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psujulie
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

One thing that jumped out at me was on the top of page 52. "Then she (Maud) lectured me about how clever I was and what a lot I had going for me, which, I have to say, both my parents did frequently. They never seemed to offer the same compliments to Vivi."
 
I found that idea very interesting. Since Ginny is telling the story, I realize that I have to filter the information. But, it seems like Ginny's parents did try to support her and build her up.
 
I also found it interesting that Maud says the school was looking for any excuse to get rid of them -- that the school was prejudiced. Is there something more to the entire family that we will learn later?
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psujulie
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

My favorite part of this chapter was when Ginny describes the difference between the way collectors and Clive studied moths. "Collectors have one goal in common: they are looking for the perfect unadulterated specimen, with flawless markings and anatomical composition" On the other hand, Clive wanted to study the imperfections. "If you could work out, he said, how they'd gone wrong, you'd discover a lot more about how nature worked."
 
Do these two philosophies of "studying" nature foreshadow the personalities of the sisters in any way?
 
Having said that, the parts about breeding the perfect freak "freaked" me out. I think even if Ginny had been relatively normal (just reserved and shy) as a child, working so closely with her father could have been quite disturbing (especially when she was told that was her future rather than getting to decide for herself.)
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Laurabairn
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Re: Chapter 5: Moths -- p. 54

Thanks for the links! They are more attractive and varied than the moths I've seen. Perhaps a good metaphor for Ginny? That she has much beauty that will be revealed if we study her closely? Certainly she is not a quick study.
 
I have to agree with you on the science...I expected a little more in terms of detail of we were to be drawn into Clives (and Ginny's ) world. One of the unexpected benefits and pleasures of reading a novel on an obscure topic is a window into the world of that profession. I can't say I feel like I'm etting a lot of insight into the life of a lepidopterist.
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Laurabairn
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

The ending of the chapter and Clives obsession with : "pupal soup" , I find rather chilling.
"It was inconceivable to him that his existence had no greater purpose, that it could be as worthless as the lives of the creatures he studdied. My family was fanatical. They were all consumed by something in the end.
 
What was Maud consumed by? Clive? Ginny and Viv are still alive... have they been consumed by something? I don't currently see Maud or Vivi as fanatical so I wonder if this is forehadowing or another way for the author to tell us Ginny's perceptions are off base?
 
 
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dhaupt
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

I also found the caterpillar story horrifying but, I think it's telling as to the character of Clive and his relationship with Ginny who I think he sees as a kindred spirit so he wants to share this experience with her.I also gained new respect for Clive in this chapter and realized that he's just like any old mad scientist who forgets to eat or wash or anything except his passion. I really don't understand Vivi's expulsion either or why it was decided that just being Vivi's sister was enough reason to expel Ginny too. There has to be some reason that we don't know about.
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psawyers
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

I think that is just the point . . . Clive and Ginny are almost exactly alike.  They are so caught up in their studies of caterpillars and moths.  To them, this study of what, to most people, are insignificant creatures, is their world, and the most important things in their world.  For two people so insightful into the insignificant, they cannot see what is happing in their own world and with their own families.  They are blind to what is the most important things for everyone else, and cannot understand why family and others are important to everyone else.
 
Paula
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Peppermill
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Re: Chapter 5: Judging an Introvert

[ Edited ]

nmccarthy wrote:

I have a different take on Ginny after reading the first five chapters. I think she's a bit eccentric now, but quite content and centered in her life. Here's my theory: Ginny was born an introvert; an analytical one at that, similar to her father's personality. Maud and Vivian are both extroverts and comfortable expressing their emotions. Ginny definitely has feelings; she talks about them throughout the first five chapters. When she thought her sister died in the bell tower, she "felt my own future reduced to a dead and eventless vacuum, a mere biological process." Ginny just doesn't display her emotions; she's not the type of person you'll find screaming and yelling at a football game.

As 75% of the human population are extroverts, it would be easy to see how some introvert personalities may be considered abnormal, especially 60 years ago. My hunch is that Maud saw Ginny from birth as abnormal and treated her as such because she was so different than Maud; she didn't understand Ginny. To her detriment, Clive was too involved in his work to show an interest in Ginny at an early age. Ginny needed him to reassure her that she was okay and to allay Maud's and the Doctor's concerns. If there is anything wrong with Ginny, which may prove out in later chapters, then I can't help but feel it's due in large part to her parent's treatment. Again, we only have her perceptions as narrator to go on at this point.... (Bold added.)
Thank you for these words, Nancy. Although I am reserving judgment on who or what is going to turn out to be wacko in this story (I have an ominous sense someone or something will), I have been absolutely fascinated how quick the readers posting have been to assign that assessment to Ginny based on these first five chapters.

If, as you hypothesize, the issue is at least partially one of extrovert versus introvert, I hope we will all stop to think about whether and when we are willing to get to know introverts before judging them or denying the extending of trust to them.

(I happen to have this on-going conversation for years with a friend who is strongly the opposite of myself -- I have come to be amazed at the tensions just in communications that can lie below the surfaces of these two [Meyers-Briggs] assessments of personality.)

