Reply
Author
ConnieAnnKirk
Posts: 5,472
Registered: ‎06-14-2007
0 Kudos

Chapter by Chapter: 1 - 6 (No Spoilers, Please!)

If you enjoy discussing a book as you read it, please feel free to post here about the plot no later than Chapter 6.  No spoilers, please!
~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
Author
ConnieAnnKirk
Posts: 5,472
Registered: ‎06-14-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Chapter by Chapter: 1 - 6 (No Spoilers, Please!)

I'm enjoying how disagreeable little Mary is in these opening chapters.  I like how, on the carriage ride, Burnett manages to show Mary is badly damaged but not yet hopeless.  There seems a glimmer of hope present, too, with Mary's tendency to work with plants and dirt.
~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
Frequent Contributor
niki
Posts: 187
Registered: ‎12-25-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapter by Chapter: 1

[ Edited ]
I have just started reading the book and I find that I am really drawn into the book with the first chapter. It is something that I did not expect at all. I'm not sure what I thought the book would be like -- kind of a stuffy Victorian-type children's story but it is not that at all. Mary is a wonderfully and unusually drawn character. Even though she is described in the most negative ways ("disagreeable" to put it mildly, ugly, sickly, nasty, and uncivilized), I have a great deal of admiration toward her. A beautiful mother in contrast to herself and totally unwanted and unloved. Often in these stories the rejected child at leasts finds some surrogate love from a Nanny or servant, but Mary doesn't have even that. No one in the world cares about her, no one even shows her the slightest amount of love. She is totally alone and abandoned and generally disliked by everyone. No one even knows she is there when they all flee the cholera epidemic. She is not fed, she does now even know what is happening, and she is totally (and now physically) abandoned.

I think most children in those situations would either become withdrawn or fearful or just scream all the time. But though she is "disagreeable" she is intelligent and highly adaptable. Often, even if abandoned by parents, a child seems to crave them or something like them. It seems inborn.

This situation reminded me a bit of an experiment done with monkeys sometime ago. Mammals, and especially primates, need some sort of warm contact, some sort of love. It is inherent in their nature. But Mary has none but yet she managed to insulate herself without total emotional withdrawal. I wonder how any of us would have fared under similar circumstances. Would we have her spunk to deal with the world as much on her terms as she did. As socially "disagreeable" as her behavior is, it is very adaptive. she has survived emotionally pretty well and I admire her.

The experiments I am referring to are those carried out by Harry Harlow. We need something cuddly to hold on to even if it is a "Teddy Bear".

Harry Harlow's Surrogate Mother experiments:
http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~adoption/studies/HarlowMLE.htm

Mary is a survivor and I think she will fare very well.

Message Edited by niki on 06-30-2008 03:27 PM
Author
ConnieAnnKirk
Posts: 5,472
Registered: ‎06-14-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Chapter by Chapter: 1

[ Edited ]
Thanks, niki.  I agree that she is an interesting character in Chapter 1.  Having just seen the Pixar movie, Wall.E, over the weekend, where a small plant plays an important role, I couldn't help thinking of that with Mary's efforts to gather dirt together and plant something in that first environment we find her in.  Hope springs eternal and all that...
 
~ConnieK




Message Edited by ConnieK on 07-02-2008 03:14 PM
~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
New User
Deetokitty
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎07-01-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Chapter by Chapter: 1

Forgive me for writing a downer, but regarding Niki's reference to the Harlow monkey experiments--this was a horrific time in psychology, when "experimenters" were allowed to abuse these tiny baby animals, poor little human-like primates to "prove" that children who do not have mothers, or are rejected by their mothers suffer incredibly. Do you really need to torture an animal to know this? We see it all the time in the real world of people. I am still amazed that I, a psych. major, was not horrified when I first learned about these experiments 40 years ago, I pray they are not still using them as examples of good psychology.

