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KxBurns
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Tuesday and Today

[ Edited ]
We're a little bit ahead of schedule but I think it's time to discuss the remainder of the book.
 
 

Chapter 23: Intuition

 

-what do you make of Ginny's statement that this is her most "naturally emotional moment" (p. 270), being taken away from her house and Michael, her only friend. What does this tell us about Ginny?

 

-is Ginny's connection with Michael all in her head? We get just a small snippet of his behavior during this encounter – do you feel it indicates the same depth of feeling between them that Ginny claims?

 

 

Today

 

-we find that in captivity, Ginny feels she has actually been released and freed from the imprisonment of

Bulburrow Court (and her memories?)
. I think it's fitting that we don't have a chapter name or number and we can't tell how long ago the events of the book took place; it's as if time as ceased to matter beyond just the minutes on the clock, which Ginny monitors as vigilantly as ever.

 

So is Ginny better off, having been relieved of all choice, all freedom, but with her delusions in tact and her obsessions apparently humored? She certainly seems happier!

 

-do you think Ginny got what she deserved in the end? What about Vivi, Maud, and Clive? Was this whole family made up of cannibals, or was Ginny the maggot that devoured the rest from the inside out?

 

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!



Message Edited by KxBurns on 03-14-2008 12:54 PM
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bentley
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Re: Chapter 23

The quote, "It is not until the next day that they come to get me. I knew they would, that they would have discovered the truth using the additional sense that everyone but me seems to have been born with."

Here I think that Ginny is admitting at least to herself that she does not know what "truth" is. That to me is striking because she is the narrator of this book. So if she does not know the truth but fills her head with what she wants to believe, will we ever know what happened at all. All of the narrative could be just figments of Ginny's imagination.

When she is leaving the house she mentions that she won't feel safe which I think by the end of the novel in fact she does feel quite secure and satisfied in her new location which appears to be some kind of institution for the elderly or other ailments.

Ginny saying that the goodbye with Michael is the saddest day of her life just shows you the low emotional IQ quotient that Ginny has. How about when her mother or father died or when her sister was murdered or when her little son died? There is no depth of feeling between them that is mutual. I think Michael has been strategizing to get the old house anyways and now it certainly seems that he has a good shot of purchasing it since Ginny had indicated that he was one of the wealthiest men in town. On the other hand, Michael did do some things for Ginny like putting on the lock on the basement door, etc. and since there were so few people in her life, I could understand her having some attachment to him as another human being who managed to do a few things for her in gratitude for living on the property which I believe he still did.
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bentley
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Re: Today

The first quote of this chapter is quite revealing: "I'm sitting up in bed. It's not my bed. I don't know whose it is."

It does seem strange to me that Ginny does not know where she was taken and that this is a place where she will be taken care of. That she is in her room and the bed is hers to use while she is there. Saying that it belongs to somebody else is true but reveals her lack of understanding. She doesn't seem to know what has happened to her. She knows that she is not at Bulburrow Court.

The next quote that I also found interesting was: "I don't know anything about Helen and Helen doesn't know anything about me. She has no idea I'm a famous lepidopterist and I lived in a mansion. Can you imagine? If I told her, she'd never believe me."

Ginny has been here for awhile but lacks any social skills to ask anything about Helen. All we know is that Ginny does not like it when her clock is moved (everything must be in order and structured - anything out of the ordinary must be put back in its exact location). We know that she has not mentioned it to Helen but obviously mentioned to Helen how she wanted her tea done (very ritualistic). You have to ask yourself why would Helen not believe her; we know that she did in fact live in a mansion (that is true we believe); we are not sure if she was a famous lepidoterist (some of us have our doubts). Would Helen not believe her because she works in this institution and knows something about Ginny's condition and knows she does not know the truth or is this just another fantasy of Ginny's.

The next quote was startling: "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."

At first, I thought how delusional can she be? Very. Then I wondered why she said that the weekend seemed unreal? Is she schizophrenic: did she have multiple personalities? You have to question everything you read after this chapter, don't you. I think she represented the cannibal and she killed them all off one way or another. Real or imagined. She pulled through unscathed? Sitting in an institution? How remarkable that she could even think that?