Note -- on rethinking, I want to clarify that I use "wacko" here in the sense of "absurdly irrational" and in no way intend to be offensive about what could turn out to be serious mental illness.

Pepper

Message Edited by Peppermill on 03-04-2008 11:21 AM
"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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Peppermill
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Re: Chapter 5: Moths -- Literary Analogies/Lepidoptery


Laurabairn wrote {ed}:...They are more attractive and varied than the moths I've seen. Perhaps a good metaphor for Ginny? That she has much beauty that will be revealed if we study her closely? Certainly she is not a quick study.

...One of the unexpected benefits and pleasures of reading a novel on an obscure topic is a window into the world of that profession. I can't say I feel like I'm getting a lot of insight into the life of a lepidopterist.


Laura -- thank you for your thoughtful posts and for posing some sentiments that will perhaps encourage us to explore possibilities and not rush to conclusions before our author takes us on the journey she has planned for us.
"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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MsMorninglight
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

Ah, okay, now the butterflies and moths really come into play. But, yes, a big UGH! on the imagery of the caterpillar  being eaten alive from the inside.  Well written description, but TOO much information! :smileywink:  And poor Ginny being exposed to this at 6 years old! 
 
In this chapter, Clive, sounds to be more like Doctor Frankenstein, than a lepidopterist.   We definitely have some oddball characters coming alive!  And as has been brought up previously in the discussion, the obsessive behaviors are showing through: "My family was fanatical. They all seem consumed by something in the end."
 

 

KxBurns wrote:

Right off the bat, I will admit that while the story of the monster caterpillar was riveting, I also thought it was pretty horrific. Are we intended to see the caterpillar’s being eaten alive from the inside out by maggots as a metaphor for something??xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:smileysurprised:ffice:smileysurprised:ffice" />

 







"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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SleightGirl
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

I almost wonder if she's not a little bit autistic?
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SleightGirl
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

I see it as Ginny is the Caterpillar and the maggots are things that are eating at her from the inside out.  The caterpillar looks only a little odd at first, but then we find out what's brewing underneath.
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Everyman
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Re: Chapter 5: Moths -- p. 54

I agree -- I had no idea why she had bothered to quote a formula which had no meaning, other perhaps than to try to make the science look impressive -- a Potemkin science, as it were. But since the science isn't the point of the book (at least so far), I'm not as concerned as you are. But then, I'm not a scientist either!

Peppermill wrote:
Incidentally, so far I am unimpressed with the science as presented. The algebraic expression/equation on p. 54 seems worse than useless -- there is absolutely no discussion of the meanings assigned to the variables (beyond being constituents of the moth). I am going to need further discussion before some of the descriptions become plausible -- I haven't been able to verify them with short, limited web searches.
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Everyman
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup



LisaMM wrote:
"Vivi was supposed to be the one to make something of the life she nearly lost when she was eight, not me. I just fell into it, and now my name will be heard for many years to come, whispered through the corridors of one eminent institution or other, citing my papers or my expertise..."

Delusions of grandeur??



Yes, it's hard to see how she thinks this happened when she was a reclusive stay-at-home who virtually never saw anybody. I found it very hard to reconcile a world renounced scientist with the woman we see in these first chapters.
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DreamAngel052986
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

my opinon about this chapter is that the auther spent to much time on the bugs. i was more interested on what was going on with the sisters... this goes for all the chapters that go in depth about the bugs. although we do learn more and more about their father when Ginny talks about the bugs....so maybe its not too bad.
 
 
 
Caitlin
 
 
 
"Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourses of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness."
Helen Keller (1880 - 1968)
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dubbuh
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

I was most impressed with all the relationships and where they may be going.  I have to admit that I skimmed over a lot of the moth stuff.  I have a feeling it's very significant indicating possibly finding the good from something really yukky (possibly their family relations) or just adding to the darkness of a lot of their lives.  It just seems to put a finishing touch on some of the unpleasant things that must have gone on in the house.  I too see the division in personalities: Maud and Vivi more emotional and outgoing; Ginny and Clive more scientific and less of the "people person".
 
To me it's all summed up nicely in the last two sentences: "It was inconceivable to him that his existence had no greater prupose, that it could be as worthless as he considered the lives of the creatures he studied.  My family was fanatical.  They all seemed to be consumed by something in the end."  That bit of foreshadowing really got my imagination going!!
 
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lcnh1
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

I agree.  Ginny as an adult seems content with her life.  She is introverted and has chosen a lifestyle that suits her personality.  Sometimes it is hard to understand another person when there personlaity is so different from your own.  Maud is definitely an extrovert.  I like how nmccarthy thought that Maud would see Ginny as abnormal because she is so different from herself.  My question is, if she saw Ginny as abnormal how did she feel about Clive who had the same personality type?

nmccarthy wrote:
I have a different take on Ginny after reading the first five chapters. I think she's a bit eccentric now, but quite content and centered in her life. Here's my theory: Ginny was born an introvert; an analytical one at that, similar to her father's personality. Maud and Vivian are both extroverts and comfortable expressing their emotions. Ginny definitely has feelings; she talks about them throughout the first five chapters. When she thought her sister died in the bell tower, she "felt my own future reduced to a dead and eventless vacuum, a mere biological process." Ginny just doesn't display her emotions; she's not the type of person you'll find screaming and yelling at a football game.
 
