you, you're going to look for love in all the wrong places. Dontchathink? Were there clues that Dumbledore was gay? How silly.

Ann,goingeast


You know, when David brought Robbie to the house and by the way the talked to each other, and about each other, I wondered if they had something going on. Later, when the older woman, was talking to Teddy's father about Teddy being a man in his mid 30s and not married, people will talk and his father coming to his defense saying, there is nothing wrong with Teddy that way and if there was something about him (cant remember his exact words but refering to lifestyle or sexual preference) that he would know about it. She was saying that as another way to get him on it about getting Teddy married to Hannah. I thought, well nothing changes, if a guy isnt married or hasnt been by his 30s we still "assume". Then further on, when we know Robbie was going to be coming back, I actually wondered if those two would hook up then. That didnt play out tho lol but from things said, it could have gone that direction. I dont know if Teddy is gay, sounds like it in some ways, but seemed like it with Robbie and David too. Guess someone could ask the author if either man was gay in her mind as she wrote this.




I think it's pretty obvious that some of Hannah's attraction for Robbie was her similarity to David. When Hannah and Robbie are on the boat and he tells her that David told him about the game, she is surprised. She says something to the effect that I'm only telling you because we're like this, the insinuation that they're lovers. Robbie says well, let's just leave it that he told me. I thought that was a pretty good indication that he and David had a pretty special relationship. It was more common that you'd think when all the boys were sent away to boarding school and then there was the danger of the War. I think the fact that we had some illusion to men being gay was not all that unusual.

Nancy
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goingeast
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Re: THEMES: Secrets



goingeast wrote:

paula_02912 wrote:
goingeastr wrote: "I have one theory. Right before the gun goes off Hannah looks Between Emmeline and Robbie. Perhaps she pointed the gun and shot without aiming at either one specifically. After all, are we to believe that a woman without gun experience was able to point and shoot so accurately? Or perhaps, she may even have tried to shoot Hannah, missed and got Robbie. I never understood why she would aim for his head and kill him rather than just stop him. It still doesn't make sense."

goingeast, wasn't it mentioned somewhere in the book that Hannah knew how to shoot? I forget what page it is...so she was knowledgeable about guns...I seem to recall that she bragged about how good a shot she was too...does anyone else remember this? You could be right in thinking that she really wanted to shoot Emmeline, but as you pointed out, she did aim at Robbie's head, which to me indicated that she knew her way around guns...







Paula,

If, as you say, she was a good shot, then why did she feel she had to kill Robbie. Why not shoot him in the leg or the foot to stop him? Was killing him her intent so that Emmeline could not have him? Why does Grace tell Hannah that it wasn't her fault? That there was nothing she could have done to stop him? Grace and Hannah, as far as we know, do not know of Robbie's "flashbacks" that tripped his violent behavior. Grace and Hannah have no way of knowing that Hannah killed Robbie because he may have killed them in a PTSD rage! So, once again, what is the secret that Grace has kept all these years? Moreover, why would Marcus care?
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KxBurns
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Re: THEMES: Secrets

[ Edited ]

bentley wrote:


3M wrote:
I think most people who have secrets say they are doing it for others' benefit, but in most cases I believe it is for themselves.

Secrets are damaging because they can ruin and destroy lives. If nothing else, they can create anger and resentment among those you love.




I think that Grace's deceptions and Hannah's were all self-serving. In this, I saw a family resemblance.



It's also clear that while Grace believes, in her youth, that she is keeping Hannah's secrets to protect Hannah, she is really keeping them to protect her bond with Hannah. Do you think this delusion on Grace's part lasts into her old age? I mean, when she lets go of the secret, does she realize she's been hanging on to it for her own benefit and not Hannah's benefit all this time?

Message Edited by KxBurns on 01-21-2008 07:01 PM
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Re: THEMES: Secrets



KxBurns wrote:

bentley wrote:


3M wrote:
I think most people who have secrets say they are doing it for others' benefit, but in most cases I believe it is for themselves.

