Reply
Moderator
Rachel-K
Posts: 1,495
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Eternal on the Water, Final Chapters and Whole Novel

Please use any of the following questions to discuss the end of Eternal on the Water. All spoilers are welcome here, of course, and please feel free to post your own observations and questions for the group!

 

During these final chapters, we get a time-lapse sequence of Cobb and Mary together with their friends over the last few years of Mary's life. What was the effect of this kind of higher-speed story-telling at the end of the novel? Did you feel you had time to acclimate yourself to Mary's deterioration when some small details of it were given mostly as brief interruptions in the larger motion of daily life, family, seasons, and friends?

 

Mary's send off: Mary has two chances to say goodbye to many people who love her, the first being her retirement, and the second being the gathering at the campsite just before her death. In small ways the two scenes mirror each other, but the distance between them also shows how much she has lost to the disease in a brief period of time, since she was unable to stand or speak much at the end.

 

Did you marvel at the number of people who show up for each of these goodbyes? How do her friends' actions at this time show their own characters, or reveal how each of them related to Mary?

 

How do you think so many of their friends could support Mary's assisted suicide? Who among them is most reluctant to let her go? Were you surprised to see the Chungamunga girls on the river?

 

Is this a happy or a sad ending, for you? Now that you've finished the novel, what do you think the effect of knowing the ending had on your reading?

 

Were you surprised to find yourself back with the ranger, Sarah at the end? What's the effect of enclosing the whole story within this scene at the campsite with the ranger near Mary's body?

Frequent Contributor
kstempien
Posts: 28
Registered: ‎12-01-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Eternal on the Water, Final Chapters and Whole Novel

How do you think so many of their friends could support Mary's assisted suicide? Who among them is most reluctant to let her go? Were you surprised to see the Chungamunga girls on the river?

 

I think it was easy for that many people to show up and show their support for Mary in the end. They showed up because they cared about her, and she had touched their lives in numerous ways. The impact she had on each and every one of them was amazing, whether it be from a role in the family, a friend, lover, etc., and it showed when everyone showed up atthe gathering in the end.

 

As far as supporting her assisted suicide, I'm sure most characters had a hard time going along with it. They may not necessarily agreed with her request, but they honored it, for her sake. They knew what it meant to her, straight from the start, and they respected that, regardless of their own personal beliefs or feelings.

 

I believe everyone had some sort of reluctancy in letting Mary go. To say that they were happy to see her go is insane. Although they may have felt it was the right thing, so she wouldn't suffer any longer, I believe they certainly weren't happy about doing so. With the impact she had on so many peoples' lives, it's evident that each individual had their own personal reasons for being reluctant. However, I believe her mother and brother had a harder time than most, simply because she was their daughter/sister. They had their unique bond with her, so it was a little more personal to them. However, I think Cobb had the hardest time letting her go! The relationship they shared was beautiful and he was in love with her. Although he knew the time would eventually come at some point, it's still not an easy thing to do when the time actually comes.

 

I wasn't surprised that the girls showed up. Given the interactions between Mary and the group, as well as the ties she had to the group, it was obvious they would be present. Honestly, I'm sure that it would probably be some sort of actual routine, that they would be present to that sort of event for any member of their group. Not only were they paying their respects to someone they looked up to, that had guided them, but was also one of them!

Contributor
Jeanne-ND91
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎03-27-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Eternal on the Water, Final Chapters and Whole Novel

During these final chapters, we get a time-lapse sequence of Cobb and Mary together with their friends over the last few years of Mary's life. What was the effect of this kind of higher-speed story-telling at the end of the novel? Did you feel you had time to acclimate yourself to Mary's deterioration when some small details of it were given mostly as brief interruptions in the larger motion of daily life, family, seasons, and friends? I didn't mind the speeding up of the story. I was glad to find out that so many years had passed by actually and not just months. I was sad to see that it was near the end of the story though, which meant Mary was going to die soon. I was sad too to read about Myrtle's death and how hard Cobb took the news.

 

Mary's send off: Mary has two chances to say goodbye to many people who love her, the first being her retirement, and the second being the gathering at the campsite just before her death. In small ways the two scenes mirror each other, but the distance between them also shows how much she has lost to the disease in a brief period of time, since she was unable to stand or speak much at the end.