At the end she seems to think she has a different life and switched with someone. Is this another identity or personality? She obviously is on some meds and feels less anxious and is a happier person. She likes the closeness, the coziness, no clutter, the structure, the regular routine, no unexpected visitor. This is her new world and she likes it fine. And what really sums up her mental state is that the thing she likes best is having control to have someone come running any time at all to check on the correct time. Bizarre but startling. I believe that Clive and his daughter Ginny were the cannibals.
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Oldesq
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Re: Today

I think that Ginny is the cannibal caterpillar - the bulbous interloper who not satisfied with a vegetarian diet, helped herself to the ants' own neglected larvae and after gorging herself to immobility needed to move to the next victim's nest and simply directed the ants, like little robots to pick [her] up and carry [her]. (p. 191).  And now they wait, according to her methodology and answer her little bell.
 
As an aside, I do think it is most unfair for Ms. Adams to make Michael the character who supposedly reveals all- like a mystery story that in the final reveal turns on a detail not included in the text.  I also include Eileen in that complaint.
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dhaupt
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Re: Tuesday and Today

I have to say that I was disappointed in the ending, there were so many questions that I had throughout the book that I was hoping to have answered in the end and alas I know no more now than then. In a thread a bit farther back someone said that Ginny failed as a narrator I think I'll have to agree with them.
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bentley
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Re: Today



Oldesq wrote:
I think that Ginny is the cannibal caterpillar - the bulbous interloper who not satisfied with a vegetarian diet, helped herself to the ants' own neglected larvae and after gorging herself to immobility needed to move to the next victim's nest and simply directed the ants, like little robots to pick [her] up and carry [her]. (p. 191).  And now they wait, according to her methodology and answer her little bell.
 
As an aside, I do think it is most unfair for Ms. Adams to make Michael the character who supposedly reveals all- like a mystery story that in the final reveal turns on a detail not included in the text.  I also include Eileen in that complaint.





Interesting take Oldesq..what is your take on the mental ailment or prognosis; I went back and forth between autism and being schizophrenic (multiple personalities). We can certainly agree that she is not all there.

I also have to agree that the last chapter seems like an afterthought to neatly explain away the unexplainable. Add a detail here and there and the package is tied with a bow. Eileen did nothing for me and I have to agree with Ginny on that one. Michael was another non-communicative sort as well. At one point, I wondered how his mother died.
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Oldesq
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Re: Today


bentley wrote: (snipped)



Interesting take Oldesq..what is your take on the mental ailment or prognosis; I went back and forth between autism and being schizophrenic (multiple personalities). We can certainly agree that she is not all there.

I also have to agree that the last chapter seems like an afterthought to neatly explain away the unexplainable. Add a detail here and there and the package is tied with a bow. Eileen did nothing for me and I have to agree with Ginny on that one. Michael was another non-communicative sort as well. At one point, I wondered how his mother died.

bentley- as I wrote in the thread for chapters 20-22:

 
Of course, of course, it all makes sense now.  Ginny is the cannibal and her problem wasn't FASD or Aspergers or a mental disability- she had the look and everyone knew as soon as they saw her in her cocoon in that snowstorm of her birth:
"He's a cannibal," said Clive, almost proudly, a parent blind to his offspring's antisocial habit."
 
"All of them eat their shells (Bulborrow Court-even the marble fireplace) once they've hatched, but some carry on eating through all their siblings."
 
"You can usually just guess-instantly-which ones will be cannibals."
 
"Well, their the only ones left, silly," Vivi replied cheekily.
 
"No, before they've eaten the others," [Arthur] said.
 
"Oh, that," [Vivi] said, affecting mystery.  "They've just got a look about them," and Arthur and [Ginny], we started laughing.
 
(pp. 119-120).
 
When Arthur demands to know the family secret about cannibal caterpillars, Ginny replies, "'Oh, that,' I said relieved, and I had to think for a moment how to put something I'd only ever known by instinct into words. 'Well, they're usually a lot less hairy than their brothers, and sort of  . . .' 'Twitchy,' I decided finally." (p.164).
 
Other members of the house have had "the look" - the young assistant holding killing fluid like a trophy (p. 10).  
 
