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KxBurns
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Characters

[ Edited ]

It's a little tricky to discuss the characters in the book since we see everyone through our narrator's very skewed point of view. However, Ginny's more lucid memories (which often contradict her own statements) seem to provide a clearer depiction of Vivi, Maud, and Clive than her words. And Vivi's more reliable depictions of her parents and sister also add to our understanding of them.

In your opinion, what moments provide particular insight into the four main characters (or five – feel free to include Arthur!)? What makes them tick and what are their individual – and shared – demons? What about their strengths? Did you find one character more sympathetic than the others?



Message Edited by KxBurns on 03-19-2008 06:22 PM
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bentley
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Regarding Ginny

Regarding Ginny:

The weekend that Vivien came home seems unreal now. I'd still like to know why she came, and the other thing I'll never understand is why, throughout our lives, I'm the only one of my family who managed to pull through unscathed. It's unnerving. I've had to watch the lot of them first despair and then die. I tried my hardest to help them, to hold them together, but the harder I tried the more they fell apart until, in the end, each one seemed to find their own way to self destruct."

I think the above quote says it all. Ginny is quite delusional and an unfit narrator. As you stated, her more lucid memories even contradicted her own statements. Since Ginny was the only narrator; the reader has to wonder what if anything was real or accurate. How she helped any of the members of her family escaped me. In the end, she turned out also to be quite a cold hearted killer.
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bookhunter
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Re: Regarding Ginny



bentley wrote:
Regarding Ginny:

The weekend that Vivien came home seems unreal now. I'd still like to know why she came, and the other thing I'll never understand is why, throughout our lives, I'm the only one of my family who managed to pull through unscathed. It's unnerving. I've had to watch the lot of them first despair and then die. I tried my hardest to help them, to hold them together, but the harder I tried the more they fell apart until, in the end, each one seemed to find their own way to self destruct."

I think the above quote says it all. Ginny is quite delusional and an unfit narrator. As you stated, her more lucid memories even contradicted her own statements. Since Ginny was the only narrator; the reader has to wonder what if anything was real or accurate. How she helped any of the members of her family escaped me. In the end, she turned out also to be quite a cold hearted killer.


Loved this quote.  She sees herself as helping Clive with his research and by visiting him in the Home, but he self destructed by descending into dementia.  Ginny protected Maud's alcoholism, and Maud ended up falling down the stairs drunk (in Ginny's view).
 
But how does Ginny think she has helped Vivi and how did Vivi self destruct?  I guess she thinks she protected Vivi from the truth of knowing that her mother was a drunk.  And she helped by having a baby for Vivi.  (answering my own question as I go along, here!)
 
But how can Ginny reason that Vivi self destructed, do you think?
 
Ann, bookhunter
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bentley
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Re: Regarding Ginny


bookhunter wrote:


bentley wrote:
Regarding Ginny:

The weekend that Vivien came home seems unreal now. I'd still like to know why she came, and the other thing I'll never understand is why, throughout our lives, I'm the only one of my family who managed to pull through unscathed. It's unnerving. I've had to watch the lot of them first despair and then die. I tried my hardest to help them, to hold them together, but the harder I tried the more they fell apart until, in the end, each one seemed to find their own way to self destruct."

I think the above quote says it all. Ginny is quite delusional and an unfit narrator. As you stated, her more lucid memories even contradicted her own statements. Since Ginny was the only narrator; the reader has to wonder what if anything was real or accurate. How she helped any of the members of her family escaped me. In the end, she turned out also to be quite a cold hearted killer.


Loved this quote.  She sees herself as helping Clive with his research and by visiting him in the Home, but he self destructed by descending into dementia.  Ginny protected Maud's alcoholism, and Maud ended up falling down the stairs drunk (in Ginny's view).
 
But how does Ginny think she has helped Vivi and how did Vivi self destruct?  I guess she thinks she protected Vivi from the truth of knowing that her mother was a drunk.  And she helped by having a baby for Vivi.  (answering my own question as I go along, here!)
 
But how can Ginny reason that Vivi self destructed, do you think?
 
Ann, bookhunter





I never understood her not visiting Clive more often before he died. And yes, I thought this quote was a powerful one in understanding her disconnect from reality. I just could not connect the dots in this novel. How did Vivian fit into this description. I was stymied. The Ginny logic established a disconnect in the reader's mind as well. We could all come up with reasonable explanations for every event in the novel. I guess a movie would solve some things because you would see the action; but in a book all you have are the characters or in this case the narrator/narration.

