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KxBurns
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Additional Topics for Discussion

[ Edited ]

Poppy has posed some wonderful questions within her answers to our questions. I thought we should discuss some of these very thought-provoking issues. Thanks Poppy!

 

 

- How does the family's treatment of Ginny in her early years (pre-Maud's abuse) contribute to the person she became? Specifically, what might have been the impact of Maud’s suspicions or both Maud and Clive's sheltering of Ginny?

 

As Poppy puts it: "…did she just have very introvert non-communicative traits as a child that her mother (and the doctor) did not understand and therefore assumed must be psychological 'faults'.  Then, because of the way she was treated (imagine a basically 'normal' but introvert and unusual child being treated the way she was treated - sheltered, feared, blamed, fed with moth information and killing, led to believe that animals are unconscious and perhaps humans have no choice in their actions etc etc), perhaps they created who she became (reclusive, OCD and other psychiatric symptoms, and then someone with potential to murder)

OR was she born with this 'condition' from the outset."

 

Discuss!

 

 

- Is there such a thing as free will? How greatly are our lives determined by genetics and biology as opposed to free will and choice? In Poppy's words: "Has nature lulled us into thinking we are making more choices than we are, tricked us into believing in freewill?" How did this question play out in the lives of Ginny, Vivi, and even Maud and Clive? On a related note, what is the role of spirituality in the novel?  

 

 

- How do you think our own outlook on what is acceptable or "normal" behavior influences our desire to give Ginny's eccentricities a medical label early on in the book?

 

 

- Do you believe Vivi ever really understood the depth of Ginny's psychological problems? If so, when did she realize it? If not, why not? Did she share Ginny's tendency to view certain aspects of her family life as more ideal than they were?



Message Edited by KxBurns on 03-19-2008 05:37 PM
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DSaff
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Re: Additional Topics/Early treatment



KxBurns wrote:

Poppy has posed some wonderful questions within her answers to our questions. I thought we should discuss some of these very thought-provoking issues. Thanks Poppy!

 

 

- How does the family's treatment of Ginny in her early years (pre-Maud's abuse) contribute to the person she became? Specifically, what might have been the impact of Maud’s suspicions or both Maud and Clive's sheltering of Ginny?

 

As Poppy puts it: "…did she just have very introvert non-communicative traits as a child that her mother (and the doctor) did not understand and therefore assumed must be psychological 'faults'.  Then, because of the way she was treated (imagine a basically 'normal' but introvert and unusual child being treated the way she was treated - sheltered, feared, blamed, fed with moth information and killing, led to believe that animals are unconscious and perhaps humans have no choice in their actions etc etc), perhaps they created who she became (reclusive, OCD and other psychiatric symptoms, and then someone with potential to murder)

OR was she born with this 'condition' from the outset."

 

Discuss!


Great questions, Karen. I think I will start with the first one. We are looking at the characters and situations through 21st century eyes, so many of the things that are available now weren't available 50 or more years ago. Things we take for granted just weren't in place for parents.  I think that Maude and Clive knew something was different with Ginny and enlisted the help of the doctor to figure out what was going on. Did she have a learning disability or personality disorder? Maybe, but Poppy's statement made me think that maybe Ginny was just a quiet child who didn't react to things. We even find that behavior odd today. Whatever was "wrong" with Ginny was worsened by the over-protectiveness of her parents. She needed her sister with her whenever she was outside and it seems she wasn't alone much in the house either. Ginny didn't get to develop her survival skills - the ones we use everyday to communicate with the world around us. Then, when she was "abandoned" by everyone who protected her, Ginny was left to create a world in her own mind. That world needed to be manageable, so she got rid of the things in the house and created her own space. When Vivi came back, Ginny didn't know how to cope. There wasn't a warmth in their meeting. There seemed something sinister in Ginny's mind. So, to try to get things manageable again, Ginny killed her sister. In the end, Ginny is in her own, manageable space, reliving her life in her mind. What a sad story! Anyway, that is my take on it. Others???  :smileyvery-happy:
DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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KxBurns
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Re: Additional Topics/Early treatment



DSaff wrote:

Ginny didn't get to develop her survival skills - the ones we use everyday to communicate with the world around us. Then, when she was "abandoned" by everyone who protected her, Ginny was left to create a world in her own mind. That world needed to be manageable, so she got rid of the things in the house and created her own space. When Vivi came back, Ginny didn't know how to cope. There wasn't a warmth in their meeting. There seemed something sinister in Ginny's mind. So, to try to get things manageable again, Ginny killed her sister. In the end, Ginny is in her own, manageable space, reliving her life in her mind. What a sad story! Anyway, that is my take on it. Others???  :smileyvery-happy:


Many great points here, but I especially like your use of the term survival skills, Donna! Because Ginny kind of developed her own really maladaptive survival skills over time, right? Since she didn't have much experience with interpersonal relationships, she drew on what she knew, which was science and moths. And look where that lead...
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Re: Additional Topics/Early treatment



