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KxBurns
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Chapters 10 through 13

[ Edited ]

Okay – we'e going to try something a little different for this set of chapters.

 

I'll be posting all the chapters together so maybe we can shift our focus from the minute details to, hopefully, a better view of the bigger themes going on.

 

That said, I'm going to point you, as always, to specific things that I found noteworthy in each chapter.



Message Edited by KxBurns on 03-07-2008 12:33 PM
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KxBurns
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

Chapter 10: Bernard’s Challenge

-Bernard's challenge sets Clive up for either great success (finally making a big discovery) or great failure… How telling that he participates "against all rational judgment and time pressures" (p. 107).

-Ginny's characterization of the "mass execution of the local Brimstone population" is a bit frightening. Does her use of war terminology have any greater meaning beyond the fact that she and Clive are engaged in battle with Bernard?

-I feel such sympathy for Maud here and yet I don't feel that Ginny's guilt or Maud's treatment of her are warranted. Ginny describes Maud's descent in terms of "real Maud" losing sight of herself and "this Maud" taking over. What does this reveal about Ginny's perception of self?

 

Chapter 11: Arthur and the Cannibals

-how different Ginny's preparations for Vivi's arrival are in this chapter!…

-it is worth noting that Ginny views loyalty as centered around the house rather than around "the external bonds of love and friendship" (p. 115).

-what is your take on Vivi and Arthur's relationship? How do you think the rest of the family feels? Are they going to eat him alive, as the chapter's title suggests? :smileyhappy:

-Ginny has entered into a partnership with Maud, supposedly to spare her dignity – and yet we know that Maud died an undignified death. Ginny's methods are faulty here; but can you equate her role with the idea of parasitism or cannibalism brought up by the chapter's title?

 

Chapter 12: I Spy

-yikes! Ginny talks about her surveillance of Ginny throughout the house like it's a mousetrap (or a moth trap?...)! She also equates herself with Vera, in being part of the house.

-Ginny and Vivi finally discuss Maud's death and it comes as no surprise that Vivi seems to question Ginny's account. Is Vivi's skepticism really because she doesn't know about Maud's drinking and therefore doesn't grasp the likelihood of her falling down the stairs?

Ginny decides that it is "wouldn’t be fair to destroy her perceptions of the past" (p. 131) and I believe this sentiment will become central, regardless of which sister is deluded about what. As Vivi says, it comes down to "who is able to see things as they really are..." (p. 130). Is it right to hide the truth? Does it depend on one's assessment of whether the person is able to handle being disabused of their delusion?

Specifically, do we feel differently if it ends up being Vivi who has been deluded about her family, rather than Ginny being deluded about her family and herself?

 

Chapter 13: The Ridge Walk

-how does Clive not know about Maud???

-please discuss this statement by Ginny (it caps off the entire Fox Moth passage on pages 134-135, which I found fascinating!): "If you were born unaware, at least you'd be blissfully ignorant. It's not as if you're going to wake up one day and suddenly discover yourself."

-is Vivi's request a selfish one? I think it depends on what she knows about Ginny. Maybe we have magnified Ginny's oddness and how obvious it is to the world. One thing that is clear to me from this chapter is that Ginny thrives on the suffering of those around her. Feel free to disagree with this, but she feels "invigorated, revitalised and valuable" in the face of her sister's suffering! I know she's specifically talking about the expulsion when she uses those words, but she recalls it now.

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LizzieAnn
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

Chapter 10: Bernard’s Challenge
 
I know it's research, but the gathering of all those moths & what they do to them - gas the males, save the pregnant females, and squeezing the virgins for potion - just gave me the creeps.  Ginny herself calls it ". . . the mass execution of the local Brimstone population." - mothocide?  (page 110).  Again, more moth information than I needed.  Clive is also becoming odder and creepier to me.
 
I too feel sorry for Maud - she's lost and floundering.  Yet there is still enough fight/strength in her to lash out at Ginny's patronizing comment.  But the way she does lash out is a bit surprising.  There's a lot of suppressed rage in Maud. 
 
