Reply
Frequent Contributor
fordmg
Posts: 546
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Francis

I had a little trouble with Francis's character.  I liked that part he played in the story, but I don't feel he was developed enough.  The early part, the middle, and then all of a sudden he is a responsible part of society.  I don't see how he over came the suicide pack with his friends.  The only hint is Mary holding up the phone and saying, "Listen to the Wolves".  Then to have him there when Mary voluntarily ends her life, seems to be a disconnect.  I understand that the situations are different, but there seems to be a void in Francis's character development.

MG

Inspired Contributor
tweezle
Posts: 75
Registered: ‎11-03-2009

Re: Francis

....then all of a sudden he is a responsible part of society.  I don't see how he over came the suicide pack with his friends.

 

I have to agree with fordmg on this point. It seemed like such a drastic change, but maybe the wolves played a part, but there was no addressing the issue of suicide again. I would have thought that Francis would have had a stuggle with Mary's disease, or an issue somewhere, but nothing was addressed. Mary's suicide should have rattled him, but with the time that passed from when she first showed signs, he may have grown.

“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” - Mason Cooley
**3 NOOKS with 3 separate accounts in one household.**
Distinguished Correspondent
Bonnie_C
Posts: 168
Registered: ‎08-07-2009

Re: Francis

I think Francis is a character that is deserving of an entire book being written about him alone.

 

 

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

Re: Francis

St. Paul must be a very difficult place for Francis. He feels out of place. He comes from a difficult background and he is in a completely different environment than he is used to.

 

The piccolo surprised me! In the beginning, I would have never imagined Francis playing the piccolo! I was also surprised by his interest in antiquing.

 

He fits in very well with Mary, Cobb, and the other members of their family. We get to see how bright Francis really is when he is with them.

 

The suicide pact is a very difficult situation. I'm not sure why his friends carried through with the suicides, but I think that maybe life was horrible for them. What other reason could there be? Francis feels like he is betraying his friends by not following through with suicide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspired Bibliophile
thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Francis

 


Rachel-K wrote:

In what ways is St. Paul a place as out of the ordinary for Francis as the Allagash or Indonesia is for Cobb and Mary?

 

St. Paul provides Francis with an opportunity to enter the mainstream and make his life more productive.  Both Indonesia and the Allagash provide Mary and Cobb with the opportunity to create a new productive life. The settings created their futures.

 

 

 


 

 

 

Inspired Contributor
sifu-hotman
Posts: 91
Registered: ‎07-24-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Francis

[ Edited ]

PB684 wrote:

I was just over at the "reviews" link and read a review written by someone who wasn't very impressed with this book. While I will not go into the many reasons why I disagree with him/her I just wanted to say that I completely disagree with the comments regarding Francis. He/she stated that "no student would ever be like that with a teacher". I can say from personal experience that is completely untrue! When I was in High School we had a history teacher who always went out of his way to help students both in and out of the classroom. Like Cobb, he was very much a "nature buff" and took many groups of students on hikes, canoeing, bird watching, etc. mostly on his days off. His classroom was always open to anyone with a free period who wanted to talk or just sit quietly. He inspired so many of us to love nature and to do for others. He and his wonderful wife had an "open door policy" at their home as well. Anyone who didn't have a place to go for Thanksgiving always had a standing invitation at their house and you always felt like you were part of their family...much like Mary and Cobb!

Eventhough I graduated many years ago I still saw these wonderful people at least once a year. Two summers ago I found out that he had been killed in an accident and I was devastated. I can't tell you how many of his former students attended his funeral. It was like a High School reunion with everyone crying and singing his many praises. Thank you to Joseph Monninger for creating a relationship like Cobb's and Francis'...yes it does exist in reality!

