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vivico1
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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??



I am with the person who said, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, for the chapter titles! I love books with chapter titles, Especially if I want to go back and find something in the book, or like for a discussion. I hate trying to remember what chapter NUMBER, the story of this or that was in, especially if its a long book. I am so glad in the last ARC, they decided to change the words at the top of each page from the name of the book, (We really do know that already) to the name of the chapter your in. I think that was awesome of them to do that. As for "foreshadowing", I think we over use the term in here. And for chapter titles, when you are reading a book just for enjoyment, do you really (meaning any of us) really look at the chapter title long and wonder - ohhh I wonder what that means and ponder it, or rather use it to find where you are and more than as a foreshadowing. When you are through or past that chapter its good as an indicator of what was just in it that you read and can now use to find your place again. Once you read a chapter, when you can really make a major connection between the chapter title and what is in it, especially if its a bit obscure, then I think the author did a good job at naming the chapters too. I do agree tho that sometimes titles are a bit childish, but I prefer them always, to none.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Jaelin
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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?

 

Once again, we see Ginny as a passive participant in her own life, with her career being chosen for her by Maud: “From that day on everyone seemed to know that that’s what I was going to do. Maud, having said it, had cast the future in stone” (p. 51). Curiously, Ginny is aware of her own passivity, but views it in a more positive light; she thinks her fate unfolded as it was meant to, and she simply did not need to make any decisions (see the last paragraph on page 53). What do you make of this interpretation?

 

I thought the whole issue of Vivi’s expulsion was really unclear and it left me thinking that Ginny is not privy to the truth of the situation.

 

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

The monster caterpillar was interesting since most parents like to "shield" there children from the bad things in life, which is a good idea most of the time, and that Clive actually told her to watch and see what happens was kind of refreshing.  That Ginny took the time to actually watch the caterpillar at that age tells me that she was capable of lots and lots of patience.  That she was both interested and disgusted tells me that she was capable of seeing the world with feelings. 
 
This is almost a precursor, and maybe why Maud states "This one?  She's going to follow in her father's footsteps."  as well as "From that day on everyone seemed to know that that's what I was going to Do.  Maud, having said it, had cast the future in stone" Ginny knew what she was going to do.  Ginny seems passive in her own life since she already knew that she would be doing just what Maud said she would be doing.  That what everyone takes as passivity may instead just be the acceptance that others have heard what she herself already knew to be the case.
 
Ginny may not have know the full facts about Vivi's expulsion though it may have been kept secret since stealing banana's many not have been the real reason she was expelled.
 
It is interesting to see that Clive was not looking for perfect specimens.  To see what is wrong with something is almost as important as seeing what is right with it.  To see the surface as perfect doesn't mean that the whole thing is perfect.  This is something that made me wonder about Clive and that since he could see the imperfections with the perfections did he see people in the same way?  Did Ginny?  Was this why the two of them seemed to fit where Vivi and Maud were put together? 
 

 
Jessee
That is a good book which is opened with expectation and closed in profit.
~ Amos Bronson Alcott ~
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup


Vivico1 wrote:
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

 

 

I believe that she does too.  On page 53  It talks about Clive and how Ginny looks at him The last paragraph states "There was a fundamental difference between the way that collectors and Clive (and those like myself who came after him) studies these insects.  Collectors have one goal in common: they are looking for the perfect unadulterated specimen, with flawless markings and anatomical composition.  An insect with an aberration, say a spot too few or a spot too many or any other imperfection or handicap would be discarded at once."

I believe the author goes into such detail with this because Ginny has a handicap.  After her birth Clive buried himself into research to understand it.  He is fascinated to know why things work and how they go wrong.  He has affection for Ginny (kisses her forehead after Vivi falls), he teaches her about moths.  Maude is a collector as is Vivi and the school and the society circle in which Maude associated with.  Ginny is treated with politeness and excessive accolades to make her feel special. I believe she is told not only to convince her, but the person who is saying it need to be convinced as well and speaking it out loud will make it so.  She is discarded by the school once Vivi is expelled - the "package deal"  Maude is outraged because one of her children was told she was a package deal  (which I would have been too) but I believe Maude is more upset with the perception that her family is not normal.  

 

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nmccarthy
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Re: Chapter 5: Lepidoptery


I'm with you on chapter titles Vivian. I also appreciate a Table of Contents (TOC);  I don't know if publishers are trying to save paper to keep the cost of the book down, but a (TOC) is helpful for searching previous passages or keeping track of where you're at in a story.

I am with the person who said, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, for the chapter titles! I love books with chapter titles, Especially if I want to go back and find something in the book, or like for a discussion. I hate trying to remember what chapter NUMBER, the story of this or that was in, especially if its a long book. I am so glad in the last ARC, they decided to change the words at the top of each page from the name of the book, (We really do know that already) to the name of the chapter your in. I think that was awesome of them to do that. As for "foreshadowing", I think we over use the term in here. And for chapter titles, when you are reading a book just for enjoyment, do you really (meaning any of us) really look at the chapter title long and wonder - ohhh I wonder what that means and ponder it, or rather use it to find where you are and more than as a foreshadowing. When you are through or past that chapter its good as an indicator of what was just in it that you read and can now use to find your place again. Once you read a chapter, when you can really make a major connection between the chapter title and what is in it, especially if its a bit obscure, then I think the author did a good job at naming the chapters too. I do agree tho that sometimes titles are a bit childish, but I prefer them always, to none.
 

Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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swamplover
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Re: Chapter 5: Moths -- p. 54



GMorrison wrote:



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.



Exactly.  The equation has no real scientific significance.  It's just an example of how one might write an equation (if it were actually possible) of indivudual parts that would equal "moth." Although DNA is pretty much like that - a very, very, long equation.
 
 For those bothered by the caterpillar incident, note that predation of the pupal or larval stage is extremely common in the insect world.  And while I have never actually seen the insects emerge (drat!), I have seen the end product of predation in a Black Swallowtail Butterfly chrysalis, for instance.  It's a very clever adaptation to ensure survival of the next generation. I often called my children in when they were young  to observe some phase of metamorphosis (the formation of the chrysalis is truly amazing even after you have watched it a hundred times) and would certainly not have hesitated to point out the caterpillar event if I chanced to see it happening.  Lots of things in the natural world seem strange, weird, horrific or disgusting - until you realize that they are, in fact, well . . . natural.
 

 
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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?? 


To tell you the truth, when I first saw the chapter titles I thought, Mmmmmm, they sound so Beatlesque.  For instance chapters such as, Belinda's Pot, Vivien's Day Out and PC Bolt and Inspector Piggott sound like songs off the Sgt. Pepper album. :smileywink:
Lynda

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DSaff
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Re: Chapter 5: Lepidoptery



vivico1 wrote:
I am with the person who said, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, for the chapter titles! I love books with chapter titles, Especially if I want to go back and find something in the book, or like for a discussion. I hate trying to remember what chapter NUMBER, the story of this or that was in, especially if its a long book. I am so glad in the last ARC, they decided to change the words at the top of each page from the name of the book, (We really do know that already) to the name of the chapter your in. I think that was awesome of them to do that. As for "foreshadowing", I think we over use the term in here. And for chapter titles, when you are reading a book just for enjoyment, do you really (meaning any of us) really look at the chapter title long and wonder - ohhh I wonder what that means and ponder it, or rather use it to find where you are and more than as a foreshadowing. When you are through or past that chapter its good as an indicator of what was just in it that you read and can now use to find your place again. Once you read a chapter, when you can really make a major connection between the chapter title and what is in it, especially if its a bit obscure, then I think the author did a good job at naming the chapters too. I do agree tho that sometimes titles are a bit childish, but I prefer them always, to none.


I love the chapter titles too. Not only do they jog my memory as to where something specific can be found, but they also give that tiny glimpse into the words to follow. I love a book that calls me forward into the chapters, into the thoughts of the author.
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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KxBurns
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Re: Chapter 5: Lepidoptery



ELee wrote:


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.


Exactly!
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KxBurns
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup



GMorrison wrote:
I'm very intrigued by Ginny's positive evaluation of her own passivity on page 52 versus her patronizing (if not outright negative) evaluation of the passivity of moths which directly follows on pgs. 54-5. Ginny has "never resisted anything that life's thrown at [her] or even thought to steer it in a particular direction," and credits this as the key to her success. Yet "a moth will direct itself towards [a] scent, evin if...in doing so it goes headlong into a wall and kills itself." These two behaviors don't strike me as qualitatively different; I wonder if Ginny isn't as helplessly dependent on her situation as moths are on theirs.

I think the parallels between Ginny and the moth that you point out -- but that Ginny herself misses -- may turn out to be the crux of this story. In describing the passivity of moths, Ginny also says that a moth: will always react to a given stimulus "in a predictable and replicable way," is "unable to learn from experience," and exhibits such consistent behavior that "you do not need to factor in a rogue element of individuality."
 
Could these traits come into play with regard to Ginny's behavior later in the book, or will her humanity and the emotion that undoubtedly runs beneath the surface make her actions and her fate less predictable?
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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??

I agree - when I read that, I immediately suspected that she has an inflated sense of her own importance. I'm really curious to see if she is the legend in her field she believes herself to be!
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KxBurns
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup



ELee wrote:


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.
 


What a contradiction! And it appears to be another case of Ginny's selective attention because we know that she did actually keep all of the moth paraphernalia. What she got rid of from the house was the personal effects of her family, which was Maud's family.
 
What do you think accounts for the difference in her attitude toward her own (and Clive's?) professional accomplishments and personal artifacts?
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KxBurns
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Re: Narrative Time in Chapters 1-5



krb2g wrote:
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.

My guess is that as the book continues, we're going to start seeing past and present converge -- in that we will be able to understand better what happened in the past, in a way that will probably heighten the tension about what might be still to come. If this is the way it turns out, I think such a narrative structure would be pretty successful.
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup


Everyman wrote:


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.




