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Inspired Scribe
IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Tip and Teddy

Tip and Teddy, the 2 adopted black sons of Bernadette and Doyle, are marvelous literary creations. Within a couple of paragraphs in Chapter Two, Ann Patchett has captured their individual personalities.

Tip, the bright one, a senior at Harvard, is fascinated with fish.. since he was a young boy on the Cape during summer vacations. He chafes under his father's pressure, an ex-mayor of Boston, to follow him into a political career. He is humiliated with his father's derogatory remarks about his expensive education to learn about FISH. He already regrets agreeing to meet him for a command performance at political rally by Jesse Jackson.

Teddy is the sweet one, but not as academically bright as his older brother. He struggles with his studies at a local college (not Harvard); he is fond of his aging uncle, a priest, and hopes to follow him into the priesthood.

These two brothers are polar opposites of each other; yet their fondness for each other is clear. They are black orphans adopted by the very Irish Doyle. They were raised in a Brahmin Bostonian lifestyle near Boston's Back Bay; and educated in expensive private schools.

How have these boys surmounted what superficially could have been polar opposites in racial and cultural backgrounds?

Ann Patchett has created two young men who seem to have surpassed what could have been unsurmountable odds. As the story proceeds, we will see how well the boys cope with circumstances surrounding their adoption when they unexpectedly meet the birth-mother who gave them up.

IBIS
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
Reader 2
otisimo
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎01-04-2008
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Re: Tip and Teddy

I think what Patchett is re-exploring with this book and these characters in particular is the the old nature v. nurture debate. How much of Tip's love of fish, for instance, is inbred? How much of it is just because of privilege? Would he have ever been exposed to Ichthyology if Tennessee had raised him? In fact, this is the prevailing reason she gave him, the eldest, up: opportunity. Patchett raises lots of questions regarding race and class in this book. What about Sullivan, how does he deal with his opportunity (son of the mayor of Boston)compared to the adopted sons? Who deserves more? And where does Kenya, as Tennesse's daughter, fit into the picture? In a way, these questions relate to the statue's inheritance protocol. Just who will the stolen idol be passed on to?
Inspired Scribe
IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Re: Tip and Teddy

You bring up some fascinating points that I hadn't considered... the theme of nature vs nurture. It will be interesting to compare and contrast how the luxurious circumstances of Tip and Teddy's upbringing compare to the impoverished ones of Kenya, who stayed with their biological mother.

Will the impoverished circumstances of her young life shape her, or choke her potential?

So far, I'm amazed by her maturity-- how many 12-year olds, in the middle of a serious car accident, would be composed to look for their mother's purse and shoes in the middle of a snow storm?

IBIS
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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