02-03-2010 06:44 PM
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?
Yes I did find the prep school environment more than a bit strange for me. Having taught in public schools for over 30 years, I cannot imagine having such a close relationship with a student. I usually learn so little about my students' personal lives. I find too that with adolescents I have had the experience to know in school, most of them grapple with the feelings of being an outsider, and not fitting in. I guess I am saying that for teens these feelings are not so unusual.
As for the suicide pacts, it made no sense to me how in his "teen" experience one could be so wrong and the other be ok. It didn't fit that he would understand Mary's situation so well, at least not at his age. I am in my 60's and even though I understand it intellectually, I still grapple with it emotionally.
02-10-2010 03:20 PM
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 he went to antiqing and showed an interest while there.
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?
He sounds very intelligent. It also sounds he's in a school so far from home he doesn't feel comfortable and maybe not letting himself reach his full potential while there. While with Mary and Cobb I see him comfortable and relaxed.
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?
They are both foreign, not home or close to it, different cultures in a sense
What is the nature of the "suicide pact" that Francis had been a part of at home? Why do you think his friends' carried through with it? What is the pull of it for Francis?
Francis has seemed to have the opportunity to further his education and has very supportive people who care for him in a great way. His childhood friendships with the pact we dont know those boys situations.
02-18-2010 01:44 AM
Unfortunately Francis' story is oh so true and sad. I was born in Philadelphia and certain parts are rough places to grow up. Luckily my parents moved us to the suburbs of NJ when I was about 13 which was wonderful because I think if I stayed i would have been a different person from the person I am today. The prep school for Francis is a far stretch for him because that is not what he is used too however it is a wonderful opportunity for him and will probably save his life. its like the saying goes "outta sight outta mind". for Francis to stay where he is would benefit him although his attitude shows another story. For kids like Francis being exposed to new ideas such as antiquing gives them a different perspective on life and enables them to see what there is to offer.
02-24-2010 08:41 PM
The pull of the "suicide pact" for Francis is a simple one- kids want to fit in. Many kids can't deal with adversity, so instead of looking to the future they feel that there is no way out. That is why he feels the draw to the pact that the rest of his friends had. He doesn't trust himself to think for himself and that he may be stronger than he gives himself credit for. I don't think him being part of Cobb and Mary's life is all that unusual. Everyone finds someone that they connect with and I think he connected with them because they were the steady force that he wished he had more of in his life.