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ESTONE
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Re: Crows and Bears: Animals in the wild and in our imaginations

Do you have a favorite story involving animals that Mary tells so far?

Madrid’s story of the earring is so poignant, perfect for this place in the book.  I love that Mary brings “earrings” for the girls to put out so that no other has to suffer like Madrid. 

 

In what ways are the animal stories being used with the girls? Why do you think Mary has developed such a talent for this sort of story?

The stories with the animals reach so many subjects.  Mary teaches them about the circle of life with the crows and the moose.  She also teaches them about vanity, selfishness and greed with Madrid’s story.  I think Mary looks for ways to teach the girls through legends and stories about animals.  She thinks it all through in her head so the girls will really be entranced by the story as she is telling it and touched by the moral or the ending. 

 

What is Bunny's relationship to the Chungamunga girls?

The legend is that she is a former Chungamunga girl herself and she chose to be transformed into a rabbit to rid herself of her disease.  I love this tale because it gives some of the girls hope that one day they can be known without their diseases.  Even if the girls know that this is not true the legends and stories while they are on the Allagash are believed true!

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PB684
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Bunny

Excerpt from Chapter 8:

 

"Can the spell be reversed? Can Bunny become a girl again?"

Mary thought about it for a moment. Then she answered quietly.

"Yes, if she goes over the falls," she said. "She has to believe she will be a girl again and surrender herself to the falls. That's why she remains here."

 

I'm wondering if this refers to a "leap of faith". Is Bunny, or Mary, afraid to make that leap? I'm interested to hear what others think about this passage.

Paula

 

PB684
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JoanieGranola
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Re: Crows and Bears: Animals in the wild and in our imaginations

**WARNING: This response may contain spoilers for those who haven't completed the book.

 

We are hearing stories about animals all the time as the novel progresses, both through Cobb's observations, especially of moose and of crows on the river, and also from Mary's teaching and storytelling. Even when they meet, Mary identifies their behavior as if they were animals in the wild.

How are these stories and observations of animals being used in the novel? I think that the use of animals explains the circle of life, given that the Chungamunga girls will be on this planet for a limited amout of time. I also think that the use of animals in the stories are veiled attempts at discussing the conflicts that people experience throughout life.

 

Why is it that the characters seem to enjoy accusing each other of "being a bear in disguise?" Because bears, while ferocious creatures, can look absolutely goofy when meandering about.

 

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Krickett2432
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Re: Crows and Bears: Animals in the wild and in our imaginations

I too love the story of the crows and of Madrid.  I think it's wonderful to experience a story with a dramatically bad ending (for the crow), only to learn a great lesson for ourselves.  I loved the fact that the crow's shiny black color also showed all of the colors of the rainbow.  

 

The legend of Bunny was also intriguing.  Not only that it could possibly be a former Chungamunga girl, but that Bunny comes back year after year, in a sense "eternally on the water."

 

 

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jbg78
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Re: Crows and Bears: Animals in the wild and in our imaginations

People have been telling myths with animals to teach lessons for ages.  I thought the stories added to the texture of the story.  Come on...everybody knows at least one person that smells of honey or has a cave!

A book is like a garden carried in the pocket. ~Chinese Proverb~
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Peppermill
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Re: Bunny

[ Edited ]

 


PB684 wrote:

Excerpt from Chapter 8:

 

"Can the spell be reversed? Can Bunny become a girl again?"

Mary thought about it for a moment. Then she answered quietly.

"Yes, if she goes over the falls," she said. "She has to believe she will be a girl again and surrender herself to the falls. That's why she remains here."

 

I'm wondering if this refers to a "leap of faith". Is Bunny, or Mary, afraid to make that leap? I'm interested to hear what others think about this passage.

Paula

 


 

Paula -- Given that we know Mary went over the falls, I read this as sort of a (reverse) foreshadowing as Cobb told his story.  It also seemed to carry a bit of hope or belief in incarnation without being blatant. It was a poignant passage to me.

 

Pepper

 

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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JillinOH
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Re: Crows and Bears: Animals in the wild and in our imaginations

What is Bunny's relationship to the Chungamunga girls? Bunny is said to be a Chungamunga girl who chose to become a rabbit rather than face death by her illness. Bunny seems to symbolize that a Chungamunga girl lives on eternally but also may remind the girls of how brave they are to face their illness as a human. The girl's human name being Bunny and her form being a bunny gives the end of the trip for the girls a light hearted twist.

 

 

 

 

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coffee_luvr
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Registered: ‎10-29-2009

Re: Crows and Bears: Animals in the wild and in our imaginations

[ Edited ]

The use of the animal stories and behavior examples I think are really refreshing.  I am loving that the story is so intertwined with nature.  At one point when Mary is explaining why she does her research; she talks about the social interactions, hierarchies, and "message boards".  