On a better note, anyone who likes The Secret Garden should try to get their hands on Julie Andrew's (yes, the actress)book, Mandy. It's a more updated version and wonderful. I immediately bought it in hardback after reading it years ago (after reading the Secret Garden). It may be out of print now, however; I never see it or hear anyone else referring to it.
Frequent Contributor
niki
Posts: 187
Registered: ‎12-25-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapter by Chapter: 1

I quite agree with you deetokitty -- it is a cruel thing to do to helpless little monkeys or children. The ironic thing is that Mary's mother probably never even thought about her behavior of Mary being cruel. I'm sure she satisfied herself that she was a "good" mother providing a home and some sort care for her daughter through the servants.

The book you mentioned is still available and looks delightful! She wrote it under the name Julie Andrews Edwards. There is an excerpt from it at:

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Mandy/Julie-Andrews-Edwards/e/9780061207075



Deetokitty wrote:
Forgive me for writing a downer, but regarding Niki's reference to the Harlow monkey experiments--this was a horrific time in psychology, when "experimenters" were allowed to abuse these tiny baby animals, poor little human-like primates to "prove" that children who do not have mothers, or are rejected by their mothers suffer incredibly. Do you really need to torture an animal to know this? We see it all the time in the real world of people. I am still amazed that I, a psych. major, was not horrified when I first learned about these experiments 40 years ago, I pray they are not still using them as examples of good psychology.

On a better note, anyone who likes The Secret Garden should try to get their hands on Julie Andrew's (yes, the actress)book, Mandy. It's a more updated version and wonderful. I immediately bought it in hardback after reading it years ago (after reading the Secret Garden). It may be out of print now, however; I never see it or hear anyone else referring to it.

Author
ConnieAnnKirk
Posts: 5,472
Registered: ‎06-14-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Chapter by Chapter: 1

Thanks, Deetokitty.  I actually didn't go to the monkey links (sorry, niki).  I agree that experimenters' lack of awareness of their cruelty toward animals back then mirrors Mary's mother and father to her in the book. 
 
~ConnieK 
 
 


Deetokitty wrote:
Forgive me for writing a downer, but regarding Niki's reference to the Harlow monkey experiments--this was a horrific time in psychology, when "experimenters" were allowed to abuse these tiny baby animals, poor little human-like primates to "prove" that children who do not have mothers, or are rejected by their mothers suffer incredibly. Do you really need to torture an animal to know this? We see it all the time in the real world of people. I am still amazed that I, a psych. major, was not horrified when I first learned about these experiments 40 years ago, I pray they are not still using them as examples of good psychology.

On a better note, anyone who likes The Secret Garden should try to get their hands on Julie Andrew's (yes, the actress)book, Mandy. It's a more updated version and wonderful. I immediately bought it in hardback after reading it years ago (after reading the Secret Garden). It may be out of print now, however; I never see it or hear anyone else referring to it.


~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
Wordsmith
kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapter by Chapter: 1



ConnieK wrote:
Thanks, Deetokitty.  I actually didn't go to the monkey links (sorry, niki).  I agree that experimenters' lack of awareness of their cruelty toward animals back then mirrors Mary's mother and father to her in the book. 
 
~ConnieK 
 
 


Deetokitty wrote:
Forgive me for writing a downer, but regarding Niki's reference to the Harlow monkey experiments--this was a horrific time in psychology, when "experimenters" were allowed to abuse these tiny baby animals, poor little human-like primates to "prove" that children who do not have mothers, or are rejected by their mothers suffer incredibly. Do you really need to torture an animal to know this? We see it all the time in the real world of people. I am still amazed that I, a psych. major, was not horrified when I first learned about these experiments 40 years ago, I pray they are not still using them as examples of good psychology.

On a better note, anyone who likes The Secret Garden should try to get their hands on Julie Andrew's (yes, the actress)book, Mandy. It's a more updated version and wonderful. I immediately bought it in hardback after reading it years ago (after reading the Secret Garden). It may be out of print now, however; I never see it or hear anyone else referring to it.