KxBurns wrote:


DSaff wrote:

Ginny didn't get to develop her survival skills - the ones we use everyday to communicate with the world around us. Then, when she was "abandoned" by everyone who protected her, Ginny was left to create a world in her own mind. That world needed to be manageable, so she got rid of the things in the house and created her own space. When Vivi came back, Ginny didn't know how to cope. There wasn't a warmth in their meeting. There seemed something sinister in Ginny's mind. So, to try to get things manageable again, Ginny killed her sister. In the end, Ginny is in her own, manageable space, reliving her life in her mind. What a sad story! Anyway, that is my take on it. Others???  :smileyvery-happy:


Many great points here, but I especially like your use of the term survival skills, Donna! Because Ginny kind of developed her own really maladaptive survival skills over time, right? Since she didn't have much experience with interpersonal relationships, she drew on what she knew, which was science and moths. And look where that lead...


Maladaptive is a great word! She had no real examples other than the moths, and they create a new world inside their coccoon. There is sooooo much more to this book when you look at the psychological possibilities!
DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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Re: Additional Topics/Free will



KxBurns wrote:

 

- Is there such a thing as free will? How greatly are our lives determined by genetics and biology as opposed to free will and choice? In Poppy's words: "Has nature lulled us into thinking we are making more choices than we are, tricked us into believing in freewill?" How did this question play out in the lives of Ginny, Vivi, and even Maud and Clive? On a related note, what is the role of spirituality in the novel?  


 



I absolutely believe in free will. We make conscious choices everyday about things like: what to wear, whether or not to go to work, and how we treat others. It is my choice to answer this question. But, I also believe that genetics and biology have a role in our lives. How else can we explain mannerisms shared by family members who have never met? It was natural for Maud and Clive to want to protect their daughter from anyone/thing that would hurt her, but it was their choice to go to the lengths that they did.
 
Spirituality in the book is an interesting subject. Ginny and Clive seemed closest to the natural world, wanting to study it. Even in their bizarre experiments, they were looking for answers and clues. Maud and Vivi seemed more involved in the outside world, wanting parties and company. Both ideas were doomed to fail as there wasn't a balance. In the end, I found Ginny to be on the outside looking in. She had followed her sister to the church, but couldn't go inside. She tells us that she hears them, but how much we don't really know. While Vivi was inside, we don't really know why she went. Maybe for help, maybe for prayer. Sadly it seems that by not putting the two worlds together, the family was doomed to fail.
 
DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion

I think we have to ask ourselves what exactly was wrong with Ginny, when did it manifest itself and how serious was it. Poppy Adams indicated that there was not much wrong with Ginny when she was younger, that she became more of an eccentric later on and then whatever issues there were they seemed to take hold in her later life. From reading the novel, I obviously mistakenly felt as did others that Ginny was autistic or had some other issue like that or worse. I also suspected that the Doctor, Clive and Maud were protecting her because of their specific knowledge of her malady. I was shocked when Poppy explained that Ginny's issues were not serious when she was younger. If one is saying that what happened to her as a child is what contributed to her other psychiatric symptoms, I never saw that. I honestly believed she was what she was at birth and the manifestations of that condition worsened with time and age; thus contributing and exacerbating her already delicate psychiatric state. I have to admit that this is the novel that I read and how I interpreted it. I am sure that since Ginny was an unreliable narrator that there are probably as many different interpretations as there are readers. Ginny was a very interesting puzzle.
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Re: Additional Topics/Free will

[ Edited ]
 


KxBurns wrote:

- Is there such a thing as free will? How greatly are our lives determined by genetics and biology as opposed to free will and choice? In Poppy's words: "Has nature lulled us into thinking we are making more choices than we are, tricked us into believing in freewill?" How did this question play out in the lives of Ginny, Vivi, and even Maud and Clive? On a related note, what is the role of spirituality in the novel?  


DSaff wrote:

 
I absolutely believe in free will. We make conscious choices everyday about things like: what to wear, whether or not to go to work, and how we treat others. It is my choice to answer this question. But, I also believe that genetics and biology have a role in our lives. How else can we explain mannerisms shared by family members who have never met? It was natural for Maud and Clive to want to protect their daughter from anyone/thing that would hurt her, but it was their choice to go to the lengths that they did.
 


Donna, I agree with you that we have free will.  But I have had a good time thinking about and discussing the "illusion" of free will with friends and family.  I have examined many of my own actions and decisions, wondering how much my biology plays into the decisions I make.  When I am really honest, I think my biology plays a much larger part than I want it to!  The free will comes in when we actively choose to rise above the biological impulses and choose something against our nature.
 
For example, Donna said we make decisions every day like whether to go to work or not.  But do you REALLY wake up every morning and say to yourself "I CHOOSE to go to work today" or do you think some of those type choices get put on "autopilot?"  Because you are a responsible adult (I am assuming you are, Donna! :smileywink: ) , you go to work.  That is partially your biology, I think, even if it is a "trained" part that developed as you grew up. 
 