The stories are instructive and show consequences which is why Mary uses them in her role as mentor/teacher.  The story of Madrid was compelling.

Mary stated she is interested in studying their behavior and that the crows have a desire for the entire flock to survive and therefore they alert when food is found.  Possibly that survival behavior is part of what draws Mary to study them.

Bunny never fails to come out when the Chungamunga girls arrive at their destination. Bunny represented faith and hope to me.  On some level I wasn't sure if Bunny was real or not......or was it they could see Bunny 'cause they believed they would?

 

 

Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. ~Barbara Tuchman
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carol_fa
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Re: Crows and Bears: Animals in the wild and in our imaginations

I am wishing that Bunny is a Chungamunga Girl.

 

My favorite animal story is the story of Madrid.

 

This is a wonderful book, I think Mary's stories of animals are so symbolic of real life stories.  Like the story of the black crow and how all the colors of the rainbow were seen in the feathers. I think she tells them to the girls to teach them life lessons that they can apply to their own situations.

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krb2g
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Re: Crows and Bears: Animals in the wild and in our imaginations

I agree with some previous posters that Mary and Cobb having inside jokes two seconds after they meet is a smidge on the implausible side--although, I find the whole love-at-first-sight thing a bit implausible too. At any rate, I've been putting aside my disbelief on that question because the story works in other ways, and I freely admit I'm no expert on love. 

 

Anyhow, the main thing I wanted to talk about in this post was how much I love Mary's animal mythologies. It's not just the individual stories (though they are intriguing on their own rights). I like that she has been collecting animal (and especially corvid) stories, and that they are all types of stories (from Native American folk tales to the earring story which was historical). I love that she has so many at her fingertips and that she deploys them to lure the girls into learning, on the one hand, and to succinctly show Cobb who she is and what matters to her, on the other hand. 

 

I think the Bunny/lost Chungamunga girl story works very well--both in the sacrifices Bunny has made (she escapes her disease but loses her humanity and some sorts of physical protections) and in the parallels between Bunny and Mary having to go over the falls. 

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thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007

Re: Crows and Bears: Animals in the wild and in our imaginations

 


Rachel-K wrote:

 

 

What is Bunny's relationship to the Chungamunga girls?

 


Bunny symbolizes an escape route for the Chungamunga girls. She offers them a way to avoid their destiny and really become eternal on the water. Bunny is hope personified.

The legend tells us that Bunny was once a young girl who was given the opportunity to cheat death, by being transformed into a bunny. It also tells us that Bunny can become a girl again by giving herself to the falls, thus reversing the spell and fulfilling her destiny.


If Mary gave herself to the falls, was the bunny then, really a symbol representing her? Has the bunny symbolically jumped into the falls in order to become a girl again, namely Mary? Does Mary's death therefore also signal the death of the bunny? Will the bunny continue to greet the Chungamunga girls in years to come or Is Mary's death also the end of hope?


Does anyone else have any thoughts?

 

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maxcat
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Re: Crows and Bears: Animals in the wild and in our imaginations

I loved Bunny, so cute and shy. Maybe she is a chungamunga girl from the past as rabbits don't have a very long life span due to predators, etc.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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thewanderingjew
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Re: Crows and Bears: Animals in the wild and in our imaginations

 


maxcat wrote:

I loved Bunny, so cute and shy. Maybe she is a chungamunga girl from the past as rabbits don't have a very long life span due to predators, etc.


 

I wondered, in such a situation, would the founders of the group perpetuate the myth by providing a new rabbit when necessary? Rabbits reproduce proficiently! Maybe they tagged the rabbit to follow its life. It was such an important symbol for the girls, I would find it hard to imagine they would allow for its demise. Yet, Mary's death, so closely following the myth of returning to human form and facing one's destiny, gave me pause and made me wonder what other revelations lay ahead in the book.

 

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eadieburke
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Re: Crows and Bears: Animals in the wild and in our imaginations

[ Edited ]

In regards to bears, I have found this information:

 

A bear’s natural reaction is to avoid humans.  Not every habituated bear attacks humans, but there have been instances of attacks on humans by bears that were regarded as  habituated or “nuisance” bears.  It is a fact that a fed bear quickly learns that humans are a source of food and anytime fed bears are around humans, it increases the chance that there will be conflict between them.  Aside from the harm it can cause the bear, only fools think that feeding bears doesn’t  put themselves at risk of injury.

 

I find it ironic that Mary asks Cobb if he is a bear just before she cooks for him. 