 
Chapter 11: Arthur and the Cannibals
 
First of all, the 2nd paragraph sent up a red flag to me.  The promise that Maud made Ginny make - that Ginny would "hit over over the head rather than let her die a death like Vera's.  She'd said, 'Ginny, I want to die quickly and with dignity.  I want you to remember that."   [page 114]
 
I thought it interesting that Ginny now considers Vivi a visitor, and no longer part of their home.  To me, a child is never a visitor within their parents's  home, particularly if it's the home they've been raised in.  But then again, Vivi is not Ginny's child....but still.  The line's been crossed - Vivi's one of them as opposed to one of us
 
Maud is deteriorating quickly.  The whole bit with Arthur & Ginny trying to shush her.  Then Ginny locking her in completely surprised me.  The anger Maud feels towards Ginny really erupts and violence is now a part of their relationship.  What's interesting is that Maud is still aware enough to stop & behave when she hears Clive approaching.  I'm not sure if it's because she doesn't want him to witness her like that or because she's afraid of what he might do. 
 
 
Chapter 12: I Spy
 
The conversation between Ginny & Vivien regarding Maud's death is very interesting.  Unfortunately, it's still all speculation and "she said - she said."  Both sides can be understood - Ginny feels that Vivien is questioning because she doesn't know of Maud's alcoholism ... and Vivien is suspicious because she feels Ginny doesn't see things as they really are or conveniently forgets things.  They each seem to have a version of "the truth" but I can't help but think that the real truth is an entirely different story.  I think both of them are being deluded to some extent - by each other and by themselves.
 
 
Chapter 13: The Ridge Walk
 
I too don't understand how Clive doesn't know what's going on with Maud.  Can he truly be that self-absorbed?  I've come to really dislike him. 
 
There were some interesting things revealed during the walk:
Ginny going off into a trance about the Fox Moth caterpillar
 
Vivien trying to bring her back (on page 135) - telling her "don't do that" and "Your absence thing."  Ginny denies the "absence thing" and that Vivien is exaggerating the time Ginny's "thinking" (her word).  It's obvious that Ginny must have had these blank-outs from when she was a child.  Perhaps that explains the conversation in the previous chapter about Maud's death and not seeing things as they are. 
 
Vivi's desire for a child is completely understandable.  Her emotions bubble up while Ginny is cold and scientific.  When Ginny tells Vivi that being unable to have children is just part of who she is and Vivien responds about not being born that way - that she lost the ability, I get the feeling that she's reproaching Ginny.  Perhaps for not saving her from falling?
 
I don't think Vivi's request is selfish - I think it arises from a strong need and desperation. 
 
Ginny's smugness and superiority are getting on my nerves, as well as the fact that she does seem to thrive on other people's misery.  She seems to use that suffering as a barometer for how much better a person she is.   "I was the stronger, self-sufficient sister"  [page 139]
 
 
-please discuss this statement by Ginny (it caps off the entire Fox Moth passage on pages 134-135, which I found fascinating!): "If you were born unaware, at least you'd be blissfully ignorant. It's not as if you're going to wake up one day and suddenly discover yourself."
I think this is symbolic of Ginny herself.  She's ignorant about herself is some way.  There's something she's locked away.  When & if it comes out, she may discover she's not the person she thinks she is.
 
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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KxBurns
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13



LizzieAnn wrote:
Chapter 13: The Ridge Walk
 
There were some interesting things revealed during the walk:
Ginny going off into a trance about the Fox Moth caterpillar
 
Vivien trying to bring her back (on page 135) - telling her "don't do that" and "Your absence thing."  Ginny denies the "absence thing" and that Vivien is exaggerating the time Ginny's "thinking" (her word).  It's obvious that Ginny must have had these blank-outs from when she was a child.  Perhaps that explains the conversation in the previous chapter about Maud's death and not seeing things as they are. 
 
Vivi's desire for a child is completely understandable.  Her emotions bubble up while Ginny is cold and scientific.  When Ginny tells Vivi that being unable to have children is just part of who she is and Vivien responds about not being born that way - that she lost the ability, I get the feeling that she's reproaching Ginny.  Perhaps for not saving her from falling?
 