The spiritual side of that question is the "rule book" or guide that we use to help us make free will decisions, maybe.  The spiritual is what helps us rise above the biology because it mkes us rely on something outside of OUR biology.
 
Paul says in Romans 7:15 "I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."  I don't think you have to be a Christian to relate to the struggle Paul refers to!  Just try going on a diet!
 
I think of Maud and her drinking, and hope that when she is sober she loves Ginny and does not want to harm her.  Probably does not even want to drink.  Addiction is a powerful force to overcome, and once alcohol has impaired her "free will" she does things she does not want to do.
 
Ann, bookhunter  (thanking Karen for opening some new discussion threads!)


Message Edited by bookhunter on 03-19-2008 09:46 PM
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion

[ Edited ]


bentley wrote:
I think we have to ask ourselves what exactly was wrong with Ginny, when did it manifest itself and how serious was it. Poppy Adams indicated that there was not much wrong with Ginny when she was younger, that she became more of an eccentric later on and then whatever issues there were they seemed to take hold in her later life. From reading the novel, I obviously mistakenly felt as did others that Ginny was autistic or had some other issue like that or worse. I also suspected that the Doctor, Clive and Maud were protecting her because of their specific knowledge of her malady. I was shocked when Poppy explained that Ginny's issues were not serious when she was younger. If one is saying that what happened to her as a child is what contributed to her other psychiatric symptoms, I never saw that. I honestly believed she was what she was at birth and the manifestations of that condition worsened with time and age; thus contributing and exacerbating her already delicate psychiatric state. I have to admit that this is the novel that I read and how I interpreted it. I am sure that since Ginny was an unreliable narrator that there are probably as many different interpretations as there are readers. Ginny was a very interesting puzzle.


Bentley, I agree with you that Ginny exhibited some signs of being a little "off" even as a young child.  Maud wan't a "normal" family, the school presumably took Ginny only because they were taking Vivi, etc.  I guess the distinction comes in where you draw the line between "odd kid" and a labeled diagnosis.  That is a topic where opinions vary widely within our own country and time, and I don't know what the stardards were in the UK when Ginny was born or what they are today. 
 
Sometimes a diagnosis helps tremendously because the child or adult can have intervention and treatment that helps them adapt to society.  Sometimes a diagnosis further isolates a person and makes them seem even more out of touch with society.
 
Do you think that if Ginny had been less protected by her family and had been forced to develop some social skills (left in school, worked outside the home, not abandoned by Clive) that she would have been more normal in adulthood?
 
Ann, bookhunter (edited to correct the mistake Bentley pointed out--got my names confused!)


Message Edited by bookhunter on 03-19-2008 10:38 PM
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion


bookhunter wrote:


bentley wrote:
I think we have to ask ourselves what exactly was wrong with Ginny, when did it manifest itself and how serious was it. Poppy Adams indicated that there was not much wrong with Ginny when she was younger, that she became more of an eccentric later on and then whatever issues there were they seemed to take hold in her later life. From reading the novel, I obviously mistakenly felt as did others that Ginny was autistic or had some other issue like that or worse. I also suspected that the Doctor, Clive and Maud were protecting her because of their specific knowledge of her malady. I was shocked when Poppy explained that Ginny's issues were not serious when she was younger. If one is saying that what happened to her as a child is what contributed to her other psychiatric symptoms, I never saw that. I honestly believed she was what she was at birth and the manifestations of that condition worsened with time and age; thus contributing and exacerbating her already delicate psychiatric state. I have to admit that this is the novel that I read and how I interpreted it. I am sure that since Ginny was an unreliable narrator that there are probably as many different interpretations as there are readers. Ginny was a very interesting puzzle.


Bentley, I agree with you that Ginny exhibited some signs of being a little "off" even as a young child.  Maud wan't a "normal" family, the school presumably took Ginny only because they were taking Maud, etc.  I guess the distinction comes in where you draw the line between "odd kid" and a labeled diagnosis.  That is a topic where opinions vary widely within our own country and time, and I don't know what the stardards were in the UK when Ginny was born or what they are today. 
 
Sometimes a diagnosis helps tremendously because the child or adult can have intervention and treatment that helps them adapt to society.  Sometimes a diagnosis further isolates a person and makes them seem even more out of touch with society.
 
Do you think that if Ginny had been less protected by her family and had been forced to develop some social skills (left in school, worked outside the home, not abandoned by Clive) that she would have been more normal in adulthood?
 
Ann, bookhunter





Bookhunter..let me say first that I have enjoyed our exchanges regarding this book.

You raise a valid point: what would have been done or how would a special child have been handled then. I think you were speaking of Vivian as the child the school automatically took and that they also acquired Ginny only as part of the total package. The school must have noticed something off about her and/or the parents informed them of something.

Maybe because of the picture in the snow with her parents as a baby and how much was made of that in terms of its symbolism; one was led to believe that there was something wrong AT BIRTH from the get go. In fact, I thought I saw similarities between Clive and Ginny.

