06-09-2009 04:09 AM
I'm adding this before reading the other posts.
My curiosity for the excellent symbolism that Mr. Setiawan uses made me think to look up the possiblity of a metaphorical meaning for Ravenna's name. Perhaps the definitions for ravenous could be applied to her character. It may mirror her voracious need for anger and her starvation due to lack of love in her marriage.....(From dictionary.reference.com)
1. greedy, starved, devouring. Ravenous, ravening, voracious suggest a greediness for food and usually intense hunger. Ravenous implies extreme hunger, or a famished condition: ravenous wild beasts. Ravening adds the idea of fierceness and savagery, esp. as shown in a violent manner of acquiring food: ravening wolves. Voracious implies craving or eating a great deal of food: a voracious child; a voracious appetite. It may also be used figuratively: a voracious reader. 2. predatory.
06-09-2009 05:23 AM
Please describe your impressions of this extraordinary woman. Why does she cook more than her family can possibly eat? Cooking is often a sign of great domesticity--is this so for Ravenna?
It may be a symbol of domesticity but in a very dark way. Her constant food preparation is metaphorical for her inability to be sated. She is ravenous with hate, anger and revenge. This is probably why the author has used the name of Ravenna as a variation of ravenous.
What do you make of her relationship with her daughter? How do you see their relationship changing (if at all)?
She is too wrapped up in herself to have a real relationship with her Merida but that mother instinct runs deep. Every now and then she is jarred from her dark reverie to see that Merida exists.
What is her relationship with Gabriel like?
"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" - She will never let him forget his errors in judgment and she is going to stay around just to make sure that does not happen.
What is Ravenna's relationship with the house?
The house is a direct reflection of the coldness in Ravenna's heart. The mist is her inability or refusal to look forward from the past and see anything of the future. The mirrors are the reflection of the ghosts that haunt her grieved soul. The stretching staircase is the variation in her level of anger and her connection with reality.
06-09-2009 05:54 AM
Please describe your impressions of this extraordinary woman.
I wanted to add that I think the passage about Ravenna wrestling with the wind is symbolic for her attempted reconciliation. Wrestling with the wind is futile and it may be impossible for her to win against an enemy she can't see. Maybe the wind represents Gabriel's mistress.
06-09-2009 06:03 AM
thewanderingjew wrote:Ravenna is associated with the scent of lemon verbena. I discovered that another name for it is lemon beebrush. It prefers full sun, a lot of water, a light loam soil, and is sensitive to the cold.The house on Monarch Street is always cold and dreary. It does not seem to be a friend of Ravenna's but rather her enemy.I found it even more interesting that it is also called beebrush since Eva is associated with bees too.Lemon beebrush is described as having a relaxing scent. The buzzing bees associated with Eva create tension, to say the least.I wonder if the difference in the association of the word bee will prove to also be the difference in the two women's personalities. Ravenna seems to be able to to help Meridia while Eva tries to hurt her in subtle ways.
What is Ravenna's relationship with the house?
Very enlightening! Thanks for the info! One more reason to be on the lookout for Mr. Setaiwan's clever symbolisms!
06-09-2009 06:08 AM
There are many posts regarding Ravenna cooking.
I find it interesting that COOK means more than just to prepare food for a meal.
It can also mean:
happen: to be happening or developing --
I had the feeling that something was cooking.
be uncomfortable in heat: to feel extreme discomfort in hot conditions --
cooking in an overcrowded bus
change something in order to deceive: to alter or tamper with information or evidence fraudulently ( slang ) --
accountants who had cooked the books
work well: to be working or performing superbly ( slang ) --
It only took a couple of songs before the band was really cooking.
So, as many of us have commented already, the simple statement "Ravenna cooks" is not so simple a statement after all.
Much the same in Like Water for Chocolate, cooking is not just preparing the food. It can be an avenue, an outlet, a distraction, a releasing of emotions or impulses, a way to "say something" / express something you (strongly) feel but you can't or shouldn't say but you can't not!!! So Ravenna cooks!!!
Ravenna boils with anger & cooks up revenge?
Great info Ponie! Thanks for pointing that out!
06-09-2009 11:10 AM
I totally agree with your comment
"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" - She will never let him forget his errors in judgment and she is going to stay around just to make sure that does not happen."
Ravenna essentially is punishing everyone in the "family" for his mis-steps.
06-10-2009 09:19 AM
I agree with you that Ravenna compelled her daughter to live. Ravenna's actions in the kitchen are unnatural, but then again everything going on in the house seems to be unnatural.
I really appreciate the comment that Meridia is 'born dead.' I think that's exactly right. From the start Ravenna compels her daughter's survival and there is something in the image of the over abundant kitchen that is meant to demonstrate Ravenna hasn't lost the ability to love or provide -- it's just horribly misdirected. Instead of the nurturing 'heart of the home' kitchen, we get an out of control almost laboratory like kitchen. What was natural has become unnatural.
06-14-2009 01:02 AM
Wonderful comments in this thread! I love the sound-alike for ravenous. I also had to laugh at the proposal that Ravenna loves Gabriel so much she could kill him!
06-20-2009 03:50 PM
I wonder if it's not Ravenna's heartbreak and withdrawal that makes the house so cold. She cooks to escape - was how I interpreted it. They seem to have the money to enable her to cook to her heart's content and perhaps that is all she can do to tick away the hours.
I don't get her so much -- I am not very sympathetic to her situation as she seems to have accepted her husband's betrayal, enabled it actually and has accepted this life of extreme unhappiness for herself -- I don't get it and I don't respect it....sorry.
I was happy when Meridia split and got married....and was actually impressed when Ravenna stood up for her against her father.
06-28-2009 10:20 AM
I loved the symbolism some participants wrote about Ravenna's name. Ravenna's cooking acts can be acts of escape, I think, but not only escapes of her prisoner's life in negative feelings. As she is cooking the book describes that the excess of food will be donated to other people, and these ones are hungry ones. As she is dialoguing to vegetables, for example, I think she is talking, indirectly, to the ones outside the house as a form of freedom, the same to say: someone, not from here, will hear my curses and my words through this food. I'll feed them with my regretings and I won't be alone in this mission because like me they will share their loneliness and regretings and we won't be alone anymore.
Clearly, Meridia loves her mother and Ravenna loves her daughter as well. The first scene when midwife judges the baby as dead and Ravenna's hope is showed elicits that.