Paula


 

I'm guessing that's my review you're talking about :smileytongue:
I should have been more specific, cause obviously I'm wrong about there not being teachers who are like that in real like (sadly, I never met any personally).
what rubbed me the wrong way when reading those scenes, involving Francis was Cobb's mindset, like he could do no wrong, he never seemed to doubt himself, or that maybe a student wouldn't want what he was offering him, and Francis was so yielding. Even though, like you've described there are people who are like that, there still should have been more there, more dialog. I wanted to feel the bond the author kept describing, but I just didn't. I was more referring to the way the author went about doing it all then the situation itself.
There was a similar thing, in a different book I've read, another teacher-student bond which I did like and was envious of, but it was done over a longer stretch of time and came about more subtly; I could feel it happening.
Distinguished Correspondent
PB684
Posts: 182
Registered: ‎08-03-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Francis


sifu-hotman wrote:

PB684 wrote:

I was just over at the "reviews" link and read a review written by someone who wasn't very impressed with this book. While I will not go into the many reasons why I disagree with him/her I just wanted to say that I completely disagree with the comments regarding Francis. He/she stated that "no student would ever be like that with a teacher". I can say from personal experience that is completely untrue! When I was in High School we had a history teacher who always went out of his way to help students both in and out of the classroom. Like Cobb, he was very much a "nature buff" and took many groups of students on hikes, canoeing, bird watching, etc. mostly on his days off. His classroom was always open to anyone with a free period who wanted to talk or just sit quietly. He inspired so many of us to love nature and to do for others. He and his wonderful wife had an "open door policy" at their home as well. Anyone who didn't have a place to go for Thanksgiving always had a standing invitation at their house and you always felt like you were part of their family...much like Mary and Cobb!

Eventhough I graduated many years ago I still saw these wonderful people at least once a year. Two summers ago I found out that he had been killed in an accident and I was devastated. I can't tell you how many of his former students attended his funeral. It was like a High School reunion with everyone crying and singing his many praises. Thank you to Joseph Monninger for creating a relationship like Cobb's and Francis'...yes it does exist in reality!

Paula


 

I'm guessing that's my review you're talking about :smileytongue:
I should have been more specific, cause obviously I'm wrong about there not being teachers who are like that in real like (sadly, I never met any personally).
what rubbed me the wrong way when reading those scenes, involving Francis was Cobb's mindset, like he could do no wrong, he never seemed to doubt himself, or that maybe a student wouldn't want what he was offering him, and Francis was so yielding. Even though, like you've described there are people who are like that, there still should have been more there, more dialog. I wanted to feel the bond the author kept describing, but I just didn't. I was more referring to the way the author went about doing it all then the situation itself.
There was a similar thing, in a different book I've read, another teacher-student bond which I did like and was envious of, but it was done over a longer stretch of time and came about more subtly; I could feel it happening.

 

Ok, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree! I think that Cobb did doubt himself otherwise why would Mary have had to convince him to intervene in some instances? I'm sorry that you never had that kind of experience with a teacher...it stays with you for a lifetime:smileyhappy:

Paula

PB684
Inspired Bibliophile
thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007

Re: Francis

I am not sure that a close relationship between a male teacher and a male student would be tolerated that well in today's climate. Teachers can't even hug children in nursery school without fear of some kind of accusation. We have become an angry society and rarely give people the benefit of the doubt, but rather we rush into suspicions about behavior first. I wish it were not so. When I was a teacher, many moons ago, times were different. You could visit student's homes and they could visit yours, more freely than I think is possible today.

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

Re: Francis

I imagine the prep school environment is alien to most of us. Because the school functions as a student's home, a close relationship with a student would seem both more natural and more intimate?

 

Also think the point about Francis not fitting in anywhere because of his IQ is a good one. Not much of a real measurement, perhaps, but it does set him outside of "ordinary" no matter where he is.  Being a bit of an outsider is his normal.

 

This question may need to wait until next week, but the point about Francis being close to two very different "suicide pacts" is fascinating. How can such a young person emotionally or intellectually understand the two situations?

 

 

Contributor
emers0207
Posts: 18
Registered: ‎07-29-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Francis

I really enjoyed the character of Francis.  I think he was a wonderful supporting character and like all good supporting characters you learn more about the main characters personalities by their interactions with him. 

I have to agree with many of the others here who said that the teacher relationship was very much based in reality.  I have been lucky enough to a few teachers like this and they truly do care about the students and strive to be there for them.  I think this was a great addition to the story and really made it come alive for me. 