As 75% of the human population are extroverts, it would be easy to see how some introvert personalities may be considered abnormal, especially 60 years ago. My hunch is that Maud saw Ginny from birth as abnormal and treated her as such because she was so different than Maud; she didn't understand Ginny. To her detriment, Clive was too involved in his work to show an interest in Ginny at an early age. Ginny needed him to reassure her that she was okay and to allay Maud's and the Doctor's concerns. If there is anything wrong with Ginny, which may prove out in later chapters, then I can't help but feel it's due in large part to her parent's treatment. Again, we only have her perceptions as narrator to go on at this point.
 
Karen, with regards to your quote about why Clive "concentrated on breeding the perfect freak", and the quote "While most lepidopterists concentrated on breeding the perfect insect..." (also found in the same paragraph on pg. 55), I think Clive was looking for the "different", the "introvert", the "abnormal", a speciman much like himself. 
 
Someone suggested that Ginny represented the moth and Vivan the butterfly; that makes sense to me - at least through chapter five.
 
KxBurns wrote:


Finally, I really enjoyed that we learn more about Clive and his professional endeavors in this chapter. I found it significant that Clive is most interested in studying nature’s imperfections and that, to do so, he “concentrated on breeding the perfect freak” (p. 55). Do you think Clive’s obsession with making a scientific discovery of his own blinds him to the cruelty of his methods? Or do you agree that the moth’s lack of individuality and awareness (which lead to an absence of conscious choice…) make it the perfect specimen for such studies?



Karen



Message Edited by KxBurns on 03-03-2008 07:51 PM








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ELee
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup



Laurabairn wrote:
The ending of the chapter and Clives obsession with : "pupal soup" , I find rather chilling.
"It was inconceivable to him that his existence had no greater purpose, that it could be as worthless as the lives of the creatures he studdied. My family was fanatical. They were all consumed by something in the end.
 
I don't currently see Maud or Vivi as fanatical so I wonder if this is forehadowing or another way for the author to tell us Ginny's perceptions are off base?
 

For me, Ginny's observation of her father just emphasizes how much of a paradox she is.  Like her father, in this same chapter she appears to also value a greater purpose and recognition in life.
 
"...and now my name will be heard for many years to come, whispered throught the corridors of one eminent institution or other, citing my papers or my expertise in practical experimentation, the insight of my deductions or the acuity of my hypotheses.  I hope you don't think me immodest to imagine that those praises would now have spread around the world..." (p. 52)
 
And yet earlier, when Vivien complained that Ginny "erased" the family existence by emptying the house, she responds
 
"Is it really necessary to record your life in order to make it worthwhile or commendable?  Is it worthless to die without reference?  Surely those testimonials last another generation of two at most,...we're a mere fleck in the tremendous universal cycle of energy, but no one can abide the thought of their life...being lost...as swiftly and as meaningless as an unspoken idea." 
 
In other words, like the lives of the creatures they studied, the moths.
 
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LizzieAnn
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

[ Edited ]
I think that the story of the caterpillar was not only horrific (yuck), but it symbolizes something about Ginny that will be revealed slowly.  The idea of the maggots as mental illness is an interesting one as well as the idea of Ginny devouring her family.  Either way, I agree that it's an odd think to put into the story if it didn't relate in some way.


Message Edited by LizzieAnn on 03-04-2008 01:26 PM
Liz ♥ ♥


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LizzieAnn
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

That is an interesting catch!  Why prejudice?  Is there something more about the family's history?


vivico1 wrote:

Something I found curious about the school expulsion, on page 52,Ginny said Maud accused Miss Randal of trying to find any excuse to get rid of them. She said the school was prejudice. Prejudice?? about what? what an odd choice of words, or deliberate. Just very interesting term to use.


Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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GMorrison
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup



vivico1 wrote:
Something I found curious about the school expulsion, on page 52,Ginny said Maud accused Miss Randal of trying to find any excuse to get rid of them. She said the school was prejudice. Prejudice?? about what? what an odd choice of words, or deliberate. Just very interesting term to use.




You know, the more I think about this incident and the possibilities as to the true nature of Ginny and Vivi's relationship, I wonder if the expulsion wasn't actually due to a mental or developmental problem, and the banana story Ginny's way of rationalizing it to herself as a child. After all, mental illnesses--and even harmless "not fitting in"--were treated very differently during the time period of Ginny's childhood than they are today.

Given the fact that Ginny was enrolled in school well after most children her age, I think the case can be made that there was some mental or behavioral reason why she was kept at home for so long, and that this has a great deal to do with why she was taken out of school as well.
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