Secrets are damaging because they can ruin and destroy lives. If nothing else, they can create anger and resentment among those you love.




I think that Grace's deceptions and Hannah's were all self-serving. In this, I saw a family resemblance.



It's also clear that while Grace believes, in her youth, that she is keeping Hannah's secrets to protect Hannah, she is really keeping them to protect her bond with Hannah. Do you think this delusion on Grace's part lasts into her old age? I mean, when she lets go of the secret, does she realize she's been hanging on to it for her own benefit and not Hannah's benefit all this time?

Message Edited by KxBurns on 01-21-2008 07:01 PM




SPOILERS!
In the end, Grace is telling the secret to Marcus because she believes it will help him heal his grief, right? And he seems to plan to use it as the basis for a novel, so I guess Grace thought that giving him a project to work on would bring about that healing.

Why didn't Grace tell the truth to Ursula while she was making the movie? If telling Marcus is going to allow the truth to become public, why couldn't she have just shared it a little sooner?

If she held on to this secret for so long to protect Hannah, or to protect her bond with Hannah, why doesn't she care that this will change how history viewed the event? Robbie was famous, and the story is famous. When Marcus writes his book and reveals that Hannah killed Robbie, the public perception of Hannah will change. I guess at the end of her life, Grace doesn't care about that.

Or she discovers she cares MORE about Marcus and Ruth than she does about Hannah. Now that is a nice thought. In the end, she is choosing her family--just like Hannah did.

Ann, bookhunter
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penny70
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Re: THEMES: Secrets



bookhunter wrote:


KxBurns wrote:

bentley wrote:


3M wrote:
I think most people who have secrets say they are doing it for others' benefit, but in most cases I believe it is for themselves.

Secrets are damaging because they can ruin and destroy lives. If nothing else, they can create anger and resentment among those you love.




I think that Grace's deceptions and Hannah's were all self-serving. In this, I saw a family resemblance.



It's also clear that while Grace believes, in her youth, that she is keeping Hannah's secrets to protect Hannah, she is really keeping them to protect her bond with Hannah. Do you think this delusion on Grace's part lasts into her old age? I mean, when she lets go of the secret, does she realize she's been hanging on to it for her own benefit and not Hannah's benefit all this time?

Message Edited by KxBurns on 01-21-2008 07:01 PM




SPOILERS!
In the end, Grace is telling the secret to Marcus because she believes it will help him heal his grief, right? And he seems to plan to use it as the basis for a novel, so I guess Grace thought that giving him a project to work on would bring about that healing.

Why didn't Grace tell the truth to Ursula while she was making the movie? If telling Marcus is going to allow the truth to become public, why couldn't she have just shared it a little sooner?

If she held on to this secret for so long to protect Hannah, or to protect her bond with Hannah, why doesn't she care that this will change how history viewed the event? Robbie was famous, and the story is famous. When Marcus writes his book and reveals that Hannah killed Robbie, the public perception of Hannah will change. I guess at the end of her life, Grace doesn't care about that.

Or she discovers she cares MORE about Marcus and Ruth than she does about Hannah. Now that is a nice thought. In the end, she is choosing her family--just like Hannah did.

Ann, bookhunter




I think she isn't as concerned about keeping the secret any longer because by the time that Marcus writes and publishes the book ALL participating parties will no longer be with us and not able to be hurt by any action taken by anyone in an authoritative position. The movies was released prior to her own passing and I think that she may have been a little hesitant to reveal her own involvement. Also, I don't recall her having actually seen the script prior to the start of production if at all. They contacted her to have her give an opinion on the sets not the script. Another thought ... since Ursula is actually documented family to the sisters I wonder if she thought it was her place to correct the "family" ... kind of a throw back to her time in service to Hannah. By telling her story to Marcus it will allow for another version and people can than make up their own minds.