Contributor
Coffeenut
Posts: 16
Registered: ‎12-01-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Francis


Bonnie_C wrote:

I think Francis is a character that is deserving of an entire book being written about him alone.

 

 


 

I completely agree with you there....you never know, maybe we will get a sequel but with Francis as the main character. I'd like to see how he turns out. (Hint-Hint Joseph :smileywink: )

Me :smileyhappy:
Inspired Bibliophile
Vermontcozy
Posts: 5,276
Registered: ‎10-20-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Francis

I am concerned about Francis.he could fall between the cracks,if his direction is not in focus.he is like so many uber intelligent inner city kids,who have no one to bring that out in them..Cobb..It will be a solitary life I believe..He will teach,love what he is doing now as Dean of Students..If he goes every year as an instructor with the "Girls",I am hoping Francis will join him,and play the Piccolo for Mary,by the Allergash.Another book would be a joy..To write another tightly woven novel,I cannot imagine  the time and energy it must take.Vtc  Susan

Kindness,I've discovered,is everything in life...Issac Bashevis Singer
Correspondent
ssizemore
Posts: 70
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Francis

I agree with Delta Dawn!  Francis is not only an interesting character, but he brings to light another view of life and death.  The suicide pact between Mary and Cobb is shown as one that is based on the relief of suffering, while the one Francis makes is merely a teenage "game".   The book brings up all kinds of thoughts about life and death and especially about the sanctity of life.  I can see all kinds of discussions in a book club regarding these issues.  It would be based on varying  backgrounds and beliefs and would be very thought provoking.  As we had a terrible suicide in our neighborhood two days ago, all of the feelings that I had in reading the book have been magnified.  Indeed it is a personal decision made by Cobb and Mary in what they consider to be her best interest, unlike the one we experienced this week which seemed to be from a feeling of the futility of his life.  So sad.  Just another lesson in how literature puts so many ideas in perspective and creates new food for thought for the reader.  Sandy
Deltadawn wrote:

I agree with the many others -- Francis  is also my favorite supporting character in the book. I love the way Cobb and Mary reached out to him and how he responded to their overtures of friendship. It was wonderful to see the friendships evolve.

Francis was a gifted person who had been involved in very difficult situations - the most pressing is the suicide pact with his two friends from back home.

He did not feel that he fit in at the prep school-but his relationship with Mary and Cobb (and surely his mother's love for him) helped him to overcome his feelings of alienation and possible despair.

I appreciated the juxtaposition of the suicide pact between him and his friends with the "suicide pact" between Cobb and Mary - these were complete opposites - one was out of hopelessness and a disregard for life, and the other was born from the characters' reverence for the dignity of a human life. I've never really been able to wrap my mind & heart around "assisted suicide" though I understand the reasoning behind those who advocate for it. The way it is presented in this story makes me pause and think. Upon finishing Eternal on the Water, I have really reflected upon the book. It is a beautiful story - a wonderful selection for this group.


 

Correspondent
nicole21WA
Posts: 79
Registered: ‎03-22-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Francis

 


thewanderingjew wrote:

I am not sure that a close relationship between a male teacher and a male student would be tolerated that well in today's climate. Teachers can't even hug children in nursery school without fear of some kind of accusation. We have become an angry society and rarely give people the benefit of the doubt, but rather we rush into suspicions about behavior first. I wish it were not so. When I was a teacher, many moons ago, times were different. You could visit student's homes and they could visit yours, more freely than I think is possible today.


 

I completely agree.  I think some of the people here citing close relationships between teacher and student haven't been in school for quite a while.  Cobb is probably able to be closer to his students than most of today's teachers because it is a residential private school, but it still borders on unbelievable.  Even Hallowen kept saying that it really wasn't appropriate, which (to me) showed that the author at least in some way recognizes that this situation wouldn't really happen.  I do think the school would encourage Cobb to mentor a struggling student, but it would also be required that they meet in school-sanctioned ways in order to avoid scrutiny and lawsuits.  Even if Francis and his mom are ok with the situation, other students would surely be making accusations of favoritism.