 

Did you marvel at the number of people who show up for each of these goodbyes? How do her friends' actions at this time show their own characters, or reveal how each of them related to Mary? I didn't think it was unusual to see that many people at the sendoffs. She had touched a lot of people's lives over the years and it was great to see that they all supported her and wanted to say goodbye. My college roommate passed away a few years ago at age 34. She has a few thousand at her wake and funeral; in her short life she had met and been involved with so many people that it was amazing to see them all come to say goodbye. I think the people in the story were showing how honored they were by knowing Mary that they came to thank her as well as say goodbye.

 

How do you think so many of their friends could support Mary's assisted suicide? Who among them is most reluctant to let her go? Were you surprised to see the Chungamunga girls on the river? I think because Mary held a special part in their lives and hearts, it was what they wanted to do instead of wait for her to die at home and suffer. I think her brother had a hard time (as they all did) and Cobb. I loved that the Chungamunga girls came out for her. Very special.

 

Is this a happy or a sad ending, for you? Now that you've finished the novel, what do you think the effect of knowing the ending had on your reading? It was a very sad ending for me. I cried throughout most of the last couple of chapters. Knowing the ending at the beginning didn't make it any less sad for me.

 

Were you surprised to find yourself back with the ranger, Sarah at the end? What's the effect of enclosing the whole story within this scene at the campsite with the ranger near Mary's body? I wasn't surprised at being back by the fire w/ the ranger. I hope Cobb was able to move on with his life and not grieve too hard for Mary. I envision him maybe going back to help her brother with the turtles and still being involved with Francis and his becoming an adult.


Jeanne Langen
Scribe
DSaff
Posts: 2,048
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Eternal on the Water, Final Chapters and Whole Novel

There is so much covered at the end of the novel, so many highlights. I cried through her speech at the retirement party. So many people came to honor her, and Mary's ability to fight through her symptoms to tell them what was in her heart was amazing. The best part for me was the "third love" part of the speech on page 313. It all seemed amazingly real!

 

The final goodbye's were handled with dignity and respect. I loved when Francis showed up with his piccolo and the bear??!! And, what can you say about the Chungamunga girls and their tribute. Needless to say, I read through the tears as each person, friend or family, said good-bye.

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
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
Distinguished Bibliophile
pen21
Posts: 3,648
Registered: ‎03-23-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Eternal on the Water, Final Chapters and Whole Novel

So many people supporting Mary's assisted suicide, was a very emotional piece of the book.

That she decided to end in this way was very hard for me.

And I think it would be very hard for those around her no matter what their thoughts were on her decision.

Mary seemed to have the ability to gain faith into having people trust in her which was an important piece for her character in the book.

pen21

Distinguished Correspondent
emmagrace
Posts: 162
Registered: ‎12-04-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Eternal on the Water, Final Chapters and Whole Novel

I cried the whole time in these final chapters! The scenes were written beautifully! I think that the assisted suicide was the perfect ending for a character like Mary! It somehow seemed appropriate. I also loved how everyone came to say good-bye especially the chungamunga girls and Francis showing up acting as if he were a bear.

 

Knowing the ending made me want to find out how and why they found Mary's body. I needed to know what happened, so for me, I enjoyed knowing the ending.

Moderator
dhaupt
Posts: 11,832
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Eternal on the Water, Final Chapters and Whole Novel

[ Edited ]

These were the hardest chapters I've ever read in my life. The final chapter of Mary's life was the most heartbreaking while being the most beautiful part of the story.

It showed the amazing love between Mary and Cobb, the lasting friendships they made and kept during their too short albeit wonderful time together. 

I personally think that if Joe had made the declining of Mary longer or in more detail it would have taken away from the "plot" and been more about the illness then about Mary, Cobb and the people who loved them and how they all dealt with the disease.

The scene of the retirement party for Mary was very touching and a testament to the kind of teacher Mary obviously was, even though we didn't see too much evidence of Mary's teaching during the novel.

The campsite scene however, with the bear and the piccolo was almost more than I could take and then to experience through Cobb how he let Mary go, well let me tell you that took almost a whole box of tissues, but Joe did an excellent job on these final chapters and I think it made the whole book richer.

Frequent Contributor
KateBrianIsAwesome
Posts: 115
Registered: ‎08-19-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Eternal on the Water, Final Chapters and Whole Novel

Who among them is most reluctant to let her go? Among all of Mary's friends and family I think it was hardest for Freddy and Cobb to let go of her.

Were you surprised to see the Chungamunga girls on the river? The Chungamunga girls on the river on Mary's last day was a good addition to the ending. Mary was a Chungamunga girl and they played a big part on her life.