I am not sure what would have happened to Ginny if things were different. One of the reasons is that we never heard what the diagnosis was. If we had, we might have anticipated what would or should be the desired outcome. I have noticed that the more integrated any individual is in terms of being mainstreamed the better the prognosis for a more sociable human being to develop. However, we also might have discovered that whatever was ailing Ginny was a psychosis where the individual might be a threat to themself or to others; in that case maybe alternative living arrangements might have been provided where the family would have remained intact and maybe flourished while Ginny received the medication and attention she needed. However, what I was struck with was that Poppy indicated that she was not imagining Ginny to be psychotic or autistic or worse. It would be hard for me to predict the unpredictable; because I only know about Ginny though her own somewhat delusional eyes and mind.

I do think it is fun to discuss the possibilities or the potential for a different end result for our main character. I think we were sad; but interestingly enough Ginny (the protagonist) seemed quite satisfied and relieved; as well as guilt-free.
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Re: Additional Topics/Free will


bookhunter wrote:


Donna, I agree with you that we have free will. But I have had a good time thinking about and discussing the "illusion" of free will with friends and family. I have examined many of my own actions and decisions, wondering how much my biology plays into the decisions I make. When I am really honest, I think my biology plays a much larger part than I want it to! The free will comes in when we actively choose to rise above the biological impulses and choose something against our nature.
For example, Donna said we make decisions every day like whether to go to work or not. But do you REALLY wake up every morning and say to yourself "I CHOOSE to go to work today" or do you think some of those type choices get put on "autopilot?" Because you are a responsible adult (I am assuming you are, Donna! :smileywink: ) , you go to work. That is partially your biology, I think, even if it is a "trained" part that developed as you grew up.
The spiritual side of that question is the "rule book" or guide that we use to help us make free will decisions, maybe. The spiritual is what helps us rise above the biology because it mkes us rely on something outside of OUR biology.
Paul says in Romans 7:15 "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." I don't think you have to be a Christian to relate to the struggle Paul refers to! Just try going on a diet!
I think of Maud and her drinking, and hope that when she is sober she loves Ginny and does not want to harm her. Probably does not even want to drink. Addiction is a powerful force to overcome, and once alcohol has impaired her "free will" she does things she does not want to do.
Ann, bookhunter (thanking Karen for opening some new discussion threads!)


Message Edited by bookhunter on 03-19-2008 09:46 PM


Ann, I think that is an excellent description of free will....choosing to act against one's nature! Acting against the baser desires or needs of the natural man is exactly what free will is about. It is a moral action, not a biological one. Choice may be biological, and animals can make choices. But choice and free will are not the same thing. And for one to say, I had no choice, its in my nature, is often them exercising their free will to not choice to do anything different.
Sometimes we even hold down others by telling them that too, that its just who they are, and who they will always be, that they can't be more. In some ways, I think this was what Ginny grew up believing about herself. But remember what Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.” If Ginny was just a shy introverted kid who was "protected from the world", and then taught about whether moths had free will or not, but really being taught that, that is not free will, that is instinct and even choices, she probably had no real feel for free will, or that she had any of her own, so why act different than what was expected of her. Why even question it, in her world, thats just how things were.

I wonder if she thought her mother's drinking and abusing her later on was merely biological too and so thats why the best she could do was help her mother hide it. It must be lonely and confusing to think you have no free will to act or chose for yourself. If that was her case, then if I were her, I would hang out more with Clive too, because he is the one who would understand it, afterall, its what he is teaching her and what Maud is teaching her to keep, hide from the world with it, by teaching her to find that place she could go to, where no one could get in, where she could block out anything people said about her or to her that was hurtful. Maud was teaching Ginny to be introverted, and not now to handle social situations. That bugged the heck out of me, for Maud to teach her to handle troubles that way, go deep inside herself, just as she stayed the rest of her life, deep inside that house.
Vivian
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion



bentley wrote:
 
Bookhunter..let me say first that I have enjoyed our exchanges regarding this book.
...snipped...

I am not sure what would have happened to Ginny if things were different. One of the reasons is that we never heard what the diagnosis was. If we had, we might have anticipated what would or should be the desired outcome. I have noticed that the more integrated any individual is in terms of being mainstreamed the better the prognosis for a more sociable human being to develop. However, we also might have discovered that whatever was ailing Ginny was a psychosis where the individual might be a threat to themself or to others; in that case maybe alternative living arrangements might have been provided where the family would have remained intact and maybe flourished while Ginny received the medication and attention she needed. However, what I was struck with was that Poppy indicated that she was not imagining Ginny to be psychotic or autistic or worse. It would be hard for me to predict the unpredictable; because I only know about Ginny though her own somewhat delusional eyes and mind.

I do think it is fun to discuss the possibilities or the potential for a different end result for our main character. I think we were sad; but interestingly enough Ginny (the protagonist) seemed quite satisfied and relieved; as well as guilt-free.