I don't think there is a diagnosis, Ginny is just pure cannibal, immutable nature, obvious from birth.
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Bonnie824
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Re: Tuesday and Today

I thought the ending was fascinating. No Ginny did not get punished- but she really was not mentally responsible for what she did IMO. It makes you wonder if all those years the family tried to keep from facing her oddness and maybe having her live in a clinical setting were wasted. She did seem happier with the structure and routine of an institutional setting.
 
I felt bad for Vivi, but I really wasn't that invested in her as a character. I did wonder what made her come home- and if she had some kind of plans to move Ginny somewhere and keep the house.
 
I don't think Michael thought of Ginny as a true friend, but I do think they had a relationship and he was a base for her for many years.
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HannibalCat
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Re: Today



Oldesq wrote:
I think that Ginny is the cannibal caterpillar - the bulbous interloper who not satisfied with a vegetarian diet, helped herself to the ants' own neglected larvae and after gorging herself to immobility needed to move to the next victim's nest and simply directed the ants, like little robots to pick [her] up and carry [her]. (p. 191). And now they wait, according to her methodology and answer her little bell.
As an aside, I do think it is most unfair for Ms. Adams to make Michael the character who supposedly reveals all- like a mystery story that in the final reveal turns on a detail not included in the text. I also include Eileen in that complaint.





Another part of that caterpillar story is that they move on with "...no knowledge or burden of guilt for its obscene past." Ginny will embody that obscene past very shortly, and we see that in her safe little room she expresses no burden of guilt either. I blame Clive and Maud for a lot of this. Clive praised her scientific approach, Maud encouraged her to hide in the room in her head, and her illness made it all make sense to her. She just did what had to be done (according to her way of thinking) and moved on. Now she is safe and it would seem "happy" for the first time. Definitely a "nature vs nurture" outcome. But in this instance, nature and nurture seem equal partners.
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detailmuse
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Re: Tuesday and Today

I like your comment that time has been suspended, but I think it's still mattering, a little bit. The author could have labeled the last section "Epilogue," but she kept with a sense of time: "Today."  In an institution, it's an unending, unchanging Today -- Ginny's Today will be the same no matter when readers pick up the novel.
 
For us as readers, Ginny hasn't been institutionalized long -- Vivi was born in October 1940 (p6) and returns at age 67 (p3), so their weekend together takes place in very late 2007 or in 2008. I have some impression that the weekend was set in the springtime ... right about now. {twilight zone music}

KxBurns wrote:
Today

I think it's fitting that we don't have a chapter name or number and we can't tell how long ago the events of the book took place; it's as if time as ceased to matter beyond just the minutes on the clock, which Ginny monitors as vigilantly as ever.


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detailmuse
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Re: Tuesday and Today

[ Edited ]
Throughout the novel, whenever Ginny remarked that she wouldn't harm a fly, Norman Bates's identical line (from Hitchcock's Psycho) came to my mind. Near the end of the novel (p269), when "[Inspector Piggott] gently lays a blanket over my shoulders..." it clinched it: a jailhouse officer did the same thing in Psycho. It helped me to think of Norman, regressed into Mother and narrating the last minute or so of the film, in order to understand Ginny, narrating her story from her lifelong state of mental dysfunction.


Message Edited by detailmuse on 03-14-2008 04:05 PM
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bookhunter
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Re: Today


bentley wrote: (snipped)



Interesting take Oldesq..what is your take on the mental ailment or prognosis; I went back and forth between autism and being schizophrenic (multiple personalities). We can certainly agree that she is not all there.

(snipped)

Oldsq wrote:

bentley- as I wrote in the thread for chapters 20-22:

Of course, of course, it all makes sense now.  Ginny is the cannibal and her problem wasn't FASD or Aspergers or a mental disability- she had the look and everyone knew as soon as they saw her in her cocoon in that snowstorm of her birth:
 
(snipped)
...When Arthur demands to know the family secret about cannibal caterpillars, Ginny replies, "'Oh, that,' I said relieved, and I had to think for a moment how to put something I'd only ever known by instinct into words. 'Well, they're usually a lot less hairy than their brothers, and sort of  . . .' 'Twitchy,' I decided finally." (p.164).
 