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Re: THEMES: Secrets


bookhunter wrote:
SPOILERS!
In the end, Grace is telling the secret to Marcus because she believes it will help him heal his grief, right? And he seems to plan to use it as the basis for a novel, so I guess Grace thought that giving him a project to work on would bring about that healing.

Why didn't Grace tell the truth to Ursula while she was making the movie? If telling Marcus is going to allow the truth to become public, why couldn't she have just shared it a little sooner?

If she held on to this secret for so long to protect Hannah, or to protect her bond with Hannah, why doesn't she care that this will change how history viewed the event? Robbie was famous, and the story is famous. When Marcus writes his book and reveals that Hannah killed Robbie, the public perception of Hannah will change. I guess at the end of her life, Grace doesn't care about that.

Or she discovers she cares MORE about Marcus and Ruth than she does about Hannah. Now that is a nice thought. In the end, she is choosing her family--just like Hannah did.

Ann, bookhunter



Excellent point, Ann! And if you consider that Hannah is technically Grace's family as well, I think you could say that Grace has acknowledged, at the end of her life, that while she is biologically connected to the Hartfords, her real family -- and specifically Marcus -- takes precedence over any illusory bond with Hannah.

Someone posted (and I apologize, I can't recall if it's in this thread or another) that Grace's real motive is kind of the opposite: to assert her place, and by extension Marcus's, in the Hartford lineage. What do you think of this theory?

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Kimmi373
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Re: THEMES: Secrets

Lies are like snowballs rolling down a hill... they just get bigger.

This little piece of wisdom I learned as a kid and I could not help but recall it as I read through this thread.

The first snowball... Grace's lie to Hannah about knowing shorthand; it seemed so small and insignificant at the time! Just a note on that... At the beginning of the novel Grace spies on the Hartford children and longs to be a part of their group; in my opinion Grace keeps her secret not out of malice, but out of her desire for siblings and the special bond siblings share.

That first snowball, however, just kept rolling down the hill, in odd ways I'll admit, but eventually it crashed at the bottom of the hill as a big boulder with Robbie's death. I apologize for over simplifying things, but it puts the big picture into perspective for me.

The other thing I remember hearing as a child is that lies are easy to tell, but harder to keep. A lie is the beginning of a story, and unless the liar is very careful about the details eventually an inconsistency is found and the lie is exposed. Hannah started to tell a very complicated lie (story) about her suicide and the details got her in the end... Grace's little snowball of a lie had grown to large.

On the Marcus/Ursula issue, I really think that in the end, after listening to his grandmother's entire story, it would have become apparent to Marcus that he and Ursula were related. Perhaps Grace was happy at the thought of Marcus and Ursula, because like Grace, Marcus and Ursula appear to be only children. Grace wanted siblings perhaps she was happy about the thought of Ursula and Marcus finding each other for that reason.
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Re: THEMES: Secrets

So the question is...

Why does Grace not reveal the truth until the very end of her life in her last tape to Marcus?

Here is my very oversimplified and incomplete list of theories put forth by our discussion:

**She wasn't asked.

**Everyone involved would be dead (meaning Grace because the others were long dead) and so no harm (legally or socially) could come to them.

**To reveal that Marcus and Ursula are related so they can find "family" that Grace never felt.

**To allow Marcus some claim to the Riverton estate and the Hartford name.

**So Marcus will write a novel about it, helping him through his own grief.

**As a "gift" to Marcus, to show her love and preference for him (her own "acknowledged" family) over Hannah.

**She had "forgotten" about the event until Ursula's letter brings up memories and she feels COMPELLED to tell (but not to tell URSULA!)

**To get it off her chest before she dies (not sure anyone mentioned this, really, but isn't that a common reason why people reveal secrets at the ned?)

I just had to make a list for myself! Most of these reasons came from the rest of you on this board, but I am not skilled at looking back and forth. That is my apology for not crediting the original poster with a particular idea!