But you know, readers.  We can't turn back the clocks, now can we? There is always a struggle to find the truth and sometimes the soul gets over looked. We all do alot to learn about things we know little about. Like with the monkey experiments. I think this experiment did beneifit the mentally handicapped population. It helped set up programs to help those poor souls have happier lives because most of them had been hospitalized or instutionalized all their live or part  of it. And did not know love the known conventional way. Now of course, since we do know and the experiment helped us know, that showing love is so important that children with mental handicapps are not taken away from their families as before. They are encouraged to  stay in the home and services are provided for helping the family cope with this di sability. And also helps develop further knowledge for the handicap. Life is usually a sacrifice for someone. Someone is helped and someone is hurt.  Isn't that what the Christian believes.? That Jesus sacrificed his life for him or her. And the same with war. I do not believe in it, but the concept is the same. I am glad they donot use animals in experiments in this way anymore but I am glad I can reason with myself about the time they were sacrifice.d. They helped others have a better life and change life for others which is so surreal.
Frequent Contributor
niki
Posts: 187
Registered: ‎12-25-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapter by Chapter: 2

Moving onto chapter 2! I found this chapter particularly interesting because it is Mary's first contact with the real world, other people, and especially other children. She certainly is quick to adjust to things. The children find her behavior a bit difficult but I don't think they are exceptionally cruel to her even though she is quite odd. Mary for the first time starts to wonder about things. She never had any perspective to judge her own or anyone else's behavior before. I found some sentences very telling:

"She had begun to wonder why she had never seemed to belong to anyone even when her father and mother had been alive....she did not know she was disagreeable. She often thought that other people were, but she did not know that she was so herself."

Maybe ignorance is bliss and why she managed to come out of this relatively well adjusted.

She is moving into a similar situations where her uncle is a gloomy and isolated person who doesn't want to be bothered with her either. And Mrs. Medlock doesn't seem to be a candidate for a loving substitute mother. Still, Mary doesn't seem that concerned "'It doesn't matter,' said Mary, 'whether I care or not.'" I am finding Mary's adaptability amazing!
Contributor
Bayles
Posts: 18
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapter by Chapter: 1 - 6 (No Spoilers, Please!)

I must confess, I don't currently have a copy of the book.  However, I have read it many times.
 
It is interesting that Mary is the direct opposite of the the Little Princess.  Which do you think you are going to like best?
 
 
Wordsmith
kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapter by Chapter: 1 - 6 (No Spoilers, Please!)

I think Mary is very observant and figures out that this staff at her Uncle's house is not like the staff in India.
In other words, I do believe this is causing Mary to respect them more knowing that they probably will not stand by and be slapped in the face like her nanny in India. But too, I think Mary is relenting some in her tough exterior. Probably the exercise, brisk air and getting outside is really opening her mind and heart to some extent. This is a great book!
 
 
Frequent Contributor
niki
Posts: 187
Registered: ‎12-25-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapter by Chapter: 1 - 6 (No Spoilers, Please!)



Bayles wrote:
I must confess, I don't currently have a copy of the book. However, I have read it many times.
It is interesting that Mary is the direct opposite of the the Little Princess. Which do you think you are going to like best?





You can refresh your memory online:

http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/BurSecr.html
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapter by Chapter: 1 - 6 (No Spoilers, Please!)

Misslethwaite Manor is in Yorkshire, on the edge of the moors. Coincidentally, the Literature by Women board is discussing Agnes Grey this month, which is also set in Yorkshire, and on that board there have been a number of interesting links posted about the Yorkshire region which might be of interest to some here.

Go to here to check out those links. Particularly interesting to me were some of these Utube videos of Yorkshire scenery and villages. This is perhaps much like the landscape that Mary came to know.
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapter by Chapter: 1 - 6 (No Spoilers, Please!)

Gretchen Gerzina, in The Annotated Secret Garden contends that "the biggest influences on The Secret Garden were undoubtedly Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Wuthering Heights by her sister Emily."

I'm not seeing that quite this early in the book. It's true that as in Jane Eyre, Mary is an orphan sent to live with not very likable relatives, but orphans were a favorite motif of Victorian literature -- think David Copperfield, Bleak House, Vanity Fair, Oliver Twist, and on and on. Will there more parallels to be seen with JE as our reading progresses?
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Scribe
Laurel
Posts: 5,747
Registered: ‎10-29-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapter by Chapter: 1 - 6 (No Spoilers, Please!)