I don't think Vivi's request is selfish - I think it arises from a strong need and desperation. 
 
Ginny's smugness and superiority are getting on my nerves, as well as the fact that she does seem to thrive on other people's misery.  She seems to use that suffering as a barometer for how much better a person she is.   "I was the stronger, self-sufficient sister"  [page 139]
I think this is symbolic of Ginny herself.  She's ignorant about herself is some way.  There's something she's locked away.  When & if it comes out, she may discover she's not the person she thinks she is.
 


I also think that Ginny's analysis of Vivi's character is totally suspect. She keeps painting Vivi as a drama queen who chooses to make life difficult for herself. But I get the impression that this is indicative of Ginny's inability to understand that Vivi is simply able to hold more complex views of the world than Ginny.
 
Ginny's need to preserve her singular view of her world leads her to delude herself and to view Vivi's ability to tolerate ambiguity or difficulty as weakness.
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

Clive doing this challenge against rational judgment, etc. seems to go right along with his personality and work style.  He seems to be so unpredictable that his reaction didn't surprise me.  I'm not sure that many of his decisions have been very rational up to this point.  Ginny refers to Clive's "unhealthy obsession with his work" but she willingly goes along with it.  Just another example of how this chaotic lifestyle is being perpetuated.
 
It was really sad when they realized they had totally ignored Maud for two days!  That did surprise me.  "Losing sight of herself" seems to be just what Ginny has done to herself, too, though so maybe it becomes inevitable that Ginny loses touch not only with herself but with those closest to her.  When Maud lets Ginny have it on page112 we don't know what Ginny thought.  The silence at the bottom of the page speaks loudly.
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

Does Clyde really not know about Maud's alcoholism or does he just choose to ignore it?  Even though Ginny thinks she is protecting Maud by covering up for her, I think he does know -- but to acknowledge the problem would mean to have to take some responsibility for it, and that would interfere with his work. 
 
What I find interesting is that Ginny truly believes that Vivien has no idea that Maud was an alcoholic... and she feels the need to continue to protect her sister from the truth after all these years.  Typical of a dysfunctional family that does not know how to communicate.  Does Ginny feel powerful that only she knew the truth about Maud?  Does she feel it connects her to Maud in a way that noone else can claim?  After all of these years, who is she protecting -- Maud or Vivien? 
 
I was not surprised by Vivien's request that Ginny have a baby for her... I sort of saw that one coming.  Is it selfish of Vivien to ask that of Ginny?  Absolutely, but as a Mother, I can certainly understand it.  However, I don't know that I would be able to make the request of a sister who was unmarried, never had a boyfriend  or child of her own. 
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MsMorninglight
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

Ch. 10:  Ugh, 25,000 moths they would have to gather and destroy for this competition?  Is it any wonder, Ginny doesn't seem to feel any emotion? 
 
Ch. 11:  Then Ginny suffering at the hands of her mother & her drinking.  Yes, I suppose one should feel sorry for Maud also, but Ginny appears to be the innocent here.  Maud could certainly do something about her drinking.  Poor Ginny can't. 
 
Ch. 12:  Mostly all I gleaned from this chapter, is how little the family communicated.  The lack of it seems to be their biggest downfall.
 
Ch. 13:  In this chapter, we see more and more that Ginny tended to live in her own little world.  But , still no real answers about any of it. 
 
I'm beginning to fear that I'm going to have the same frustration at the end of this book, as I do with many of the newer British authors.. They build up, build up & then leave so many things unanswered at the end of the book.  I hope this isn't the case here. 
 
 



"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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bookhunter
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

mnotto said:
 
"Does Ginny feel powerful that only she knew the truth about Maud?  Does she feel it connects her to Maud in a way that noone else can claim?  "
 
Building on what mnotto said...
Ginny has a problem with emotional intimacy.  I think she doesn't understand what it means.  So she feels like she has an intimacy with someone when she is part of their "plan."  She feels close to Clive because she shares his work as his apprentice.  She feels closest to Vivi when they were expelled from school together and when Vivi includes her in Vivi's desire to have a child.  She feels closest to Maud when she is keeping her secret.
 