It is an interesting puzzle. I do not think that Vivian self-destructed; I think she very much knew what she was up to.
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DSaff
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Re: Regarding Ginny



bentley wrote:
Regarding Ginny:

The weekend that Vivien came home seems unreal now. I'd still like to know why she came, and the other thing I'll never understand is why, throughout our lives, I'm the only one of my family who managed to pull through unscathed. It's unnerving. I've had to watch the lot of them first despair and then die. I tried my hardest to help them, to hold them together, but the harder I tried the more they fell apart until, in the end, each one seemed to find their own way to self destruct."

I think the above quote says it all. Ginny is quite delusional and an unfit narrator. As you stated, her more lucid memories even contradicted her own statements. Since Ginny was the only narrator; the reader has to wonder what if anything was real or accurate. How she helped any of the members of her family escaped me. In the end, she turned out also to be quite a cold hearted killer.

I also thought this quote fit Ginny's delusions. She "helped" Clive by learning to be his apprentice, by engaging in his life's passion. She "helped" Maud by covering up the drinking, by allowing herself to be beaten up (preventing others from finding out), by being there to love her mother when it was over. I'm not sure how she helped Vivien unless she thought that by going along with her plans, keeping her secrets, and "letting" her come home without a word were ways to help. None of these were healthy, and only served to send Ginny further into her own world. In the end, that world allowed her to escape the harsh reality and conscious acknowledgement of killing her sister.

 
DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
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dhaupt
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Re: Characters

My insight into Clive happened when he was taking the girls to school in the back of the car with all the chemicals and I knew where his priorities lay.
Into Maud it was when Clive and Ginny first found her in the house after not seeing her for two days, before that she wasn't much in my mind. And after that I realized what a lonely person she was.
For Ginny it was in the first chapter when she was spying on Vivi and and the obsession with time and I knew that we were in for a roller coster ride with an individual who didn't quite make it out of her cocoon in one piece.
With Vivi she was really harder to read and there wasn't one defining moment for her I got to know her more the more I read.
And Arthur it was when he and Ginny buried their child and I wondered if he didn't think that he picked the wrong sister, and I wondered how Ginny's life would have differed if she had someone in her life like Arthur. But then I think again this is an individual who in order to procreate did the dirty with his wife's sister.
So then I think again I don't know anything.
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KxBurns
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Re: Regarding Ginny



bookhunter wrote:


bentley wrote:
Regarding Ginny:

The weekend that Vivien came home seems unreal now. I'd still like to know why she came, and the other thing I'll never understand is why, throughout our lives, I'm the only one of my family who managed to pull through unscathed. It's unnerving. I've had to watch the lot of them first despair and then die. I tried my hardest to help them, to hold them together, but the harder I tried the more they fell apart until, in the end, each one seemed to find their own way to self destruct."

I think the above quote says it all. Ginny is quite delusional and an unfit narrator. As you stated, her more lucid memories even contradicted her own statements. Since Ginny was the only narrator; the reader has to wonder what if anything was real or accurate. How she helped any of the members of her family escaped me. In the end, she turned out also to be quite a cold hearted killer.


Loved this quote.  She sees herself as helping Clive with his research and by visiting him in the Home, but he self destructed by descending into dementia.  Ginny protected Maud's alcoholism, and Maud ended up falling down the stairs drunk (in Ginny's view).
 
But how does Ginny think she has helped Vivi and how did Vivi self destruct?  I guess she thinks she protected Vivi from the truth of knowing that her mother was a drunk.  And she helped by having a baby for Vivi.  (answering my own question as I go along, here!)
 
But how can Ginny reason that Vivi self destructed, do you think?
 
Ann, bookhunter


I think Ginny believes that her killing of Vivien was brought on by Vivien herself. In Ginny's mind, Vivien's disabusing her of her delusions about Maud/Clive left Ginny no choice but to kill her, and was thus a self-destructive move for Vivi. Seems like a crazy way of looking at it to us, but it makes sense as "Ginny logic"  :smileyhappy:
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kbbg42
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Re: Regarding Ginny

In my mind they were all sad and lonely people unable to connect or understand each other. I truly believe that Clive did love Maude, but he was so engrossed in his work that he neglected her horribly. He was a work aholic. Maude left all alone turned to the bottle, how many wives of workaholics have done that?(Just check out Liftime movies for the answer!) Vivien feeling caged in the house, wanting to go out and experiance life. To not be responsible for her sister. Ginny, so cocooned at home that she fears the outside world. To make it all worse none of them knew how to communicate thier needs and wants to each other. It was all so very sad.
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maryfrancesa
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Re: Characters

