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GMorrison
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Registered: ‎12-20-2007
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Re: Chapter 5: Moths -- p. 54



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.




I don't think the equation was supposed to mean anything--rather, it was just a shorthand way for Ginny to convey her father's belief that everything can be reduced to static components. Ginny was trying to explain to the reader that her father believed that, if he could discover what x, y, and z were, he could manufacture a moth in a test tube, and that his view of life and nature are completely mechanistic. Questions of "soul" or "chi" or "lifeforce" or whatever play no part in it.

Thanks for the links, by the way!
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ladytoad
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Re: Chapter 5: Moths -- p. 54

Something I find interesting about the last sentence in this chapter is Ginny's use of third person when she is talking about her family. "THEY were all consumed by something  in the end." She does not seem to be counting herself as part of the family unit.
 
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maryfrancesa
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

Do we really think Clive has any insight into his own family.  I might say that he accepts the imperfects of his family but I wonder if he really interacts with anyone in the family that much except Ginny who as several people have said her destiny had been decided for her by others. 
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maryfrancesa
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

The reader can see a difference in how both the sister's are perceived.  Vi as the life of the party, I wonder if she was spoiled before her accident.  I guess we could say she was spoiled after the "accident".  Both went to school becuase it would benefit Viv more than Ginny since she was much older and more shy.
It would seem that Ginny lives/lived a very sheltered life and that shse was always looking up to her younger sister.
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noannie
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

Reading into the book I feel Ginny has a personality like her father Clive and Vivi takes after the mother Maud. Ginny holds back her feelings like her father, they are very scientific in their research and they look at life the same way. Vivi and Maud experience life and show their feelings. A lot of the talk on the moths etc really started to get boring after a while but obviously were put into the story for a reason. I wonder if Poppy Adams has an interest in this subject herself? One question for her when we can talk to her, looking forward to it.
 
noannie
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Carmenere_lady
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup



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?

 

Karen



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

 
I believe that it is a metaphor.  It seems to me that Ginny is a moth personified, living in that house as if it were a cocoon.  My question is, is something eating at Ginny all these years, has it anything to do with Dr Moyses the possible psych dr/pedophile?
 
Anyway, I'm really enjoying this book.  The author presents us with tantilizing bits of information, so much so that  one has pieces all over the board but none are connecting yet.

Lynda

"I think of literature.....as a vast country to the far borders of which I am journeying but will never reach."
The Uncommon Reader


"You've been running around naked in the stacks again, haven't you?"
"Um, maybe."
The Time Traveler's Wife

It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part.
Voltaire
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Frank_n_beans
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup



CathieS wrote:

What I can't help wondering about was why they were a package deal, both when they were brought into the school and with the expulsion.  I wasn't sure if Ginny really did something and her sister took the heat for it,  maybe Ginny doesn't remember or that Ginny's problems are bigger than we know and that's why it was a package deal


I also thought this was really interesting, Cathie.  It seems as though Ginny has additional problems or challenges that everyone else is aware of except for her...
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krb2g
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Registered: ‎02-05-2008
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Narrative Time in Chapters 1-5

I'm interested in Poppy Adam's structuring choices for the book. The first five chapters, which are identified collectively as "Friday" in the Table of Contents, definitely move the story forward in the time of narration (Ginny waits for Vivian, Vivian arrives with her old dog, Ginny stalks/spys on Vivian as she moves about the house, the sisters argue about the sale of the furniture, and they eat pizza together), but Ginny also spends a large portion of this section (including almost the whole of Chapter 5) narrating ancient (well, say more than 50 years old), family history.

This split in time both creates and eases suspense--Vivian falls off the bell tower and nearly dies, we learn in the first chapter, and Maud's response to Ginny's possible role in the accident in the second chapter has troubled many of us, and so I think we're all waiting for more information about the bell tower accident specifically and Ginny's childhood and mental state more generally, but we also know that things will end up with Ginny living alone in her childhood house fifty-nine years later, waiting for Vivian to come.

Also complicating this dual narrative timeline (where back-story about Ginny and Vivian's past is filled in as they participate in a story happening in the "present day") is Ginny's unreliability as narrator. She seems unable to deal with people in emotionally healthy ways (she can't even welcome Vivian's dog to the house normally) and acts positively reclusive. Furthermore, she's talking about her childhood, which is a long time ago for her--and even if it weren't, childhood memories are not always the most reliable--especially considering that Ginny's already not very good at interpreting people.

I know it's far too early to make any final conclusions about why Poppy Adams chose to write her book by filling in a lot of past history while telling a present-day story, but I do want to remain aware of these structural choices and how they affect the way we interpret the information she has presented us.
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Peppermill
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Re: Chapter 5: Lepidopterology

[ Edited ]
Laurabairn put my views well when she wrote: "...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."



Everyman wrote:
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. ....