It is interesting to me to see all these ideas listed out. They all have some truth to them, but I am not sure which one I think is the strongest, most pressing reason.

Anyone have anything to add to the list?
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Re: THEMES: Secrets


KxBurns wrote:
... Grace's real motive is kind of the opposite: to assert her place, and by extension Marcus's, in the Hartford lineage. What do you think of this theory?

Karen




Karen, I think this is an interesting idea.

Grace, to me, is the kind of person born with the attitude (or "gift" ) of servitude. She would never be bold enough to assert her place, in my opinion. She never spoke up as the younger Grace to give her opinion about anything or to correct any misunderstandings. And even the older Grace seems very meek. She doesn't offer up much to Ursula or the young actress. We, the readers, know her thoughts, but the actual conversations she has are not very revealing. If she recorded this entire story onto tapes, then that tells me that even at her age her mind is not feeble and is CAPABLE of telling the story--just not in person!

Maybe the adult Grace that we do not get to meet in the book was capaple of being more outspoken, but somehow I doubt it. She worked as a nurse in a field hospital (in service to others...) and her academic choice was one that kept her in the background, away from contact with people. (Live ones, anyway!)

So I don't think she was trying to say "I'm the heir to the Hartford fortune!" (doesn't look like there is one, anyway!)

But she MIGHT be passing on the info so that Marcus could make the claim. From what we have analyzed about Ruth's character, Grace probably didn't tell her on purpose because it would have given Ruth too much satisfaction to claim the name! But Marcus seems to have that dignity that she admired in the rest of the Hartford family.

Maybe she sees Marcus as a way to carry on her mythical version of the Hartfords?

Ann, bookhunter
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Iulievich
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Re: THEMES: Secrets

[ Edited ]

bookhunter wrote:

KxBurns wrote:
... Grace's real motive is kind of the opposite: to assert her place, and by extension Marcus's, in the Hartford lineage. What do you think of this theory?

Karen




Karen, I think this is an interesting idea.

Grace, to me, is the kind of person born with the attitude (or "gift" ) of servitude. She would never be bold enough to assert her place, in my opinion. She never spoke up as the younger Grace to give her opinion about anything or to correct any misunderstandings. And even the older Grace seems very meek. She doesn't offer up much to Ursula or the young actress. We, the readers, know her thoughts, but the actual conversations she has are not very revealing. If she recorded this entire story onto tapes, then that tells me that even at her age her mind is not feeble and is CAPABLE of telling the story--just not in person!

Maybe the adult Grace that we do not get to meet in the book was capaple of being more outspoken, but somehow I doubt it. She worked as a nurse in a field hospital (in service to others...) and her academic choice was one that kept her in the background, away from contact with people. (Live ones, anyway!)

So I don't think she was trying to say "I'm the heir to the Hartford fortune!" (doesn't look like there is one, anyway!)

But she MIGHT be passing on the info so that Marcus could make the claim. From what we have analyzed about Ruth's character, Grace probably didn't tell her on purpose because it would have given Ruth too much satisfaction to claim the name! But Marcus seems to have that dignity that she admired in the rest of the Hartford family.

Maybe she sees Marcus as a way to carry on her mythical version of the Hartfords?

Ann, bookhunter



Neither Grace nor her progeny could ever have any claim on Riverton. When Frederick died without a male heir and no brothers, male cousins, etc., Riverton went to Hannah and thence passed into the Luxton family. Grace was illegitimate and was never recognized by Frederick as his child. The only person at the end of the book with a hope of claiming Riverton would have been Ursula, but in view of the length of time passed and other disposition of the property having been made, even she would have little hope of claiming it -- even if she knew of her ancestry and wanted the property.

I do not see how Grace could ever have been motivated by thoughts of inheriting the estate or of establishing a claim to it on behalf of her own descendants. Her "inheritance" came in the form of a key in a locket.