But we don't know that she hasn't been out in the world...we just know that she is a recluse at this point in her life...the author leaves us to wonder if Ginny did actually follow in her father's footsteps and become well recognized for her work...actually we don't know that her father was famous, do we? We don't know anything except how he acted at home. Intriguing family....
Betty

"Tell me what you read and I'll tell you who you are" is true enough, but I'd know you better if you told me what you reread. ~François Mauriac
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup



COCOSPALS wrote:
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



I can agree with that also!
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup



vivico1 wrote:

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.


Yes, Vivian that does stand to reason. She was wrapped like a cocoon in the only baby picture and something was mentioned about her mouth so maybe she did have a deformity that was noticeable.
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

Is it possible that Ginny is being eaten from the inside out by something since she is the one that found the caterpillar and is fascinated by what happens?? It was a rather interesting description of the event though I found the end result to be quite disturbing.
It interested me to see that Maud spoke up for Ginny when Mrs. Jefferson asked her what she was going to be when she grew up. Not only did Maud speak up for her but was in a hurry to do so as evidenced by the following: "I was still studying the delicate frosted rim of the glass dish, searching for my answer, when Maud cut across me..." It's almost like Maud is afraid of Ginny making decisions for herself or is protecting her from saying something that will reflect badly on their family or reveal what she is trying to hide about Ginny.

The fact that Maud didn't get mad at Vivien for stealing the fruit just gives me more belief that Vivien is the "favorite" while Ginny is just sort of there. I do think that if it had been Ginny who stole the fruit there would have been a total different reaction and Maud would have been angry at Ginny. I am starting to wonder if Maud doesn't see Vivien as possibly following in her own footsteps while Ginny she doesn't believe can be successful in that aspect so she encourages her to follow in her father's footsteps that doesn't require those kind of social graces.
These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves. From each of them goes out its own voice... and just as the touch of a button on our set will fill the room with music, so by taking down one of these volumes and opening it, one can call into range the voice of a man far distant in time and space, and hear him speaking to us, mind to mind, heart to heart. ~Gilbert Highet
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

Karen, the thing that struck me the most about this chapter was learning that one the girls got kicked out of school and learning that Ginny was only there because Vivi was there (p. 51)...why did they have to go as a "package" deal? Why would Maud put Ginny in a situation where she could get hurt or ridiculed, especially knowing the kind of child she was, (if we agree that she has some sort of mental illness)? It didn't surprise me that Vivi would find her own path while away either...Ginny recognized that Vivi didn't need her protection, but was Vivi there to protect Ginny?
 
I like how she sprung on us the fact that she became a well-know lepidopterist...that is quite a feat for someone who isolates herself from others...how did she manage the "fame"? Did she venture out of her home and do speaking engagements? Did she become more social as a result of her stature in society? I also thought it was interesting that she suggests that even after she is gone, her name will still be on the tongues of many, but Vivi, the one who was supposed to make something of herself will not be remembered like her...
 
Did anyone wonder what drove Clive to study how nature worked? Could it have something to do with Ginny?  Ginny mentions how he was not interested in finding the perfect species, but rather, was more intrigued by nature's imperfections...why would this intrigue him so much? Was he trying to figure out what went wrong with Ginny/Vivi?
 
I loved the following lines on page 54...
 
 
"...it was nature's imperfections that we needed to study to discover the secret codes of inheritance and genetics and other biological mechanisms."
 
"If you could work out, he said, how they'd gone wrong, you'd discover a lot more about how nature worked?"
 
Ginny's description of moths on page 55 was very eye-opening as well...she said that "A moth is a simple machine in the animal world...Moths have a universal character: there are no individuals...Each reacts to a precise condition or stimulus in a predictable or replicable way. They are preprogrammed robots, unable to learn from experience."
 
I thought that this explanation described Ginny's character...she follows a prescribed behavior whenever Vivi is around, falling back into the pattern of showing no emotions and being a follower rather than a leader...to go further with this idea, I would say that she sees herself as a simple person, like the moth, and what you see is what you get on the outside, but on the inside there is so much going on, but she never expresses this side of herself...if she did, it would make her complex...wouldn't it? more like a butterfly (Vivi) rather than the moth...
 
 
Peace and love,
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blkeyesuzi
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Re: Chapter 5: Moths -- p. 54



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. 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.





The formula wasn't meant to be a real algebraic formula. It was used as a device to explain in simple terms what Ginny's father was hoping to accomplish... i.e. He wanted to define the common and most basic elements of a moth.
Suzi

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

Caitlin wrote: "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, if you looked at the idea of the "bug" being symbolic of each sister, would it change the way you looked at the explanation? Reread that section, thinking about each sister and which "bug" would represent her and see if your perspective changes...is the author just educating us about bugs, or is this process a metaphor for Ginny and Vivi, how they work...which one is imperfect? Is he studying one, so that he can figure out the other?
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Registered: ‎02-05-2008
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Re: Chapter 5: The Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup

I also found the caterpillar story horrifying but, I believe it helps define Clive's relationship with Ginny. To me Clive is a little scary, like mad scientist who forgets anything but his work. The whole soup thing has me rethinking eating soup anymore (that will stay with me for a while) 
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