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rosia408
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Registered: ‎12-01-2009

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


Rachel-K wrote:

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?


 

Oh my goodness, I cried most of the way throiugh this last part of the book! As for the story moving along so quickly, I don't know if I could have stood it taking too long. It was just so heart breaking as it was.

 

It was so sad to see the deterioration of Mary from her retirement to her good-by to her family and close friends. It was just so obvious that it was time for her to let go of this life with what little dignity she had left.

 

I can only imagine the strength and love that it must take to help someone that you love die in the manner that they choose. I have had the conversation with my own family about not wanting to live if it was only on machines with no quality of life, yet it all seems so surreal, like it will only happen to other people. The possiblility the it will happen was brought so much closer reading this part of the book. Mary's family showed so much courage and strength! I am sure they would all rather have her disease free but are all dealing with the reality and honoring her wishes and with courage.

 

Yes I was surprised to see the Chungamunga girls on the river, but it was a pleasant surprise. I was wondering if this is a ritual that happens whenever one of them dies.

 

Even though I knew she would die, it was still a bittersweet ending. I wanted so much for some miracle to happen and for her to go into remission. It must be the romantic in me.

 

I am not really sure how I felt about that ranger. She seemed a bit superfluous to me.

 

 

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coffee_luvr
Posts: 171
Registered: ‎10-29-2009
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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?

 

During the final chapters I thought the acceleration of the story worked.  I could see "pictures" of their life as it progressed and I really liked how the author highlighted significant events along with everyday and gave the reader a snapshot of how Mary and Cobb progressed thru the years.  I thought it was perfect.

 

 

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 have no idea how so many could be involved in the final trip to the river.  I had such a hard time with the topic and also the amount of people that were involved in it.   I just could not wrap my head around this at all.   It was morbid to me; all those people spending the night and eating and drinking......I just could not come to grips with it.  I think I could have grasped it better if it would have been just Mary and Cobb the whole time and not just at the very last.  All the other characters participating was too strange for me.

 

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?

 

To me, it was a sad, sad ending.  Knowing that Mary dies on the river at the beginning of the book doesn't change the impact of the actual ending for me.  I was thinking at the start of the book that Mary possibly went off by herself with Cobb's knowledge,  but she intentionally did not take precautions.  To find out at the end that it was more of a group event was quite different than I expected. 

 

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 thought it was a good way to come full circle in the story.  


 

 

Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. ~Barbara Tuchman
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Teddyree
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Re: Eternal on the Water, Final Chapters and Whole Novel

I finished EOTW 2 weeks ago and I've thought about it a lot since, the beauty of the story, the love and passion for living has stayed with me.

 

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 liked the "snapshot" look at the last few years, almost like a movie playing. I thought it was in keeping with Mary's philosophy on life, the story didn't concentrate on all the minute and horrific details of the disease, the disease was part of their life but not life itself.

 

Did you marvel at the number of people who show up for each of these goodbyes?  Not at all. Mary touched many peoples lives and was loved by many.

 

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?

 

When you love someone who is suffering, who will ultimately die in the most undignified manner, almost unrecognisable from the person they used to be it is a little easier to respect their wishes to die with dignity, with some of their 'self' remaining. It doesnt lessen the grief but makes the choices understandable.

I expected the Chungamunga girls to be there to see Mary off.

 

 

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 cried buckets at the ending, it was very sad but a good sad and beautifully written. I found knowing the ending and seeing the end play two completely different things, one didn't affect the other ... the how, the why, and the emotions were so much more than just knowing.

 

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 got a surprise being back at the ranger, not because it wasn't fitting, but because I became so immersed in Cobb & Mary's story that I kind of forgot about where Cobb was in the beginning.

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Deltadawn
Posts: 311
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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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 felt that the higher speed story telling at the end of the novel was completely appropriate . It gave the effect of the passage of time.. as a result, I did feel that I had time to acclimate to Mary's deterioration

 

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 was not surprised that there was such a large turnout for Mary at each of her goodbyes. She was a person who made a huge impact on those around her.  The people who showed up truly loved and supported her and wanted to convey this to her.