Bentley,  I, too, have enjoyed our discussions.  We have been wearing ourselves out on the details of the book and I am grateful to Karen for opening some new threads with some very thoughtful questions.  We can all now find new things to argue about!:smileywink:
 
Your comment about sociable humans touches on something I am always interested in discussing.  Do we NEED everyone to be sociable and mainstream?  Of course, we want people who will harm others to be isolated or treated in some way, but I think we need the oddballs (Ms. Adams calls them eccentrics).  Those folks who can think "outside the box" are the ones who make great discoveries ,inventions, or works of art.  We work so hard to bring those on the fringe IN to our range of "normal" that we lose some creative minds, I think.
 
It is a shame Ginny does not illustrate this for me by actually having achieved some great moth discovery!
 
Love your irony of Ginny's state of mind at the end!  Too bad what any of US felt--she was doing just fine, thank you very much!
 
Ann, bookhunter
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Re: Additional Topics/Free will



vivico1 wrote:
 (snipped)
.... Choice may be biological, and animals can make choices. But choice and free will are not the same thing. And for one to say, I had no choice, its in my nature, is often them exercising their free will to not choice to do anything different.
.... But remember what Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.” If Ginny was just a shy introverted kid who was "protected from the world", and then taught about whether moths had free will or not, but really being taught that, that is not free will, that is instinct and even choices, she probably had no real feel for free will, or that she had any of her own, so why act different than what was expected of her. Why even question it, in her world, thats just how things were.

I wonder if she thought her mother's drinking and abusing her later on was merely biological too and so thats why the best she could do was help her mother hide it. It must be lonely and confusing to think you have no free will to act or chose for yourself. If that was her case, then if I were her, I would hang out more with Clive too, because he is the one who would understand it, afterall, its what he is teaching her and what Maud is teaching her to keep, hide from the world with it, by teaching her to find that place she could go to, where no one could get in, where she could block out anything people said about her or to her that was hurtful. Maud was teaching Ginny to be introverted, and not now to handle social situations. That bugged the heck out of me, for Maud to teach her to handle troubles that way, go deep inside herself, just as she stayed the rest of her life, deep inside that house.

Viv,  you made some good comments.  I love that quote by Emmerson.  And your distinction between choice and free will.  Watching the dog and cat around here have been part of my "examination" of this topic over the last few days, and I was having trouble putting into words the distinction between their choices (run after the rabbit or obey the command to come back?)  and ours.
 
I can see how what Maud taught was maybe hurtful to Ginny in the long run, but I think Maud had the best intentions in mind when she taught Ginny that trick.  I have often told my kids to just ignore hurtful people, which is similar.  (MAYBE Ginny had exhibited some violent tendencies early in life and HAD to learn to withdraw from an uncomfortable situation so she didn't lash out?!  Hmmmm)
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion

I think that answer to the free will question for people depends on their worldview. Ginny and Clive pose a very mechanical/evolutionary worldview, and this led them to the conclusion of a lack of free will. If everything happens by chance according to a predetermined script, there is neither free will or accountability.

That said, I do not agree with this position. I believe in creation and the free will of man to choose right or wrong. Further this is where our conscience comes from - the natural instinct of what is right and wrong that is further developed through the norms we learn from our families and society. Now that I think about it, this is one of the things that was truly odd about Ginny. She didn't seem to have a concept of right and wrong, i.e. she lacked a conscience. Her quote of "I don't feel like a murderer." seems to support this.
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion


bookhunter wrote:


bentley wrote:
 
Bookhunter..let me say first that I have enjoyed our exchanges regarding this book.
...snipped...

I am not sure what would have happened to Ginny if things were different. One of the reasons is that we never heard what the diagnosis was. If we had, we might have anticipated what would or should be the desired outcome. I have noticed that the more integrated any individual is in terms of being mainstreamed the better the prognosis for a more sociable human being to develop. However, we also might have discovered that whatever was ailing Ginny was a psychosis where the individual might be a threat to themself or to others; in that case maybe alternative living arrangements might have been provided where the family would have remained intact and maybe flourished while Ginny received the medication and attention she needed. However, what I was struck with was that Poppy indicated that she was not imagining Ginny to be psychotic or autistic or worse. It would be hard for me to predict the unpredictable; because I only know about Ginny though her own somewhat delusional eyes and mind.

I do think it is fun to discuss the possibilities or the potential for a different end result for our main character. I think we were sad; but interestingly enough Ginny (the protagonist) seemed quite satisfied and relieved; as well as guilt-free.

Bentley,  I, too, have enjoyed our discussions.  We have been wearing ourselves out on the details of the book and I am grateful to Karen for opening some new threads with some very thoughtful questions.  We can all now find new things to argue about!:smileywink:
 
Your comment about sociable humans touches on something I am always interested in discussing.  Do we NEED everyone to be sociable and mainstream?  Of course, we want people who will harm others to be isolated or treated in some way, but I think we need the oddballs (Ms. Adams calls them eccentrics).  Those folks who can think "outside the box" are the ones who make great discoveries ,inventions, or works of art.  We work so hard to bring those on the fringe IN to our range of "normal" that we lose some creative minds, I think.
 