Is this a happy or a sad ending, for you? It was both a happy and sad ending for me. I got teary eyed at times. But I was also happy for Mary because she got what she wanted most. She didn't want her illness to completely take over her and kill her. I feel bad for the characters that had to loose her.

Now that you've finished the novel, what do you think the effect of knowing the ending had on your reading? The effect of knowing the ending softened the ending a little bit so you don't completely get shocked.

Were you surprised to find yourself back with the ranger, Sarah at the end? Well the story started out with the ranger so I was wanting to see her reaction to the story.

 What's the effect of enclosing the whole story within this scene at the campsite with the ranger near Mary's body? We get a sense as to how things will play out in the end.

Reading can only make you more happy and smarter. :smileyhappy:

Visit my blog at http://teenbibliophile.blogspot.com/

- Mallory
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Eternal on the Water, Final Chapters and Whole Novel

[ Edited ]

Were you surprised to find yourself back with the ranger, Sarah at the end?

 

It was appropriate to the framing of the novel Monninger had used.

 

I know what Sarah said.  I wonder what was her oath of office. 

 

 

And what is the law of Maine.

"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
Inspired Wordsmith
basson_mommy12
Posts: 743
Registered: ‎05-27-2008

Re: Eternal on the Water, Final Chapters and Whole Novel

 

During these final chapters, we get a time-lapse sequence of Cobb and Mary together with their friends over the last few years of Mary's life. What was the effect of this kind of higher-speed story-telling at the end of the novel?   Did you feel you had time to acclimate yourself to Mary's deterioration when some small details of it were given mostly as brief interruptions in the larger motion of daily life, family, seasons, and friends?   I was glad that it was years (several) rather than the 4 that might've been from the allusions to Thoreau.  The mundacity of daily living was presented in a way that helped me reflect on my own mundane existence of getting up, shipping the kids to school, reading, teaching, speaking, caring, doing, working with the kids more, and back to bed... In the long scheme, when everything is added up, it will mean something more substantial someday, than it might mean to me today.

 

Mary's send off: Mary has two chances to say goodbye to many people who love her, the first being her retirement, and the second being the gathering at the campsite just before her death. In small ways the two scenes mirror each other, but the distance between them also shows how much she has lost to the disease in a brief period of time, since she was unable to stand or speak much at the end.  I hope I have this opportunity, however, it also reminds me to make it clear to those I love how much I care for them today, because there may not be a tomorrow!  We're all dying, and none of us knows our "expiration date."

 

How do you think so many of their friends could support Mary's assisted suicide? Who among them is most reluctant to let her go? Were you surprised to see the Chungamunga girls on the river?  I think if one was truly Mary's friend, you would understand and would want to be a part of her end.  I was not surprised by the Chungamunga girls, rather, I anticipated their arrival and knew it would be a beautiful tribute to Mary's love.

 

Is this a happy or a sad ending, for you? Now that you've finished the novel, what do you think the effect of knowing the ending had on your reading?  The question of whether Cobb stayed or not was pretty clear, of course, which was the most dramatic conflict. 

 

Were you surprised to find yourself back with the ranger, Sarah at the end? What's the effect of enclosing the whole story within this scene at the campsite with the ranger near Mary's body? I think that the circular storytelling is poignant - ashes to ashes, dust to dust - from whence we came, to that we return.  Not to get all "Lion King," it is all very Circle of Life-esque.


 

 

"The Answer to the Great Question of ... Life, the Universe and Everything ... (is) 42." -- Douglas Adams' "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"

Ruth W.
Grand Rapids, MI
Inspired Contributor
socalreader
Posts: 41
Registered: ‎12-01-2009

Re: Eternal on the Water, Final Chapters and Whole Novel

I was glad to find at the time lapse, that they had years together and not months.  There seemed to be an acceleration of her disease in Yellowstone, and I was afraid they wouldn't have enough time together.

 

I really loved this book. . . loved everything about it.  The gathering at Mary's retirement, and especially the one at the river with all of those who loved her best were present, were really beautiful and shows the depth of the relationships she had with these people.  She was a very much loved individual. . .I loved her.  I loved her and Cobb's relationship, and the way the book was written just drew me in to their story in a way that made me feel as though I were a witness to their love.

 

I thot the transition back to the campfire was seamless. . .it seemed and felt perfect to me.  Knowing at the beginning how it ended, drew me in to the story. . .I wanted to know what happened and how it happened.

 

A beautiful story and book.  I loved it. . .every page, every word. 