 

 Mary asks if John or Annie might have been a bear and Cobb's reply is : "Annie is definitely not a bear. A bear can't cook without eating everything",

 

When Wally gives Cobb a cinnamon bun, after eating it, Cobb says, "The cinnamon bun was delicious." Wally replies, " I know, the bears have told me so." Then Cobb asks Wally if she is a bear.

 

It seems to me that the bear question has to do with feeding someone in the woods and is asked as a precaution because only fools think that feeding bears doesn't put themselves at risk or injury.

Eadie - A day out-of-doors, someone I loved to talk with, a good book and some simple food and music -- that would be rest. - Eleanor Roosevelt
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Coffeenut
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Re: Crows and Bears: Animals in the wild and in our imaginations

"Why is it that the characters seem to enjoy accusing each other of "being a bear in disguise?"

 

I think this is going to have a big part in the story. I'm interested in finding out what, though.

Me :smileyhappy:
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embersky_gemini
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Re: Crows and Bears: Animals in the wild and in our imaginations

PB684 wrote:

Excerpt from Chapter 8:

 

"Can the spell be reversed? Can Bunny become a girl again?"

Mary thought about it for a moment. Then she answered quietly.

"Yes, if she goes over the falls," she said. "She has to believe she will be a girl again and surrender herself to the falls. That's why she remains here."

 

I'm wondering if this refers to a "leap of faith". Is Bunny, or Mary, afraid to make that leap? I'm interested to hear what others think about this passage.

Paula


I enjoyed the story of Bunny, but didn't think that deep into it until now.  
So if Bunny was a sick girl who chose to be a healthy rabbit , she found an escape from her condition and extended her life that way.  To become a girl again would mean to go back to her life of being ill and having a shortened life.  This would be an acceptance of her mortality, and I suppose a leap of faith in the sense that she would be taking a chance to let come what may in her life.  Bunnies may not have long lifespans due to predators and such, but this one seems to be doing good so far.  Death comes to everyone, and maybe it is easier to live a life not knowing when and how you will die than to live one knowing what will kill you and about how long you may have left.
I'm not exactly sure what I mean by that specifically, but somehow I feel that it has to do with acceptance.  Maybe death is the falls, and to go over them is to die, but in death bunny will return to being a girl, but it's scary and she would have to believe that it will be true.  Not sure, more ideas anyone?

 

 

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DSaff
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Re: Crows and Bears: Animals in the wild and in our imaginations

While I am really enjoying the crow stories, I think my favorite is about the crow relighting the fires in volcanoes, etc., around the world after they had all gone out. It changed crows to black, but the beautiful rainbow of colors can still be seen at sunrise. It is a story of sacrifice and hope, and has really stuck with me.

 

The girls get totally wrapped up into the stories. There is a lesson for them in each one, and Mary makes them come alive. The stories take each of them out of their world and problems and gives them something else to focus on for a little while. They provide hope and enjoyment. Mary is so good at it because she "feels" each story.

 

I love the idea of "bears in disguise," and can't wait to hear more about it.  :smileyhappy:

 

Bunny is an interesting character in our story. As an animal, Bunny always greets the Chungamunga girls while they are visiting her spot. Was she once real? We don't know that, but the story certainly causes anticipation in each participant. I was anxiously awaiting reading that she had arrived. <grin>

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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babzilla41
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Re: Crows and Bears: Animals in the wild and in our imaginations


Fozzie wrote:

Rachel-K wrote:

 Why is it that the characters seem to enjoy accusing each other of "being a bear in disguise?"

 


I wish I knew the answer to this!  I just don't get it.  It's like an inside joke, but being on the outside of it is making it a bit tiresome for me.


 

I have to agree.... I keep wondering if I'm missing something that is either obvious or that everyone else gets.

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PiperMurphy
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Re: Crows and Bears: Animals in the wild and in our imaginations

Why is it that the characters seem to enjoy accusing each other of "being a bear in disguise?"

 

Maybe it is the whimsy of believing that a bear could transform itself to human form, to be able to interact with people, and then go back to its bear life. Possibly it symbolizes the girls' desire to maintain their experience at camp rather than go back to their real life.

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Popper19
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Re: Crows and Bears: Animals in the wild and in our imaginations

[ Edited ]

I too was most interested in the crow information.  Several times throughout the first 8 chapters I've meant to look up information on corvids since the information in the novel piqued my interest.  I still have yet to do some research, but I enjoy when a novel prompts me to learn new things!

 

As for the bear and bunny stories...I think they are part of the traditions and folk lore of the Chungamunga girls.  It adds to the mystic and the whole experience for the girls.