Other members of the house have had "the look" - the young assistant holding killing fluid like a trophy (p. 10).  
 
I don't think there is a diagnosis, Ginny is just pure cannibal, immutable nature, obvious from birth.


Oldsq, I agree.  Ginny is an odd experiment (I hope accidentally created!) that explores what Clive says at the conference about moths:
 
"...I believe that insects are not capable of making a decision" 
 
" ...every action an insect makes is due to a relex, a taxis or a tropism.  Their existence is purely mechanical."
 
"I belive love itself is no more than a mechanical process..."  
 
"...an emotion is merely the symptom caused by a particular chemical being released into your brain..."
 
Ginny often says that what she is doing is involuntary.  Even when she goes up the stairs to the attic she doesn't make the decision to go up.  She describes being pulled up.  Vivi's death she rationalized was not even done by her--it was Vivi's choice to drink it.
 
I think the book asks an interesting question of us:
 
How much of our behavior is determined by biology and how much by our self-awareness and "free will?"
 
Ann, bookhunter
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bookhunter
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Re: Tuesday and Today



detailmuse wrote:
Throughout the novel, whenever Ginny remarked that she wouldn't harm a fly, Norman Bates's identical line (from Hitchcock's Psycho) came to my mind. At the end (p269), when "[Inspector Piggott] gently lays a blanket over my shoulders..." it clinched it. A jailhouse officer did the same thing in Psycho, and I'm left with a strong similarity between Norman, regressed into Mother and narrating the last minute or so of the film, and Ginny, narrating her story from her lifelong state of mental dysfunction.


Good comparison!  I also thought of the old movie (1950s maybe?) "The Bad Seed" which was based on a play.  There are murders all around that seem to have been commited by a sweet little girl.  She was adopted and there was discussion in the movie about Freud's "new" ideas and nature vs. nurture.
 
Ann, bookhunter
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Re: Today

But the thing is that he doesn't reveal all. They have "so many understandings to share," but they aren't shared with us (any more than Vivien tells us what it was that was wrong with Ginny).

And if Michael really could foresee that Ginny would murder Vivian, as she suggests, why didn't he say something? I don't recall his being around during any of the days of Vivien's visit.

Oldesq wrote:
As an aside, I do think it is most unfair for Ms. Adams to make Michael the character who supposedly reveals all- like a mystery story that in the final reveal turns on a detail not included in the text. I also include Eileen in that complaint.

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Re: Tuesday and Today

I'm unclear why Ginny was apparently put into a mental ward and not tried for murder. Based on what we've seen, she certainly doesn't seem to me to meet the legal standard of not guilty by reason of insanity.

The McNaughton standard used in England states that the accused 'must be laboring under such a defective reason from disease of the mind as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing or if he did know it, that he did not know he was doing what was wrong.'

Ginny knew perfectly well what she was doing. She carefully plotted it out, putting the poison in the milk and, when that was insufficient, in the water. I think it's perfectly clear that she knew that she was committing murder, knowing the nature and quality of act. And I think she knew that it was a wrong thing to do, but did it anyhow for her own reasons.

As do others, I find the conclusion far from satisfying.


Bonnie824 wrote:
I thought the ending was fascinating. No Ginny did not get punished- but she really was not mentally responsible for what she did IMO. It makes you wonder if all those years the family tried to keep from facing her oddness and maybe having her live in a clinical setting were wasted. She did seem happier with the structure and routine of an institutional setting.
I felt bad for Vivi, but I really wasn't that invested in her as a character. I did wonder what made her come home- and if she had some kind of plans to move Ginny somewhere and keep the house.
I don't think Michael thought of Ginny as a true friend, but I do think they had a relationship and he was a base for her for many years.



_______________
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bookhunter
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Re: Tuesday and Today



detailmuse wrote:
I like your comment that time has been suspended, but I think it's still mattering, a little bit. The author could have labeled the last section "Epilogue," but she kept with a sense of time: "Today."  In an institution, it's an unending, unchanging Today -- Ginny's Today will be the same no matter when readers pick up the novel.
 