Ginny doesn't really KNOW, much less UNDERSTAND these people and their motivations, but being included makes her feel close to them.
 
If Ginny does have some sort of disorder like Asperger's Syndrome or autism, do you think Vivi is taking advantage of Ginny by asking her to have this baby?  Could Ginny be capable of fully understanding what is being asked here?
 
Ann, bookhunter
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bookhunter
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

MsMorninglight said:
 
"Ch. 12:  Mostly all I gleaned from this chapter, is how little the family communicated.  The lack of it seems to be their biggest downfall.
 
Ch. 13:  In this chapter, we see more and more that Ginny tended to live in her own little world.  But , still no real answers about any of it. "
 
Ginny and Clive have their moths (tens of thousands of them!) but Maud is all alone since Vivi is gone.  She must be very lonely.  It seemed earlier in the story that she was a social butterfly :smileywink: having parties and going to church...I wonder why we don't see that happening any more? 
 
Instead of taking her lonliness and turning it toward something useful, she TOO is turning inward on herself and becoming obsessive--with alcohol.
 
Ann, bookhunter
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LizzieAnn
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

I think it does make Ginny feel powerful and superior.  I keep getting an underlying dialog from Ginny that she truly believes she is superior, better, smarter, more self-sufficient than others, particularly Maud & Vivi.  She has these period of self-boasting that I find irritating.
 


mnotto wrote:

What I find interesting is that Ginny truly believes that Vivien has no idea that Maud was an alcoholic... and she feels the need to continue to protect her sister from the truth after all these years.  Typical of a dysfunctional family that does not know how to communicate.  Does Ginny feel powerful that only she knew the truth about Maud?  Does she feel it connects her to Maud in a way that noone else can claim?  After all of these years, who is she protecting -- Maud or Vivien? 



Liz ♥ ♥


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LizzieAnn
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

Good point!


KxBurns wrote:

I also think that Ginny's analysis of Vivi's character is totally suspect. She keeps painting Vivi as a drama queen who chooses to make life difficult for herself. But I get the impression that this is indicative of Ginny's inability to understand that Vivi is simply able to hold more complex views of the world than Ginny.

Ginny's need to preserve her singular view of her world leads her to delude herself and to view Vivi's ability to tolerate ambiguity or difficulty as weakness.



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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no4daughter
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

I like the new format of grouping the chapters together.  I think it will be easier to keep up with and participate in new posts. 
 
I was intrigued when, after Maud was found in the library after 2 days, she says:  "I really don't give a damn if you haven't discovered the divine secret of moths.  I never have.  Just don't tell Daddy that".  Secrets, secrets and more secrets which can't lead to anything good.
 
Ginny sure has a lot on her shoulders.  When she says ". . .was protecting everyone from everyone else, and some of them also from themselves" I finally had some sympathy for her character.  Too bad she doesn't feel like she can let Vivien in a little bit.  Maybe Vivi could have pulled the family back together.        
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LisaMM
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

I saw the baby request coming. I think all the talk about how "it was the virgins we particularly prized" and "we hung the scent of virgins all over the grounds" and "males will seek it out from up to 5 miles away" and how the scent was "the most powerful aphrodisiac known to nature". Maybe this is all symbolism (a bit heavy handed).

My guess, having read no further as of yet, is that Ginny will agree to have Vivi and Arthur's baby, but Arthur and Ginny will betray Vivi by falling in love. Just a guess. A betrayal like that could explain the almost 50 year separation between the sisters.

Doesn't it seem, in reading about their younger years, that Ginny is more normal than we originally thought?
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dhaupt
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

10 - I thought it quite like Clive to take up the gauntlet w/the challenge, against all odds.
I found this chapter quite boring and talking about the Brimstone moth put me to sleep.

I felt sorry for Maud too because she seems so isolated in her own home, but what did she do before this to keep from drinking or did she always drink all the time and we're just now being exposed to it because Ginny is old enough to recognize what the problem is. I don't think Ginny should feel responsible for her mother but I've heard other accounts of children of alcoholics where they feel responsible so I guess it's par.I can see how perhaps the residents could miss Maud's illness especially when they don't see her for days.