Personally, I think that Grace finally told her story to keep alive her own internal moral claim to be a member of the Hartford family and to reveal at last that one, at least, of the Hartford sisters (i.e. Grace herself) had actually realized ambitions that were only fantasies to her legitimate half-sisters.

Message Edited by Iulievich on 01-30-2008 07:15 PM
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Re: THEMES: Secrets----SPOILER WARNING



ELee wrote:

Peppermill wrote:

Librarian wrote:
Anyone who has finished the book realizes that the outcome would have been totally different if Grace had not kept the secret that she really didn't know shorthand and was not taking lessons.


However, its equally important to recognize that this secret did not cause the outcome.



Didn't it though? If Hannah had known that Grace could not read shorthand, she would have communicated the letter's content in a fashion Grace could understand. And I believe that Grace would have honored her request, which would have made the outcome very different.




If Hannah had know Grace did not read shorthand, it would have changed the whole book. I don't think Hannah would have written her note in plain English. The reason for using shorthand is that Hannah did not want anyone else to see the note or know the truth. Without shorthand Hannah would not have written the note.
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Re: THEMES: Secrets -- DEFINITELY SPOILER INFO

Maybe Grace isn't lying about Robbie killing himself. She is relating what she perceived happened from her hiding place. She may have not seen exactly how the gun went off.
MG



Everyman wrote:
Maybe Robbie did kill himself, eh? Now that's a very interesting idea!

And either Grace is lying about it for some reason (maybe she was secretly in love with Robbie herself, and is lying to protect his memory as a wronged man instead of a suicide), or over the course of sixty years she has constructed a memory of something that didn't happen, which is far from impossible and would fit in with the comments about the ambiguities of history.

bookhunter wrote:
Vivco1 writes:
I think she was in such a state of "game induced" shall we say, euphoria, that both things were happening, she was going to leave with him because that was part of the game now.


Vivian and Bentley (and the rest of you!),

So Hannah was in a state of game induced euphoria, Emmiline was drunk, Robbie was shell-shocked...what is Grace's excuse?!

Bentley, you mentioned the fog--in and out of their heads. I guess we are SUPPOSED to be in the dark about what EXACTLY happened. Grace's comments about history, and even Ms. Horton's comments in the author's notes, say that history is colored by perception, memory, time. _The Shifting Fog_ is a good title!

Maybe Robbie DID kill himself, Hannah died heartbroken and left Grace heartbroken. Or maybe Grace killed him to keep Hannah from leaving. Over the years Grace has constructed a different "memory" of how it happened. She hasn't told any one before, so she can't contradict herself.

Ann, bookhunter





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Peppermill
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Re: THEMES: Secrets----SPOILER WARNING


fordmg wrote:

ELee wrote:

Peppermill wrote:

Librarian wrote:
Anyone who has finished the book realizes that the outcome would have been totally different if Grace had not kept the secret that she really didn't know shorthand and was not taking lessons.
However, its equally important to recognize that this secret did not cause the outcome.
Didn't it though? If Hannah had known that Grace could not read shorthand, she would have communicated the letter's content in a fashion Grace could understand. And I believe that Grace would have honored her request, which would have made the outcome very different.
If Hannah had know Grace did not read shorthand, it would have changed the whole book. I don't think Hannah would have written her note in plain English. The reason for using shorthand is that Hannah did not want anyone else to see the note or know the truth. Without shorthand Hannah would not have written the note.
MG



There is a difference between "change" and "cause." An overbold analogy: if the 9/11 pilots had been stopped in Boston, the course of history would have changed. If the analyst in Minneapolis had been believed, security might have been increased. Neither of those lapses "caused" these pilots to be flying in the first place, any more than Grace's lack of knowledge of shorthand "caused" Hannah and Robbie to end up in a situation of destructive violence.
"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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kiakar
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Re: THEMES: Secrets----SPOILER WARNING

You said it well, about the fact the shorthand incident did not make Grace responsible for the shooting.
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