 

Frequent Contributor
mrsareads
Posts: 29
Registered: ‎12-02-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Francis

As I read this response about Francis - it made me realize that Cobb was advising Francis as to why he did not need to keep his promise while Cobb was struggling with the reality of having to keep his to Mary. This is an interesting connection that I hadn't thought of as I was reading the book. It makes you wonder why one promise is ok to break, but another is too sacred to even think about breaking.

Frequent Contributor
Sheltiemama
Posts: 107
Registered: ‎06-01-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Francis

I didn't expect a kid from the inner city to play the piccolo beautifully! Nice touch. And I loved the scene where they're bidding against Martha Stewart.

 

Francis feels like a fish out of water and uncool in the eyes of his friends back home.

 

I think Francis' friends carried through with the pact because they couldn't see that their lives ever would get any better, while Francis has a chance. I was so glad to see he pulled through. And without giving anything away, in one scene, he made me cry. If you've finished the book, you know the one.

Frequent Contributor
Leeza14
Posts: 45
Registered: ‎12-01-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Francis

[ Edited ]

 


nfam wrote:

Francis is exactly the kind of intelligent outcast that would find a home with Mary and Cobb. They love their students, the out of doors and each other, but their love is big enough to encompass a boy who can't find his place. 

 

I thought Francis was an excellent character. He demonstrated the commitment Cobb and Mary had to their students. He symbolized hope. He could overcome his hereditary problems. Mary couldn't. He made an excellent counterpoint to the tragedy in the story.


 

You are right on the money, nfam.  This is perfectly stated.  He was Mary's opposite insofar as what he would be able to overcome that she would not.  He could overcome his circumstances if he chose to do so, but Mary couldn't.  They are both very uplifting characters.

 

Correspondent
nicole21WA
Posts: 79
Registered: ‎03-22-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Francis

I'm glad that things basically worked out for Francis as he turned out to be the only character I really cared about in this book.  I'm not yet sure what to make of Cobb thinking he had dressed as a bear.  I'll have to do more thinking on that.  The assumption struck me in an odd way that I'm not sure how exactly to express yet.  I'd love to hear what others thought.

Inspired Correspondent
jb70
Posts: 179
Registered: ‎07-06-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Francis

We heard a bit of Francis' background earlier in the novel, but he's a character we get to know in these middle chapters, as he grows into Cobb and Mary's circle of family and friends. What, if anything, surprises you about Francis' character when we get to meet him?  I was surprised by how into the bench at the auction he got, how he humored Mary and Joan and danced around during the bidding.

 

How would you describe him? How is he being disruptive at school? Do you see any of that behavior in his character while he is visiting with Cobb and Mary?  I think Francis feels very out of place at school.  He is very conscious of being different even though there is no mention of the other students doing anything to make him feel like he is not a part of the group.  He is disruptive by not completing assignments, sleeping in class and have a genrally bad attitude but while with Mary and Cobb he is respectful and present.

 

http://bookbookseverywhere.blogspot.com/
Wordsmith
babzilla41
Posts: 252
Registered: ‎05-04-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Francis


nicole21WA wrote:

I'm glad that things basically worked out for Francis as he turned out to be the only character I really cared about in this book.  I'm not yet sure what to make of Cobb thinking he had dressed as a bear.  I'll have to do more thinking on that.  The assumption struck me in an odd way that I'm not sure how exactly to express yet.  I'd love to hear what others thought.


 

I agree.  I really liked that Francis was coming through the woods playing the piccolo, but then dressing as a bear was a bit too much.  Plus, I didn't think the whole "bear" thing was ever really explained - maybe we're left to our own inferences.

 

I thought with Francis' character, and his struggle with the suicide pact, there was an opportunity to show him how much he had to live for, how there were other people (Mary) who were stuggling to survive - living life to the fullest even in the fact of death - and how it would be a dishonor to those who were fighting so hard to live if he were to take his own life knowing that he was healthy, talented, and had an opportunity to make his something of his life.  

"I love books. If I could eat them, I would. I love their scent and often put my nose in to inhale their aroma." - Kathleen Grissom