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KxBurns
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Chapter 4: Belinda's Pot

[ Edited ]

One passage in this chapter stood out to me as being particularly significant. From page 39:

 

“I’ll tell you a strange old thing that I’d never have predicted. I can feel the start of mine and Vivien’s relationship re-forming again, but – and this is what is odd – it’s in exactly the same way it was half a century ago as if we’ve not matured at all, as if our childhood is flooding in and scrabbling to catch up with our old age: Here I am again, leaving the decision with her, waiting for her to judge whether our little altercation over the furniture is over and to resume our reunion. Vivien sets the rules and the boundaries, she takes the risks, and I’m there waiting for her if she needs me. I’d almost forgotten that it was my role.”

 

From what we’ve read so far, is this an accurate assessment of the dynamic between Ginny and Vivi? Does Ginny’s spying on her sister a few pages later alter your impression of the relationship? What about Ginny’s recollection of their school days and Vivien’s failure to do anything about the taunting that Ginny endured at the hands of her classmates?

 

I thought the passage about Ginny’s escape into her own head (page 44) was especially well written, although I question Maud’s role in her daughter’s social maladjustment. Earlier in this chapter, Ginny describes her mother as a “near faultless woman” (p. 37) and she does sound admirable. But I’m wondering if Maud’s encouragement of her daughter’s withdrawal into herself was an attempt to protect Ginny from something, or was in fact the source of Ginny’s difficulties with social interaction? One thing that is becoming quite clear is that the sisters were treated very differently by their parents.

 

Your thoughts?

 

Karen



Message Edited by KxBurns on 03-03-2008 07:48 PM
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vivico1
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Re: Chapter 4: Belinda's Pot


KxBurns wrote:

I thought the passage about Ginny’s escape into her own head (page 44) was especially well written, although I question Maud’s role in her daughter’s social maladjustment. Earlier in this chapter, Ginny describes her mother as a “near faultless woman” (p. 37) and she does sound admirable. But I’m wondering if Maud’s encouragement of her daughter’s withdrawal into herself was an attempt to protect Ginny from something, or was in fact the source of Ginny’s difficulties with social interaction? One thing that is becoming quite clear is that the sisters were treated very differently by their parents.



Your thoughts?



Karen



Message Edited by KxBurns on 03-03-2008 07:48 PM


I SO agree with you on this part about what Maud was teaching Ginny on pages 43-45. This was very disturbing, to find her teaching her daughter how to basically withdrawn deep inside herself as a means of "self control" when picked on or scared. How dysfunctional is that? She is teaching her how NOT to handle social settings, disappointments and even the good things of life that might be scary at first. And Ginny certainly learned well didn't she. Now, not only can she run away and hide in her own mind, but she has this whole big house to hide away in too. I think now, with the obsession about time she has, maybe Ginny loses blocks of time if she is not careful, in both aspects, going inside herself and getting lost, or staying inside the house and being lost.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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carriele
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Re: Chapter 4: Belinda's Pot

I couldn't help but think that Maud going to the school and "fixing" Ginny's problems did anything other than make them worse.  We have learned that Ginny seems to have social interaction problems to begin with.  I feel that Maud may have been acting with the best intentions but probably created more heartache for Ginny than she realized. 
 
I also feel bad that Vivi went off in her own circles and left Ginny on her own.  It seems school may have been just another arena in which Ginny was misunderstood.  Since all we know is based on Ginny's recollection, we cannot be certain to any degree of what truly went on though.
 
Finally, throughout this chapter I kept asking myself what is Ginny so afraid of?  Some people have speculated that she is perhaps agoraphobic, but it seems to go beyond that.  Others have stated OCD.  A great example of this would be how bothered she was that Vivi's driver touched the door.  How will she ever get him off of it?  (Not his germs...him).  But in the end, something about Ginny seems very troubling and not easy to understand. 
 
Carrie E. 
 
 
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Charlottesweb1
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Re: Chapter 4: Belinda's Pot

One thing that perplexes me is Maud's hatred /disappointment with Ginny.
Is it because in terms of personality she is more withdrawn like her father?Ms Adams keeps commenting on how Maud and Vivien have always had a warm relationship. The two seemed to be very driven and determined.
This difference in personalities and the fact that Maud clearly enjoyed Vivien's company over her could be the stem of the sisters rivalry.
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Tasses
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Re: Chapter 4: Belinda's Pot



carriele wrote:
But in the end, something about Ginny seems very troubling and not easy to understand. 
 
Carrie E. 
 
 





I couldn't have said it better, Carrie E.
Ginny is hiding something and whatever it is, it's not going to be pretty (little prediction there).