It is a shame Ginny does not illustrate this for me by actually having achieved some great moth discovery!
 
Love your irony of Ginny's state of mind at the end!  Too bad what any of US felt--she was doing just fine, thank you very much!
 
Ann, bookhunter





Ann,

I think this is one of those novels that is best looked at in its entirety versus its parts. I think Oldesq made an interesting comment about whether some of us would have had a different reading experience if we had read it straight through without the analysis. Maybe that is true; because there is not a coherent logic flow. The narrator uses Ginny logic and we understand her issues and their severity by the last chapter and maybe the extent only then. I think it is a fact that the details in the book do not add up. Is that a bad thing; it depends on the reader and their idea of a satisfactory reading experience.

I love to travel and one reason is that in America everything seems to be homogenized. Other countries have their own uniqueness and identity. I like that. Otherwise the average or the norm would lend itself to mediocrity as the midpoint. I love those folks who celebrate their individuality and spirit; although I guess I follow the more conservative safe path myself.

I am one who thinks that Ginny's career was an inflated one at best; and possibly non-existent. We were the only ones unsatisfied about Ginny's fate; Ginny was happier and more self-contained with fewer variables. Everything was more to her liking and she did not give her old life much of a nostalgic look back. What happened to everyone else was their own darn fault. She almost had a sociopathic outlook on life; they all got what they deserved and so did she. Ginny was something out of a Hitchcock movie.
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Re: Additional Topics/Free will


bookhunter wrote:


vivico1 wrote:
(snipped)
.... Choice may be biological, and animals can make choices. But choice and free will are not the same thing. And for one to say, I had no choice, its in my nature, is often them exercising their free will to not choice to do anything different.
.... But remember what Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.” If Ginny was just a shy introverted kid who was "protected from the world", and then taught about whether moths had free will or not, but really being taught that, that is not free will, that is instinct and even choices, she probably had no real feel for free will, or that she had any of her own, so why act different than what was expected of her. Why even question it, in her world, thats just how things were.

I wonder if she thought her mother's drinking and abusing her later on was merely biological too and so thats why the best she could do was help her mother hide it. It must be lonely and confusing to think you have no free will to act or chose for yourself. If that was her case, then if I were her, I would hang out more with Clive too, because he is the one who would understand it, afterall, its what he is teaching her and what Maud is teaching her to keep, hide from the world with it, by teaching her to find that place she could go to, where no one could get in, where she could block out anything people said about her or to her that was hurtful. Maud was teaching Ginny to be introverted, and not now to handle social situations. That bugged the heck out of me, for Maud to teach her to handle troubles that way, go deep inside herself, just as she stayed the rest of her life, deep inside that house.

Viv, you made some good comments. I love that quote by Emmerson. And your distinction between choice and free will. Watching the dog and cat around here have been part of my "examination" of this topic over the last few days, and I was having trouble putting into words the distinction between their choices (run after the rabbit or obey the command to come back?) and ours.
I can see how what Maud taught was maybe hurtful to Ginny in the long run, but I think Maud had the best intentions in mind when she taught Ginny that trick. I have often told my kids to just ignore hurtful people, which is similar. (MAYBE Ginny had exhibited some violent tendencies early in life and HAD to learn to withdraw from an uncomfortable situation so she didn't lash out?! Hmmmm)
Ann, bookhunter



Ann, I think you and I would agree, theres nothing wrong with teaching a child to withdraw from a situation, basically ignore them and walk away, is very different than teaching your child how to withdraw from reality and go inside yourself. I think thats the difference. I can even see teaching a child a form of meditation when they are stressed, but this really is teaching her to "lock" herself away from people, the world, even how to stop hearing them, not ignoring what they are saying but to stop hearing them. It really shocked me at the time and I forgot all about it until now.

As for your dogs and cats, and my cat who is pestering me right now lol, I think they make choices. Mostly based on past experiences. Like your dog knows when its safe to come to you and when you are mad and he maybe cowers over towards you. Thats animal instinct and the animal making choices. Tho, I swear, cats do seem to have their own agenda and you can call them till the cows come home and if they don't want to, they just stare at you like, nahhh, you come over here, I ain't moving. Its also why "most" men prefer dogs to cats. You can yell at a dog and do all kinds of mean things to it, and then call it nicely and it comes running to ya with its tale wagging. Men do NOT like cats, because they will chose not to come and give you that Go to He** look LOL. They are very independent as pets. You know what I mean and now I am getting off the subject anyway lol. But anyway, next time your pet choses to come to you for some attention, and maybe your busy, see how your free will kicks in then LOL :smileywink:.

I have always liked that Emerson quote.
Vivian
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion



KxBurns wrote:

Poppy has posed some wonderful questions within her answers to our questions. I thought we should discuss some of these very thought-provoking issues. Thanks Poppy!