11- Ginny did become a cleaning maniac getting ready for Vivi's visit. I liked Arthur and it seemed like Vivi genuinely did too. I thought maybe they would eat him alive but Clive seemed to get along with him maybe because Arthur seemed to be interested in his work. I wonder what Ginny meant by Vivi was always finding obstacles. I also find it strange that Clive is absent during all this w/Maud drinking I know that he's a mad scientist but don't they share a bedroom or anything?
I think that Maud turning violent doesn't really surprise me, but Ginny's feeling responsible does a little, why doesn't she blame Clive or Vivi for that matter.

12 - Very smooth move of the author from the past to the present I like her transitions.
Ginny's spying on Vivi is getting kind of old and I wonder if Vivi has any idea.
I think that Vivi's reaction is because she doesn't know about Maud's drinking, she obviously didn't visit very often and when she did it only seemed to be for a short time.
Even alcoholics can go without a drink for a short time. I think that Ginny felt that she was the stable one and Vivi needed to be sheltered, that's why I think she felt she had to hide the truth from her.

13 - I mentioned that above I can't see Clive not knowing, doesn't he care I mean don't they share a bedroom or something.
I definitely think that Vivi's request was selfish I mean we're not talking about artificial insemination so does she want Ginny to sleep w/Arthur I'm assuming it's Arthur.
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pheath
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

Chapter 10: Bernard's Challenge

I think the "mass execution" is something that Ginny and Clive obviously don't give a second thought to. The moths multitude of moths that they need are simply fulfilling the predetermined mechanical destiny in the greater machinery of the world. I could not see Maud or Vivi approaching the matter from this mindset. I think it emphasizes the dichotomy in the family which in turn leads to the neglect of Maud. Maud's alcoholism is understandable as a means of filling the void that she has with Vivi out of the house.

Chapter 11: Arthur and the Cannibals

I think that Maud is the only one in the family capable of taking an interest in Arthur and Vivi's relationship. Ginny and Clive are more likely to shrug and consider it a fact of life.

The "partnership" between Ginny and Maud is something that Ginny seems to do with good intentions. It seems like a leap to me to equate this to a parasitic relationship where she is trying to take advantage of Maud.

Chapter 12: I Spy

Is it right to hide the truth?

I don't think this has a simple yes/no answer. Many times it is necessary to hide the truth from children because they are not equipped to deal with it either because they can't understand it or are not ready to deal with the emotions of a situation.

In general, this is a judgment call that people have to make based on their conscience and the situation at hand. Have you ever delayed the truth so that a particular moment is not ruined, e.g. Birthday, Christmas, etc.?

Chapter 13: The Ridge Walk

Does a lack of acknowledgment imply a lack of knowledge? All we know for certain is that Clive does not address the issue of Maud's drinking.
-Philip
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LisaMM
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13



dhaupt wrote:
10 - I thought it quite like Clive to take up the gauntlet w/the challenge, against all odds.
I found this chapter quite boring and talking about the Brimstone moth put me to sleep.

I felt sorry for Maud too because she seems so isolated in her own home, but what did she do before this to keep from drinking or did she always drink all the time and we're just now being exposed to it because Ginny is old enough to recognize what the problem is.

The girls were away at school for a number of years and only came home on holiday so it was probably pretty easy for Maud to hide her drinking from them.
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carriele
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

After reading these latest chapters, I keep having one pressing thought.  To me, the Ginny of youth doesn't seem the same as the Ginny of today.  I'm not sure I can explain exactly what I mean but I'll give it a go.  Throughout earlier discussions online, there has been considerable speculation that Ginny has some sort of mental deficit/disorder.  In the chapters when she discusses her youth, she seems more together, if you will.  She has the frame of mind to properly prepare the house for Vivi's arrival; she is in cahoots with Maud on how to disguise Maud's alcoholism; she even locks Maud in the library when she is drunk in an effort to prevent problems.  In her work with Clive, she seems knowledgeable and bright.  She understands the scientific terms well and can articulate the processes that occur in great detail.  Finally, her relationship with Vivi seems different.  In these chapters, I got the sense that Ginny is looking out for Vivi's well-being more than the other way around.  Yet, in the present day, Ginny doesn't seem to be able to get her points across as clearly and she seems easily frustrated.  I recognize time changes people but I am just having some difficulty meshing the fact that the young and old Ginny are the same person.
 