 

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 agree with the others who have posted here that probably everyone was reluctant to let her go. She was so beloved by all of her friends and family. Unfortunately, they had no choice but to let her go - and they demonstrated their support and love for her by being there to say goodbye at the end (whether they agreed with her decision or not.) I was suprised and I wasn't suprised at the same time, to see the Chungamunga girls on the river. It was a very moving scene.

 

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?

 

This is a very sad ending. Lots of tissues and tears.

 

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 at all to find myself back with the ranger, Sarah, at the end of the novel. It is the framework that Joe used in telling this beautiful story.


 

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


BookWoman718 wrote:

Carmenere_lady wrote:

Rachel-K wrote:

 

 

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?  They respect who she is, she has told them about her fathers last days and his suffering and they understand her reasons for her decision.  I'm not sure who the most reluctant person was.  Although the scene with the Chungamunga's is touching and beautiful I hope they don't get the message that it is always ok to end your life on your own terms in your own way.  Everybody's situation is different and what may be right for Mary may not be for the other girls.  And these are girls of various ages.  Sort of hard for the younger ones ot fully understand.

 

 


 I agree with conflicted feelings about the presence of the Chungamunga girls;  it was, as mentioned above "touching and beautiful"  but I wonder that such a visit could easily be arranged.   Surely the girls' parents might have different feelings about someone taking one's own life, even in the face of debilitating illness.   If some of us adult readers are uncomfortable with the idea, then how much more so might we  be with our young daughters who might be swayed by the romanticism of the whole event into a wish to duplicate the emotion when things got tough for them?    Personally, I have full acceptance of Mary's decision and if I were her friend I would support her in any way I could, including being there to bear witness and say a final good-bye.  But I would not bring an impressionable child anywhere close to that situation.  


 

I don't think the Chungamunga Girls were the young ones.  I got the feeling that these were alumni adults who were coming back to acknowledge Mary and her situation.

MG

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

 

I liked the framing device of Cobb telling the story to Ranger Sarah.  This gives the story a nice structure, and with Cobb telling the story of his life with Mary we can understand the narrator and his perspective.  He is analyzing his own life with Mary as he tells the story.

 

There is tremendous sadness in the ending, but also joy in the way Mary lived her life, the way Mary and Cobb lived their life together -- I don't think they would have had such joy without the shadow of Huntington's.  How much in our lives do we put off until "later" -- they knew they couldn't do that, so their life together had a special richness.

 

Knowing the ending was important for the reader because this novel isn't about how-will-it-end; even the characters in the story know how the story will end.  The novel is was about how the end shapes the characters and the way they chose to live.

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

I am always amazed at how a great author can write the ending at the beginning and still keep the reader so engrossed, even when the reader is aware of the outcome. the heartwarming way Mary chooses to say goodbye and those she loves to her brought many emotions.  I felt that I became a part of the lives that Mary and Cobb had been building together and preparing to spend apart. They were friends that I hated to say goodbye to. I can only hope that those whose lives I may have touched will have such heartwarming sentiments as Mary's friends have for her. Mary's choice to live her life on her own terms, in her own way is a lesson to all of us. In fact the concept of the Chungamunga Girls and all that they stood for is a lesson many could learn from. Wonderful, touching book that I feel privelaged to have been able to read.

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

I loved this story, tragic as it may be. I thought that the ending was beautiful. The way that her family and friends supported her decision to leave this life when she had reached a point where the quality of life was lacking and she was becoming more of a "burden" to those she loved.

 

I enjoyed the levity and joy of the retirement party. It was really a celebration of her life. This was a contrast to the goodbye at the campsite. This was more somber-- the final goodbye, full of love, gratitude and respect. Don't most of us wish that we would have the chance to say "goodbye" like this when the end came? Yet few of us have this opportunity.

 

The most difficult moment in the book for me was when she tells Cobb that it's time, and he breaks down. It is his moment of vulnerable denial and then acceptance. After that, he is strong and fulfills the promise that he made to her to let her go when the time came.