 

Thank you for letting me participate.  A wonderful experience.

Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house.
~ Henry Ward Beecher ~
Inspired Contributor
nymazz
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎09-14-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Eternal on the Water, Final Chapters and Whole Novel


 

During these final chapters, we get a time-lapse sequence of Cobb and Mary together with their friends over the last few years of Marys life. What was the effect of this kind of higher-speed story-telling at the end of the novel? Did you feel you had time to acclimate yourself to Marys deterioration when some small details of it were given mostly as brief interruptions in the larger motion of daily life, family, seasons, and friends?

 

I didn't mind the fast-forward at all, in fact I was relieved to read that they actually had 'years' together, I was afraid it was going to be a very short time from when they met to when Mary died. I believe we were already prepared for Marys decline from the first chapter so I thought the time-line worked just fine.

 

 

 

 

Did you marvel at the number of people who show up for each of these goodbyes? How do her friends' actions at this time show their own characters, or reveal how each of them related to Mary?

 

 

 

How do you think so many of their friends could support Marys assisted suicide? Who among them is most reluctant to let her go? Were you surprised to see the Chungamunga girls on the river?

I think they respected her decision to go on her own terms.  I wasn't surprised to see the Chungamunga girls, it was a fitting tribute from the girls, Mary gave them so much.

 

Is this a happy or a sad ending, for you? Now that you've finished the novel, what do you think the effect of knowing the ending had on your reading?

Oh, definitely a sad ending for me, I was actually hoping that since we already knew the out come the end wouldn't be so heartbreaking, I was wrong, especially Mary turned and told Cobb 'it's time', lets just say I was glad I was alone at home reading at the time.

 

 


 

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are. -Mason Cooley-
Contributor
pattycakeMN
Posts: 24
Registered: ‎08-31-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Eternal on the Water, Final Chapters and Whole Novel

Were you surprised to find yourself back with the ranger, Sarah at the end? What's the effect of enclosing the whole story within this scene at the campsite with the ranger near Mary's body?

 

 

I was not surprised to find Sarah at the end of the book.  I believe the author wanted to tie the beginning and the end together.  It did suprise me how Cobb seemed to again immediately bond with a woman, somewhat the same way he immediately bonded with Mary.

 

I really loved the book.  I especially liked the author's way of looking at a person or place and mentioning little details - when we talk to people or see things we think details in our heads, but most author's do not put them down in print.

 

GREAT BOOK - THANK YOU for choosing it as a book club selection !!

Correspondent
LadyMin
Posts: 51
Registered: ‎11-29-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Eternal on the Water, Final Chapters and Whole Novel

I thought the ending of the book was very well done. The time-lapse sequence was appropriate. Lingering over detail at this point was not necessary to the story and would have only dragged out the sadness as Mary began to decline.

 

I was both happy and sad. Cobb knew he had to let go, but there was much sadness in realizing that his time with Mary was ending. Everyone's time with Mary had come to a close which made for some rather teary reading. At the same time I was happy that Mary was able to live her life the way she wanted and end her life on her terms. And also happy that everyone respected her decision and supported both her and Cobb.

 

I was not surprised to find the story returned full circle back to ranger at the end. I expected it. A story within a story. Closure for everyone.

Frequent Contributor
momoftwinsMM
Posts: 31
Registered: ‎06-11-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Eternal on the Water, Final Chapters and Whole Novel

Did you marvel at the number of people who show up for each of these goodbyes? How do her friends' actions at this time show their own characters, or reveal how each of them related to Mary?

 

Throughout the novel, we saw how people were drawn to Mary, so I was not surpirsed by the number of people who showed up to say goodbye. However, it says alot about the kind of people Mary surrounded herself with. These people were compassionate, and allowed their love for their friend/sister/daughter/wife trump any disagreement they may have with their decision. This is the kind of love that we can only hope for, where people can choose to continue to love and respect the individual even if they do not agree with their decisions.

 

Is this a happy or a sad ending, for you? Now that you've finished the novel, what do you think the effect of knowing the ending had on your reading?

 

I felt very sad to let Mary, and her relationship with Cobb go. I don't even know how old they were in the end (approx 40?). How terrible to have to end such a beautiful love (Mary and Cobb) and life (Mary) at some a young age.

 

Were you surprised to find yourself back with the ranger, Sarah at the end? What's the effect of enclosing the whole story within this scene at the campsite with the ranger near Mary's body?