Vivi seems like a normal well-adjusted person. Maybe she always knew that she'd have to take care of her sister one day and just waited until as long as possible for that day. Having been raised by a person with mental illness, I can state unequivocally that their perceptions are not to be trusted. Since this story is first person, Ginny narrating, I'll bet Maud wasn't a saint and Vivi has some stories to tell MUCH differently than her sister will tell them.
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carriele
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Re: Chapter 4: Belinda's Pot

Do you really think that Maud hated Ginny?  I get the feeling that she just couldn't relate to her or understand her.  Ginny is frequently compared to Clive and it seems that Maud enjoyed Clive even though his social skills were limited.  I couldn't help but think of all the women who have children and worry about not having that instant maternal bond.  Maybe those feelings simply didn't come to light for Maud for some reason.  I think some parents favor one child over another whether intentional or not. 
 
Carrie E. 

Charlottesweb1 wrote:
One thing that perplexes me is Maud's hatred /disappointment with Ginny.
Is it because in terms of personality she is more withdrawn like her father?Ms Adams keeps commenting on how Maud and Vivien have always had a warm relationship. The two seemed to be very driven and determined.
This difference in personalities and the fact that Maud clearly enjoyed Vivien's company over her could be the stem of the sisters rivalry.



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GMorrison
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Re: Chapter 4: Belinda's Pot


KxBurns wrote:


One passage in this chapter stood out to me as being particularly significant. From page 39:


 


“I’ll tell you a strange old thing that I’d never have predicted. I can feel the start of mine and Vivien’s relationship re-forming again, but – and this is what is odd – it’s in exactly the same way it was half a century ago as if we’ve not matured at all, as if our childhood is flooding in and scrabbling to catch up with our old age: Here I am again, leaving the decision with her, waiting for her to judge whether our little altercation over the furniture is over and to resume our reunion. Vivien sets the rules and the boundaries, she takes the risks, and I’m there waiting for her if she needs me. I’d almost forgotten that it was my role.”


 





Interesting that you pulled this quote out, as it absolutely jumped out at me--so much so that I even remembered the page number and made a note to comment on that section. I personally wonder whether there isn't more to this. I know it's extremely premature speculation, but I have to wonder if Vivi didn't actually die when she fell off the roof, and if her return isn't being imagined by a lonely, senile Ginny. (Think something along the lines of The Others or Surrender.) My suspicions have only been deepened by Maud's "training" of Ginny to "take refuge" (I'd say withdraw) deep within herself instead of confronting and dealing with her problems.

And there you have it, folks! My pet theory 39 pages into the novel:-)

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runnybabbit620
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Re: Chapter 4: Belinda's Pot

As stated earlier from my post on the last chapter, I think that things are going well so far between the sisters, but some tension still abides.  That and the matter of the amount of time that has elapsed since last they saw each other.  Maybe also some carrying tension from Vivi's discovery that Ginny has sold some odd bits of furniture to increase her pension?  I wonder if Ginny is spying on Vivi to see what Vivi discovers is missing or if Vivi is looking for something and that this may be the reason for her sudden reappearance after a long estrangement?  We see that Ginny's doing a fair amount of snooping to see what Vivi's up to, but we never really can tell what Vivi is truly up to.
 
I find it odd that Maud sent both girls to Lady Mary Winsham's School for Girls when it appears to be only for Vivi's benefit as the school focuses on their MPC's (manners, posture, and conversation).  I guess they were both brought into the school as a package deal (p.39)?
 
At the end of the chapter we get an insight into Ginny's confusion upon Vivi's reappearance when she asks herself "why it is now, after all these years, that she's decided to come home".  That is the question we, in addition to Ginny, are asking ourselves.
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JAZ
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Re: Chapter 4: Belinda's Pot

I thought Maud's encouragement of Ginny to withdraw within herself was an odd thing for a mother to do.  Did something horrible happen in Ginny's childhood that hiding from the truth was a good thing?  And in her own hiding will she also hide it from the reader?
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bichonlover1
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Re: Chapter 4: Belinda's Pot

I do think we do not know the entire story of what has happened to these Sisters in thier younger years. I feel an undercurrent running just below the story so far and am looking forward to finding out what it is.
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Everyman
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Re: Chapter 4: Belinda's Pot



Tasses wrote:
... >Ginny is hiding something and whatever it is, it's not going to be pretty (little prediction there).

Vivi seems like a normal well-adjusted person.>

I agree with you about Ginny.

I don't so much agree about Vivian. I don't think the way she's taking over the house that Ginny has lived in for fifty years is normal or well-adjusted. It's unusually bossy and controlling.
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Everyman
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Re: Chapter 4: Belinda's Pot

>GMorrison wrote: I know it's extremely premature speculation, but I have to wonder if Vivi didn't actually die when she fell off the roof, and if her return isn't being imagined by a lonely, senile Ginny.