 

And Mary returned to the river and the crows-- just as it was meant to be.


Heather
http://cerebralgirl.blogspot.com/
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BDonnelly
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Re: Eternal on the Water, Final Chapters and Whole Novel

I was very suprised to be back with the camp ranger at the end of the story.  I actually went to the beginning of the book to find out who she was.  I knew at the end that Mary would die but couldn't remember how I knew until I reread the beginning.  That made me realize how I selectively remembered the beginning. 

 

I thought the ending was both sad and happy.  Mary left this earth with grace and didgnity.  She didn't want to live the kind of life she would have been facing if she had not made that choice.  But it was really sad for me because that was the end of the book and I loved this book so much.  I will definitely read more by Mr. Moninger.

 

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skiibunny1213
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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?

 

The high speed storytelling was very effective to me because I kept thinking, "Slow down!  Time is going too fast!  They won't have much longer together now, oh no!"  I feel like this gave me the same sort of emotions that Cobb must have felt.  Feeling time slip through his fingers and knowing the end of his time with Mary was drawing nearer each day.

 

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 sad ending for me, and I wish Mary had told us how many days total she had lived until her last day.  It seemed like the day count got less important over time - maybe because she couldn't remember it anymore.  Knowing the ending throughout the book made me appreciate every moment Cobb and Mary had together even more.

 

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? It was strange to be brought back to the "present" after Mary dies.  I'm not sure it gave me closure, and I'm not sure I wouldn't rather have had the ending place Cobb with John and Annie and his loved ones.  However it is profound for him to not be around them because it emphasizes the aloneness/emptiness he must have felt in the days after her death. 


 

 

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photogirlMO
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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 have to say, this was one part of the book that felt very dissonant for me. I was enjoying the progression of the book and then there was this warp speed, fast forward through several years. Mary and Cobb only had a few years together anyway. I felt a little cheated that most of those years together were condensed to a few paragraphs. And I don't think the story only happened before and after those years either- there were many plot points that could have been explored during that time period that were just glossed over.

 

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?

 

It wasn't so far fetched that so many people showed up to say goodbye to Mary. I mean, most people have their friends and relatives over for birthday parties, so of course everyone would make it to say goodbye to someone they loved.

 

How do you think so many of their friends could support Mary's assisted suicide?

 

Well, because she told them this was her choice from the beginning, so by the time it really came around, they loved her enough to want to respect her choice. I am not an advocate of suicide by ANY means, however I found that by the end, I not only understood and respected her decision, but I came to view it as brave. I can't see any person who was part of someone like Mary's life could feel otherwise or not support her decision.

 

Were you surprised to see the Chungamunga girls on the river?

 

No, I wasn't suprised, I expected them. However, despite my expectations that it would happen, it was by far my FAVORITE scene in the whole book! I sobbed- it was so beautiful and I hope that there really is such an organization out with incredible people like that. Ugh, it's choking me up a little right now thinking of it...

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lisabalf
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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?

 

At first this felt too fast but once I got into the pacing it seemed natural.  Kind of how time sometimes feels accelerated. 

 

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?

 

For it didn't really feel like there were so many people who showed up to say goodbye.  Both Mary and Cobb seemed to have a very wide circle of close friends.  We should all be so lucky. 

 

It was beautifully written how each own person had their own way of saying good bye.

 

How do you think so many of their friends could support Mary's assisted suicide?

 

I believe that if you love someone that much you will do what they wish no matter how hard it will seem. 

 

Were you surprised to see the Chungamunga girls on the river?

 

Not at all, it was simply a beautiful moment for them to show up. 

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boadiccea
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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?

 

At first it seemed a little fast but then I got used to it, and realized that to the characters it must have seemed like time was going by too quickly, careening towards the inevitable end...and I was ok with the details of Mary's illness being small interludes rather than the main focus.  The illness was never a character in this book -- Mary made sure of that. I'd rather we focus on the characters and how they lives their lives and give the disease eactly as much credence as Mary did as we fast-forward through their lifves.