For us as readers, Ginny hasn't been institutionalized long -- Vivi was born in October 1940 (p6) and returns at age 67 (p3), so their weekend together takes place in very late 2007 or in 2008. I have some impression that the weekend was set in the springtime ... right about now. {twilight zone music}

KxBurns wrote:
Today

I think it's fitting that we don't have a chapter name or number and we can't tell how long ago the events of the book took place; it's as if time as ceased to matter beyond just the minutes on the clock, which Ginny monitors as vigilantly as ever.




I boldfaced your sentence above, detailmuse.  It is cool to me in the novel that Ginny speaks in present tense in the "present' and relates past events in the past. 
 
"It's ten to two in the afternoon and I've been waiting form my little sister, Vivi, since one-thirty."
 
It puts us right in Ginny's head through the entire weekend.  This was especially effective to me in The Moth Hunter chpater when she goes up into the attic, describing everything she sees, up to that last sentence..."What I don't know is the precise amount I will need to kill Vivien."  (paraphrased)
 
We are in her head, and I think even SHE doesn't know that she is going to kill her until that very moment that we do.
 
Ann, bookhunter (humming Twilight theme right along with you)
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Re: Tuesday and Today

I cited Shakespeare before. This time I'm picking on T.S. Eliot, slightly paraphrased from The Hollow Men:

She is the hollow woman
She is the stuffed woman
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!

This is the way the book ends
This is the way the book ends
This is the way the book ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
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thefamilymanager
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Re: Tuesday and Today



dhaupt wrote:
I have to say that I was disappointed in the ending, there were so many questions that I had throughout the book that I was hoping to have answered in the end and alas I know no more now than then. In a thread a bit farther back someone said that Ginny failed as a narrator I think I'll have to agree with them.

Debbie,
 
I completely agree with you.  It didn't answer the questions many of us had. 
 
Also, I thought the last chapter was an afterthought as someone said above. 
 
As an aside, I think this was an interesting book but one that I might not recommend because as has been pointed out,  I think Ginny did fail as the narrator.  I found the book hard to follow.  I think we needed more than one point of view to put some of the pieces together.... Maybe we needed Michael to fill in some pieces or maybe some of the incidents told by Vivi.  I think we then would have been able to better assess some of the situations, i.e. The Bell Tower, Maud's death, etc.
 
Lisa
LMD

- if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with! - Dorothy - Wizard of OZ
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LizzieAnn
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Re: Tuesday and Today

I too wonder why she isn't tried for murder.  But then again, I'm wondering if they realize that Ginny did in fact murder Vivi - intentionally.
 
In chapter 22, Ginny says that she knew they would come for her - that they would learn the truth by that "intuition" that she herself doesn't have.  But, I have to wonder what truth Ginny is talking of as I don't know how much reliance can be placed on her narration.  Is it the truth of Ginny coldly & deliberately murdering Vivi?  Or is it the truth that Ginny shouldn't be & is incapable living alone by herself? 
 
After all, wouldn't she be in a prision ward/hospital if it was believed she had committed murder? 
 


Everyman wrote:

I'm unclear why Ginny was apparently put into a mental ward and not tried for murder. Based on what we've seen, she certainly doesn't seem to me to meet the legal standard of not guilty by reason of insanity.

The McNaughton standard used in England states that the accused 'must be laboring under such a defective reason from disease of the mind as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing or if he did know it, that he did not know he was doing what was wrong.'

Ginny knew perfectly well what she was doing. She carefully plotted it out, putting the poison in the milk and, when that was insufficient, in the water. I think it's perfectly clear that she knew that she was committing murder, knowing the nature and quality of act. And I think she knew that it was a wrong thing to do, but did it anyhow for her own reasons.

As do others, I find the conclusion far from satisfying.



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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bookhunter
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Re: Tuesday and Today



Everyman wrote:
I'm unclear why Ginny was apparently put into a mental ward and not tried for murder. Based on what we've seen, she certainly doesn't seem to me to meet the legal standard of not guilty by reason of insanity.



Everyman (or someone else), what are prisons like in England?  The description at the beginning of the chapter says there are bars on the window.  She doesn't have a bathroom.  I thought she probably WAS in a prison  (we don't know how much time has passed from Monday until "Today"), but one that has special care for her. 
 
Ann, bookhunter
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