 

 

- How does the family's treatment of Ginny in her early years (pre-Maud's abuse) contribute to the person she became? Specifically, what might have been the impact of Maud’s suspicions or both Maud and Clive's sheltering of Ginny?

 

As Poppy puts it: "…did she just have very introvert non-communicative traits as a child that her mother (and the doctor) did not understand and therefore assumed must be psychological 'faults'.  Then, because of the way she was treated (imagine a basically 'normal' but introvert and unusual child being treated the way she was treated - sheltered, feared, blamed, fed with moth information and killing, led to believe that animals are unconscious and perhaps humans have no choice in their actions etc etc), perhaps they created who she became (reclusive, OCD and other psychiatric symptoms, and then someone with potential to murder)

OR was she born with this 'condition' from the outset."

 

Discuss!

 

 



Message Edited by KxBurns on 03-19-2008 05:37 PM

Hmmm. I have wondered about this question too. Maud and Clive did treat Vivi and Ginny differently. Maud seemed more comfortable with Vivi's free spirit and overall happiness. Even back then Ginny seemed more detached. While Maud was unable to draw close to Ginny, Clive could understand Ginny and liked her personality. It seems each parent took the child under their wing who most fitted their particular character traits. These actions would, I think, begin a division in the household. Not only a division in the household, but also a  belief system.

 

A belief system stating that your complete self is not important. I, as the parent, have picked your significant side. That is the side I or Clive will develop. You will not have to worry. You will become perfect citizens because we are nurturing the best in you. My question is what were the girls supposed to do with their whole selves?  If only a part of self is nurtured, did the other parts of themselves become corrupted, rusted or damaged due to lack of use? Did they feel any lack of worthiness?

 

This is not to blame the parents. I am saying the parents used a scientific method to nurture their girls. The method failed. Unfortunately, Ginny was already dealt a tough hand. She was dealing with biologically caused psychological problems. The parents, unknowingly, backed her further into a room  with no windows, a room with no air and no escape.  She was pinned down like the moths in the showcases at  Bulbarrow.

 

Vivi, born with all of her chemicals was able to see she wasn't receiving all that was necessary to lead a normal life in her home. She, therefore, tried to rescue herself by breaking free of the net, Bulbarrow. Unfortunately, she came back home again to a house which had really been her prison. She sacrificed her freedom to renew a relationship with her sister. I wonder did she come back with the idea of using Ginny as a surrogate parent. I feel Ginny's purpose for coming back home was not for a happy, happy sisterly family reunion. She came with a deeper purpose.  I think a more selfish purpose.

 


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Re: Additional Topics/Free will



bookhunter wrote:
 

Donna, I agree with you that we have free will.  But I have had a good time thinking about and discussing the "illusion" of free will with friends and family.  I have examined many of my own actions and decisions, wondering how much my biology plays into the decisions I make.  When I am really honest, I think my biology plays a much larger part than I want it to!  The free will comes in when we actively choose to rise above the biological impulses and choose something against our nature.
 
For example, Donna said we make decisions every day like whether to go to work or not.  But do you REALLY wake up every morning and say to yourself "I CHOOSE to go to work today" or do you think some of those type choices get put on "autopilot?"  Because you are a responsible adult (I am assuming you are, Donna! :smileywink: ) , you go to work.  That is partially your biology, I think, even if it is a "trained" part that developed as you grew up. 
 
The spiritual side of that question is the "rule book" or guide that we use to help us make free will decisions, maybe.  The spiritual is what helps us rise above the biology because it mkes us rely on something outside of OUR biology.
 
Paul says in Romans 7:15 "I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."  I don't think you have to be a Christian to relate to the struggle Paul refers to!  Just try going on a diet!
 
I think of Maud and her drinking, and hope that when she is sober she loves Ginny and does not want to harm her.  Probably does not even want to drink.  Addiction is a powerful force to overcome, and once alcohol has impaired her "free will" she does things she does not want to do.
 
Ann, bookhunter  (thanking Karen for opening some new discussion threads!)


Message Edited by bookhunter on 03-19-2008 09:46 PM

I definitely agree with you, Ann. There are some things that become second nature to us. We also have learned behaviors that seem to be out of our active control. When Maud started drinking, it was her choice, her use of her free will. But then, something biological happened and she no longer had control. There was no one to help her, no one to intervene. I don't believe that she ever wanted to hurt Ginny, but alcohol changed her and took her choices and reason away.
DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion

When I first read the book, I wasn't sure if there was anything mentally wrong with Ginny when she was younger.  It was hard to determine though becuase we are seeing Ginny's memories of herself and her family years after the events took place.  I tended to think that Ginny's recollections weren't always reliable because time tends to distort our perceptions of events that took place long ago.  After the discussions started and I read what others were seeing with Ginny (that she was autistic, had OCD, etc.), I could see some of those traits in Ginny.  I too was surprised then when the author said that there really was nothing wrong with Ginny as a child - that her time spent alone made her eccentric.
 