 

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?

 

Not at all.  It was clear from the start that Mary was a special kind of person, who had touched many lives. The way that all of them came out to say their goodbyes, each in their own way, was so touching, I had to get out the box of kleenex.
 

How do you think so many of their friends could support Mary's assisted suicide?

 

I think they all respect Mary, the choices she had made about her disease throughout her life, and continued to respect her right through to the end.  That we should all be blessed to have such true friends, right?

 

 

Were you surprised to see the Chungamunga girls on the river?

 

Nope, it seemed a fitting goodbye for the Chungamunga girls to give.  Mary is, after all, a Chungamunga girl, and Eternal on the river herself.

 

 

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 kind of both. Bittersweet is the word, I think.  I think it was an absolutely beautiful ending! I don't know how Cobb had the fortitude to go through with it all.  I hate goodbyes, and yet they are absolutely necessary, or else you'll have regrets. 

 

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

I actually really enjoyed the time-lapse sequence of those years. They are true to life. Life moves over the years that way. I realize I am way behind everyone else in posting but life has been moving here too. My 24th anniversary was yesterday. This part of the book seemed very much like my husband and I looking back over our years together. "Time Passing. A TRIANGLE LIFE OF work, love, family."

 

I thought the ending gatherings were poignant. Mary was the kind of person to draw many people into her life in a very deep way. Empathy, gratitude, and compassion reflected in the characters of those people who showed up to say goodbye. They were strong for Mary because she was so often strong for them. Mary appreciated people and that was reflected back to her at the end.

 

Mary and Cobb's friends had great respect and love for Mary. This was her wish, love conquers all. They followed through because they loved her. I believe her mother was the most reluctant. She didn't hesitate to go with the situation but she struggled to be ready. Her late arrival and inability to sleep reflect her struggle to let Mary go. I was not surprised that the Chungamunga girls showed up. Above everyone else they understand what Mary is going through.

 

It was both happy and sad. I was glad that Cobb could tell his story and that he was going to be safe from prosecution. It was sad to see Mary go, a beautiful scene, but the end was also a celebration of her life and what she gave each person she touched. I watched my father in law pass and it was the same: very beautiful and sad. We laughed and cried. We loved him.

 

I think that knowing from the beginning of the novel that she would die helped me to grasp the beauty of the ending. It also helped me to focus more on the depth that the author was trying to relay in Mary's character in a small amount of time. It definitely enhanced the story.

 

The full circle. The circle of life, the circle of love, the circle of family. Life moves in circles. We end were we began.

 

 

Deb
booknook516.blogspot.com

simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought
william hazlitt
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HannibalCat
Posts: 238
Registered: ‎10-25-2006
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Re: Eternal on the Water, Final Chapters and Whole Novel

Well said.

I too enjoyed the time-lapse. I thought the story was the way they met, and not her death. Death is inevitible in any story, their story was of life, and hope even in the face of fierce difficulties. The love of these two people and their families and friends was uplifting and fun to see through his eyes.

I enjoyed this book and hope to see more from Monninger.

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

Hi,

 

Although I am glad Mary got to die her way and not the disease's way, I really felt myself worrying for Cobb.  I wondered if the ranger was going to turn him in?  Or perhaps, any one of the other witnesses could do so also.  Perhaps someone else will mention what happened and Cobb could be arrested.  Isn't it something that will always worry him. 

 

Also, we never really get Cobb's perspective on this.  Yes, he promises Mary, but is it something he agreed with completely?

 

I especially enjoyed the way the story was told in retrospect.  In a way, Cobb telling the ranger what happened was a lot like Mary telling all those stories about the corvids.  It had a magical quality to it which is was kept me reading page after page.

 

I agree with one person somewhere on these threads that the story was a little too perfect.  Everyone just got along wonderfully and there were no conflicts anywhere.  I would like to have had one character who disagreed with Mary, just a little, at least.  But then again, maybe that's why the story was so magical.

 

goingeast