Carrie E. 
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ladytoad
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

Some thoughts:
 
Chapter 10:
I know they are moths, but I found it difficult to stomach that Ginny and Clive were planning to lure and/or breed 25,000 moths just so they could kill them, and I agree with Karen that the images are very reminiscent of Nazi war crimes during WWII. Also, Ginny says Clive devises an "ambitious plan. First, we needed virgins." And, she says they are "squeezing the virgins for more potion." It sounds to me like they are being used, and considering now what we know about Vivi's request in Chapter 13, this is interesting.
 
Chapter 11:
I can't believe that Clive does not know what is going on with Maud. It's not uncommon for people with an addiction to think they can hide it, so Maud may think he doesn't know, but that doesn't explain why Ginny would also believe he doesn't know. I also find it strange that Ginny considers it part of her duty to give Maud so much alcohol when she can't take the withdrawal anymore. It might be one thing to give her a drink to get her through the withdrawal, but why keep giving her so much that she moves from her lucid phase to her violent phase? Why not give her enough to get her lucid and then stop before the nasty phase sets in?
 
Chapter 12:
I'm not clear how Ginny has been able to spy on Vivian when she says she's been lying on her bed all morning. She describes moving around to the windows and listening to the house, but she's hardly been out of bed.
 
Chapter 13:
"I like winter. I like its contradictions: cold but cozy, sparse but beautiful, lifeless but not soulless." This line from page 132 makes me think of the moths again. It's cold outside, but cozy inside the cocoon. The moths are sparse, but they can be beautiful when seen in the right light. And even in hibernation, when they are not showing signs of life, they still have a soul (unless you agree with Clive's version of science from Chapter 8. Also, I find Ginny's comparison to life inside the house to be interesting. Inside, she says, "it was worse--soulless but not lifeless."
 
Maybe it's because I look forward to reading the postings and participating in the discussion, but I am enjoying the book, and getting more and more intrigued.
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psujulie
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

Does anyone think that Ginny's blanking our episodes might be why she is so obsessed with time? On page 4, she says "Every mintute lost -- if left uncorrected -- would soon accumulate to an hour, and then hours, until -- as you can imagine -- you could easily end up living in a completely erroneous time frame.
 
I think Ginny definitely has the need to feel important. It almost seems as if she is "proving" that she is needed by helping Maud, cleaning the house, assisting Clive with the moths, etc. Many times throughout this book she's specifically mentioned how much Vivien needs her. I would imagine that Vivien's request for Ginny to have a baby for her is the ultimate case of Ginny feeling needed.
 
The main theme of these chapters for me is summed up on page 130 when Vivien says, "I think that depends on who is able to see things as they really are." There are further references to this theme in Chapter 13 when Ginny is talking about the moth. "If you were born unaware, at least you'd be blissfully ignorant. It's not as if you're going to wake up one day and suddenly discover yourself." I am still confused at this point about how much Ginny is actually seeing/interpreting things that are going on in her life -- I'm back to questioning the accuracy of the first person narrative.
 
One other theme that seems to keep popping up is directly tied to the moths. Throughout the past few chapters, we keep hearing that moths are totally instinctual creatures -- they have no ability to choose or think! I'm wondering how much of what's happening (or going to happen) to the characters in this book might be explained by "not having a choice or feeling like they had to do something."
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Thayer
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

I was struck during these chapters by how much of an enabler to Maud's alcoholism Ginny truly has become. She describes herself as an "accomplice" to Maud and as "standing guard between her and the outside world, protecting her against giving herself away." Does she realize how much damage she is inflicting? I also found it alarming when she says she "coveted the intimacy of the secret."
~~Dawn
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