What I have ultimately decided is that Ginny was a product of her environment - the nature vs. nuture debate.  I think that Maud did not see in Ginny what she hoped to see - someone more like her - so therefore Ginny was not normal.   The family then tried to protect and shelter Ginny (not sending her to school until Vivi was ready, keeping her at home when Vivi was expelled, the visits with the doctor, assigning Ginny a job that would keep her at home rather than allowing her to leave as she got older).  They kep Ginny dependent on them so that she would not grow as a person.  Gradually, Ginny developed her own little world where what she believed was the truth.  Vivi's return shattered that belief and Ginny could not handle that.  I also think that towards the end, Ginny did start to develop some symptoms of dementia that combined with the shattering of her world as she knew it caused her to kill Vivi.

bentley wrote:
I think we have to ask ourselves what exactly was wrong with Ginny, when did it manifest itself and how serious was it. Poppy Adams indicated that there was not much wrong with Ginny when she was younger, that she became more of an eccentric later on and then whatever issues there were they seemed to take hold in her later life. From reading the novel, I obviously mistakenly felt as did others that Ginny was autistic or had some other issue like that or worse. I also suspected that the Doctor, Clive and Maud were protecting her because of their specific knowledge of her malady. I was shocked when Poppy explained that Ginny's issues were not serious when she was younger. If one is saying that what happened to her as a child is what contributed to her other psychiatric symptoms, I never saw that. I honestly believed she was what she was at birth and the manifestations of that condition worsened with time and age; thus contributing and exacerbating her already delicate psychiatric state. I have to admit that this is the novel that I read and how I interpreted it. I am sure that since Ginny was an unreliable narrator that there are probably as many different interpretations as there are readers. Ginny was a very interesting puzzle.


CAG
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Re: Additional Topics/Early treatment

DSaff I really like how you responded to Karen's question. I especially agree with your thought that we are looking at things from the 21st  century eyes and we do need to remember the differences 50 years ago. I also liked what you said about Ginny not having "survival skills". Anyway, you made some great points. It doesn't matter to me if Ginny was odd or had (in my mind) a specific psychological disorder, she had to create her own world and that is was makes her so interesting to me. 

DSaff wrote:


KxBurns wrote:

Poppy has posed some wonderful questions within her answers to our questions. I thought we should discuss some of these very thought-provoking issues. Thanks Poppy!

 

 

- How does the family's treatment of Ginny in her early years (pre-Maud's abuse) contribute to the person she became? Specifically, what might have been the impact of Maud’s suspicions or both Maud and Clive's sheltering of Ginny?

 

As Poppy puts it: "…did she just have very introvert non-communicative traits as a child that her mother (and the doctor) did not understand and therefore assumed must be psychological 'faults'.  Then, because of the way she was treated (imagine a basically 'normal' but introvert and unusual child being treated the way she was treated - sheltered, feared, blamed, fed with moth information and killing, led to believe that animals are unconscious and perhaps humans have no choice in their actions etc etc), perhaps they created who she became (reclusive, OCD and other psychiatric symptoms, and then someone with potential to murder)

OR was she born with this 'condition' from the outset."

 

Discuss!


Great questions, Karen. I think I will start with the first one. We are looking at the characters and situations through 21st century eyes, so many of the things that are available now weren't available 50 or more years ago. Things we take for granted just weren't in place for parents.  I think that Maude and Clive knew something was different with Ginny and enlisted the help of the doctor to figure out what was going on. Did she have a learning disability or personality disorder? Maybe, but Poppy's statement made me think that maybe Ginny was just a quiet child who didn't react to things. We even find that behavior odd today. Whatever was "wrong" with Ginny was worsened by the over-protectiveness of her parents. She needed her sister with her whenever she was outside and it seems she wasn't alone much in the house either. Ginny didn't get to develop her survival skills - the ones we use everyday to communicate with the world around us. Then, when she was "abandoned" by everyone who protected her, Ginny was left to create a world in her own mind. That world needed to be manageable, so she got rid of the things in the house and created her own space. When Vivi came back, Ginny didn't know how to cope. There wasn't a warmth in their meeting. There seemed something sinister in Ginny's mind. So, to try to get things manageable again, Ginny killed her sister. In the end, Ginny is in her own, manageable space, reliving her life in her mind. What a sad story! Anyway, that is my take on it. Others???  :smileyvery-happy:



CAG
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Re: Additional Topics/Early treatment



CAG wrote:
DSaff I really like how you responded to Karen's question. I especially agree with your thought that we are looking at things from the 21st century eyes and we do need to remember the differences 50 years ago. I also liked what you said about Ginny not having "survival skills". Anyway, you made some great points. It doesn't matter to me if Ginny was odd or had (in my mind) a specific psychological disorder, she had to create her own world and that is was makes her so interesting to me.


Thank you, CAG. I love a book that makes me think!
DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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