I guess I can agree with what you wrote.  From the first I never really liked VI.  She seemed to have motives for evertything she did and used people to get what she wanted.  Ginny to leave home and go to London.  Ginny to have her baby.  Goming home after 50 yrs and not really talking with Ginny but going over the hosue and searching for something.  I believe that she must have heard from someone how bad Ginny was and that is one reason why she came home.
I do agree that as time went on with the baby making Ginny and Arthur were coming close.  You do see in these pages that Ginny lead a sheltered life and could not relate to others.  I wonder what the world thought of Ginny having a baby out of wedlock.  Being pregnant is not something that could be hidden in a small town.  I believe that Maud started on her downfall after Ginny started woring with Clive and then once she realized that Ginny and Arthur were having an "affair" became more self destructive.
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Re: Characters



KxBurns wrote:

In your opinion, what moments provide particular insight into the four main characters (or five – feel free to include Arthur!)? What makes them tick and what are their individual – and shared – demons? What about their strengths? Did you find one character more sympathetic than the others?

Message Edited by KxBurns on 03-19-2008 06:22 PM

I think a telling moment for understanding Ginny was in Chapter 2, when she discusses her relationship with Ginny. It sets the stage for the rest of the story.
 
"Vivien was from a fantastic world, definitely not the same one as mine. I thought when God made Vivi he was giving me a window to see the world in a different way." They had a wonderful, close relationship when they were younger and Vivi provided the ying to Ginny's yang. 
 
Ginny distinctly remembers her feelings when she thought Vivi had died in the Bell Tower fall,"I felt my own future reduced to a dead and eventless vacuum, a mere biological process."
 
Ginny was not encouraged to develop friends other than Vivi. She should have been sent to a local school, where she could have engaged with classmates during the day, and come home in the evening to her parents. They could have served as a sounding board for her and actively searched for children that would understand and enjoy Ginny's company. Sending a child of her introspection to a boarding school where individual attention is not necessarily provided, was a mistake.
 
Once Vivi left, Ginny's world became smaller; her focus was totally on moths and not on the outside world. She needed relationships to keep her grounded. Her time with Arthur was very touching; she opened up with him and seemed to feel understood. How sad she didn't have more companionship.
 
I suppose I sympathize with Ginny the most, only because she lacked the resources we have now a days to help her adapt to the wider world. (Have a conference call now, otherwise, I'd end more succinctly.)
Nancy
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KxBurns
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Re: Characters



nmccarthy wrote:

I think a telling moment for understanding Ginny was in Chapter 2, when she discusses her relationship with Ginny. It sets the stage for the rest of the story.
 
"Vivien was from a fantastic world, definitely not the same one as mine. I thought when God made Vivi he was giving me a window to see the world in a different way." They had a wonderful, close relationship when they were younger and Vivi provided the ying to Ginny's yang. 
 
Ginny distinctly remembers her feelings when she thought Vivi had died in the Bell Tower fall,"I felt my own future reduced to a dead and eventless vacuum, a mere biological process."
 
Ginny was not encouraged to develop friends other than Vivi. She should have been sent to a local school, where she could have engaged with classmates during the day, and come home in the evening to her parents. They could have served as a sounding board for her and actively searched for children that would understand and enjoy Ginny's company. Sending a child of her introspection to a boarding school where individual attention is not necessarily provided, was a mistake.
 
Once Vivi left, Ginny's world became smaller; her focus was totally on moths and not on the outside world. She needed relationships to keep her grounded. Her time with Arthur was very touching; she opened up with him and seemed to feel understood. How sad she didn't have more companionship.
 
I suppose I sympathize with Ginny the most, only because she lacked the resources we have now a days to help her adapt to the wider world. (Have a conference call now, otherwise, I'd end more succinctly.)
Nancy


I think you make many good points, Nancy. The fact that Ginny was deprived of human companionship throughout so much of her life certainly contributed to her mental state and her inability to deal with such companionship when Vivi returned home.
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Everyman
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Re: Regarding Ginny



KxBurns wrote:
I think Ginny believes that her killing of Vivien was brought on by Vivien herself.

It's always easier, isn't it?, when you can simply blame the victim.
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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pheath
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Re: Regarding Ginny



Everyman wrote:


KxBurns wrote:
I think Ginny believes that her killing of Vivien was brought on by Vivien herself.

It's always easier, isn't it?, when you can simply blame the victim.




Almost sounds made for an episode of Law and Order, huh?
-Philip
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