 

I was captivated by the story to the point that I forgot all about the ranger, until we were back with her. I don't know if it was the ending that I would write (but I'm not an author), but it was effective in reminding us about where we started and how far we have come.

Correspondent
retromom
Posts: 113
Registered: ‎02-02-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Eternal on the Water, Final Chapters and Whole Novel

I thought the ending was very appropriate after learning how horrible Huntington's is on the body and mind of those afflicted with it. I think Mary wanted to take control over this horrible disease and this is the only way she could. I felt as though Mary had won in the end not Huntington's. This story has made me think of assisted suicide in a whole new light. It made me see things through Mary and Cobb's eyes.

 

I thought the book was wonderful and came full circle. I wasn't surprised at all that we ended up back with the ranger. I really liked all the transitions in the book. The story flowed well. I was glad to see Mary and Cobb had a few years together and not just a few months. I was worried when the book was moving quickly that they wouldn't have much time together. I thought the ending was perfect for the story.

 

Thanks again for allowing us to read this great book.

 

 

Beth

http://bookaholicmom.blogspot.com/
Correspondent
bookowlie
Posts: 177
Registered: ‎04-15-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Eternal on the Water, Final Chapters and Whole Novel

[ Edited ]

I didn't mind the time lapse over the final years of Mary's life.  At the beginning of the book, I thought she might have very little time left so I was glad to read that Mary and Cobb had more time together than I originally expected.

It was a little startling to see how many people supported Mary's assisted suicide.  I guess it's just something I haven't been exposed to and it was a bit unnerving to read about it.  I wasn't surprised to see the Chungamunga girls on the river. It was in keeping with their connection to each other.  I think it was hardest for Freddy and Cobb to let her go.  This whole section was so heartbreaking for me to read.

It was a little hard for me to know of Mary's death right at the beginning of the novel.  Although it was an attention-grabber, it was sad for me to read about Mary and Cobb's relationship, already knowing that she would eventually die.  For me, it was a sad, although moving ending.

I wasn't at all surprised to see Sarah the ranger at the end of the book.  It tied the beginning and ending of the book together and the feeling of Mary's spirit being one with nature.

Inspired Contributor
Zia01
Posts: 187
Registered: ‎08-08-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Eternal on the Water, Final Chapters and Whole Novel

During these final chapters, we get a time-lapse sequence of Cobb and Mary together with their friends over the last few years of Mary's life. What was the effect of this kind of higher-speed story-telling at the end of the novel? Did you feel you had time to acclimate yourself to Mary's deterioration when some small details of it were given mostly as brief interruptions in the larger motion of daily life, family, seasons, and friends? I did feel that way a bit but I understood why he had to write it like that. I liked that he gave us small glimpses of the passing years and didn't just go from one chapter to several years later.

 

 

Did you marvel at the number of people who show up for each of these goodbyes?  Nope. Mary was well loved and it was apparent all the way through out the book.

 

 

Is this a happy or a sad ending, for you? Now that you've finished the novel, what do you think the effect of knowing the ending had on your reading? The ending was a mixed bag for me, I cried through the last pages and yet it seemed to end the way it was supposed to.

 

Were you surprised to find yourself back with the ranger, Sarah at the end? What's the effect of enclosing the whole story within this scene at the campsite with the ranger near Mary's body? I wasn't surprised at all finding myself back with the ranger. The book started out that way with Cobb sharing his and Mary's story, so it's appropriate for it to end that way also.

Contributor
sailorreader
Posts: 22
Registered: ‎02-08-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Eternal on the Water, Final Chapters and Whole Novel

I felt the last few chapters "made the book"

 

The beginning of the story set the stage for the ending but the "life's journey" throughout the book built on the friendship and love of Mary with everyone else.

 

I was surprised to see how much Mary had changed at the end.  I was hopeful (from the beginning story with the ranger) that Mary was beyond "just ill" and that she was at the end.  I guess I was surprised at what the end really was.

 

I could imagine the remorse and love that was involved in letting Mary go. 

 

Although I initially wondered if this book was just "corney" and would not carry much substance, I must say that the ending and the emotion created at the end "sold the book" for me.

 

It was a good summer read and have told others about it.

 

I am still not believe the Chungamunga girl's but understand the role they created in this novel.

I

sailorreader
Contributor
ALBSPM
Posts: 8
Registered: ‎11-03-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Eternal on the Water, Final Chapters and Whole Novel

Books rarely move me to real tears but Monniger's description of Mary's final day/hour was one of the most heart wrenching visuals I can remember.  A truly beautiful ending to a wonderful book