Wow. Now there's a theory that never even crossed the furthest reaches of my mind. I can't imagine that you're right, but if you are this is a much more bizarre novel than I think any of us ever conceived it could possibly be.
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sriensche
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Re: Chapter 4: Belinda's Pot

Oh I so do not believe that Vivi is well adjusted.  Who stays out of touch for almost 50 years and then writes to say I am coming home? We as readers are limited in that we hear only Ginny but we can take some of the history and see for ourselves that while Ginny is not wired the same as most people, Vivi is not a perfect example of a normal well adjusted adult either.
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vivico1
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Re: Chapter 4: Belinda's Pot


sriensche wrote:
Oh I so do not believe that Vivi is well adjusted. Who stays out of touch for almost 50 years and then writes to say I am coming home? We as readers are limited in that we hear only Ginny but we can take some of the history and see for ourselves that while Ginny is not wired the same as most people, Vivi is not a perfect example of a normal well adjusted adult either.



Doesn't that depend some on why she left tho, and the question no one has asked yet, why is she coming home at all? If this family was that messed up, maybe the most well adjusted one would get the heck out of there.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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GMorrison
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Re: Chapter 4: Belinda's Pot



Everyman wrote:
>GMorrison wrote: I know it's extremely premature speculation, but I have to wonder if Vivi didn't actually die when she fell off the roof, and if her return isn't being imagined by a lonely, senile Ginny.

Wow. Now there's a theory that never even crossed the furthest reaches of my mind. I can't imagine that you're right, but if you are this is a much more bizarre novel than I think any of us ever conceived it could possibly be.




I doubt I'm right as well, although given what we know of the story thus far it seems as plausible as anything else. I just think there has to be some significance to the title The Sister. If this book were about the relationship between Ginny and Vivi, one would expect a plural--The Sisters. So I'm casting about for explanations as to that word choice.
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kbbg42
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Re: Chapter 4: Belinda's Pot

I think the reason that they waited to send the girls to school together was that Maude didn't think that Ginny could handle going off to school by herself. I think that Maude was afraid of what Ginny might do. The conversation she had with the girls before they left, of watching out for each other I thought was directed more to Vivi. Vivi was to be Ginny's "keeper". Also the retreating into her mind, did her mother teach her that so that she wouldn't react physically to taunts? Was she afraid her daughter might harm a taunter?Vivi not wanting to be around her sister at school,is it really that unusual for a girl of that age to want to be with friends and have fun and be normal and not to have to watch out for her older sister? Maybe that was why Vivi left, and maybe now she feels guilty about abandoning her sister and that's why she has returned. It's creepy the way that Ginny is eavesdropping on Vivi, and the way she cannot bring herself to go to that side of the house because it is out of the normal order of things. I still feel she is either a sociopath or a paranoid scizophrenic.
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MsMorninglight
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Re: Chapter 4: Belinda's Pot

Well, this chapter tells us a bit more about Clive and Maude.  It definitely sounds like Vivi takes more after her mother & Ginny after her father. 
 
I felt saddened by Ginny's experiences at school.  Anyone who was never one of the "cool kids" can relate to her not fitting in.  It was even sadder to see that Vivi didn't do what she could to make it less difficult for her sister.  It appears Ginny is not only a head strong young woman, but also a very self-centered one. And reading on in the chapter, the way she's just bulldozed herself in the house, having furniture delivered etc., she's definitely spoiled and used to having her way.
 
 



"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind." - Henry James
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renhair
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Re: Chapter 4: Belinda's Pot

It appeared to me that Vivi was embarrassed by Ginny.  Perhaps that anyother point towards something being wrong with Ginny?
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LisaMM
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Re: Chapter 4: Belinda's Pot

I haven't seen this mentioned (maybe I missed it). I'm intrigued by the section on p. 42 that reads:

"She's on the other side of the landing from my bedroom, through the glass-paned double doors, and I've not been in that part of the house for more than forty years. I doubt I'd even be able to. I wouldn't feel safe. It's not for superstitious reasons, I'm far too levelheaded for that. It's just not what I call the Normal Order of Things. I do like Order."

Ok, a couple things. Why the weird capitalization in the last 2 sentences? Why doesn't she feel safe in that part of the house? What happened there?
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ClaudiaLuce
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Re: Chapter 4: Belinda's Pot

After reading the speculation that Vivien actually died during her accident, here is another take for us to consider.  How about Ginny / Vivien being one and the same person.  The Vivi personality could have been buried deep inside for 50 years after having been prominent during childhood, then suddenly reappeared. Just a thought!
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