Message Edited by Peppermill on 03-04-2008 03:04 PM
"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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Frank_n_beans
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Re: Chapter 5: Lepidoptery

This is a general question...but I'm curious as to what everyone thinks about the author's decision to use chapter titles?  I was a little thrown-off by it at first because I felt it was a little childish..but, at the same time, I understand the value in foreshadowing and creating a kind of road map for the reader.  Any thoughts on this?? 
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Elmerfletch
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

Up to this point in the book I can't help but wonder what the author is setting us up for... Ginny has set her life into a pattern and seems very distraught if the pattern is upset in any way.  She doesn't care about material things (furniture), hasn't really held on to memories (she has them, but doesn't spend time poring over scrapbooks or holding on to mementos), but she's set this pattern for herself that she clings to as if it is the reason for her being.  Is this chapter showing us a parallel - that as the "invader" flies destroy the caterpillar, so must Vivi's appearance destroy Ginny's pattern/routines and therefore destroy Ginny?
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Elmerfletch
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

There must be something to this family that hasn't been revealed yet - remember the passage in the first or second chapter where it talks about Maud's reaction to Vivi's falling off teh bell tower and how she is questioning Ginny's involvement in it?  something about "I thought we could be a normal family" or something - it made me think that there was some incident or something strange about Ginny that made them think that Ginny wasn't normal or that she was doing things that were horrible or something - but subsequent chapters don't give us any insight as to what that might be.  I am very curious about this...
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DSaff
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup


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?





The metaphor could be that Ginny is the caterpillar and loneliness is the maggots. I found it a fascinating scene in the book, and while others think the lack of emotion points to problems with Ginny, I found her to be acting like some of the scientists I know, mesmerized by the process.
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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ELee
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Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Chapter 5: Lepidoptery



Frank_n_beans wrote:
This is a general question...but I'm curious as to what everyone thinks about the author's decision to use chapter titles?  I was a little thrown-off by it at first because I felt it was a little childish..but, at the same time, I understand the value in foreshadowing and creating a kind of road map for the reader.  Any thoughts on this?? 


Rather than childish, I would call it child-like.  The chapter titles compartmentalize topics in the same way as thoughts would be ordered in Ginny's mind.
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cocospals
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

I don't think Clive's study of the imperfections of the moth relates to the imperfections in his own family, I beleive Clive uses the moths as a way of running away from his family. He locks himself up and studies them endlessly and I beleive Ginny's interest in the moths is a way for her to spend much needed time away from Maud and brings her closer to Clive
Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there - John Wooden
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nmccarthy
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

In answer to your question Icnh1, I suppose opposites attract in male/female relationships whereas a parent may be looking for similar traits in their same sex child. At the bottom of page 37, the narrator indicates that Clive "was neither sociable nor well groomed, but he was not allowed to hide himself away." Maud insisted he accompany her to social gatherings where he served as "tramp" to her "lady" role. I also think Clive, as an adult, has had time to develop his social skills.
 
Once the evacuees left the house, Ginny didn't have anyone besides her sister with whom to interact, until attending boarding school. Sending a "stay-at-home type" to a boarding school doesn't appear to me the best way to develop social skills in Ginny. How traumatic must that have been. It would have been better to send her to a school where she still comes home in the evening to a "safe" place with people she knows, trusts and with whom she can confide. What really happened at the school?
 
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.
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rianic
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

This is my first post on the board - so sorry if it's a bit confusing - I'm having problems figuring the tabs out.
 
Anyway, I think this is a good point.  I think this could be a good bit of foreshadowing and point to how we let things eat away at us until we just, well, come apart...
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KayceeJV
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

To me this chapter really helped to understand Ginny. I think that she was actually glad that she didn't have to put too much though into the path that her life would follow and is perfectly comfortable with her role. I think the reason the author went in to so much detail about moths was to show us that Ginny's profession is perfect for her. Her job is all about science and order; she never has to deal with humans or emotion at all. In previous chapters her obsession with order is apparent in her comments about time and how she relates to the outside world.

What is more interesting to me is why did Vivi decide to come back? There really isn't anything left for her. Maybe she felt that she had abandoned Ginny and feels guilty or that her sister needs to be taken care of and can no longer be left alone.
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JaneM
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup



KxBurns wrote:

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?

 


Personally, I find the obsession of studying imperfections and the methods used as described on pg. 55 as terrifyingly similar to the stories we have heard about Nazi's using Jews as guinea pigs for experimentation, often as the basis for scientific advancement, or measuring the skulls of black people to provide scientific proof of their inferiority.  Whether it's insects or people, the process is degrading to both the abuser and the abused.  Obviously Maud and Vivi shared this aversion as Maud said it "was a sick sideshow of scientific perversion, and Vivi called it the Frankenstein Room."

 

I have been tantalized by the suggestion that Ginny and Vivi might be a split personality.  Consider that their true names are Virginia and Vivian, which start with the same two letters.  Also, if Ginny has never married and so far shows no interest in any social life, she might be the "virgin" side, while Vivian, who is out in the world might be the "vivacious" side, (from the Latin vivere - to live).

 

I'm also puzzled by Ginny's pronouncement that she is a famous lepidopterist, and that her "name will be heard for many years to come".  And then says "I hope you don't think me immodest to imagine that those praises would now have spread around the world within the most highly regarded entomology circles".   This phrasing is more forward looking as if something has just recently happened that sets up her name to be circulated in the scientific community.  And so I wonder what it is that she (and/or Clive) have discovered or created.

 

I'm looking forward to learning more about Vivi and what she has been up to all these years.

Jane M.
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vivico1
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup


LizzieAnn wrote:
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.





Or, does Ginny have some mental defect that also shows physically and its a prejudice against Ginny. Or if she shows any kind of special needs, is there a prejudice there? There still is in many schools. Why the word prejudice.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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