I think of Jane Eyre every time I read The Secret Garden. There's the setting, of course, and some of the same words, but the biggest similarity will call out to you when you get to the last part of the book.

Everyman wrote:
Gretchen Gerzina, in The Annotated Secret Garden contends that "the biggest influences on The Secret Garden were undoubtedly Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Wuthering Heights by her sister Emily."

I'm not seeing that quite this early in the book. It's true that as in Jane Eyre, Mary is an orphan sent to live with not very likable relatives, but orphans were a favorite motif of Victorian literature -- think David Copperfield, Bleak House, Vanity Fair, Oliver Twist, and on and on. Will there more parallels to be seen with JE as our reading progresses?


"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapter by Chapter: 1 - 6 (No Spoilers, Please!)

That was, of course, obvious to me too, but I didn't want even to hint at a spoiler in the Chapter 1-6 section.

Laurel wrote:
I think of Jane Eyre every time I read The Secret Garden. There's the setting, of course, and some of the same words, but the biggest similarity will call out to you when you get to the last part of the book.

Everyman wrote:
Gretchen Gerzina, in The Annotated Secret Garden contends that "the biggest influences on The Secret Garden were undoubtedly Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Wuthering Heights by her sister Emily."

I'm not seeing that quite this early in the book. It's true that as in Jane Eyre, Mary is an orphan sent to live with not very likable relatives, but orphans were a favorite motif of Victorian literature -- think David Copperfield, Bleak House, Vanity Fair, Oliver Twist, and on and on. Will there more parallels to be seen with JE as our reading progresses?





_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Contributor
bellsofireland
Posts: 21
Registered: ‎06-21-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Chapter by Chapter: 1 - 6 (No Spoilers, Please!)

I haven't read Jane Eyre yet, so I'm hoping the big similarity you guys will reveal in these threads isn't a major giveaway for that book. :smileyhappy:

The last time I read The Secret Garden was probably almost a year ago, but I've read it enough times that I just had to glance at the end of chapter 6 to make sure I don't accidentally post any spoilers.

First, I don't have a very high tolerance for scene description. (If two characters are walking in a forest, that's enough information for me. I don't need the trees, the path, the lighting, the sounds, etc. described to me in minute detail.) I've never put my finger on what exactly it is, but some writers are able to describe a setting in a way that keeps my attention, and Burnett is one of them. I really enjoy her imagery.

I also really like the fairy tale quality of the story. There is something kind of hazy and dreamlike about Mary's life in India, starting with the fact that she is "the child no one ever saw". Mary herself is the first "secret" in the book (more on that later). And then the scene with the empty dining room and the abandoned dinner, Mary drinking that glass of wine, the deep sleep that follows, and how changed her world is when she wakes up...not to mention the snake with its jeweled eyes...I loved how Burnett took a cholera epidemic and made it feel so mysterious.

I just had to delete my last sentence after realizing that it pertained to the entire book, so I better quit before I reveal any themes or something like that. Although I will say that India could have been portrayed better...it wasn't really fair to suggest that Mary was ill because she lived in India, seeming to blame the country rather than her parents. A Little Princess also has a setting in India, but in a much more pleasant light, so perhaps it was unintentional.
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all. ~Oscar Wilde
Author
ConnieAnnKirk
Posts: 5,472
Registered: ‎06-14-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Chapter by Chapter: 1 - 6 (No Spoilers, Please!)

Some people probably haven't read LP.  Not a factor here, but just a reminder, too, to be careful about spoilers.  Since you don't have the book in front of you, you might forget what happens when.
 
~ConnieK

Bayles wrote:
I must confess, I don't currently have a copy of the book.  However, I have read it many times.
 
It is interesting that Mary is the direct opposite of the the Little Princess.  Which do you think you are going to like best?
 
 



~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
Author
ConnieAnnKirk
Posts: 5,472
Registered: ‎06-14-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Chapter by Chapter: 1 - 6 (No Spoilers, Please!)

I can see that in the mystique of the moors--important in all 3.  But there may be more connections later on, too.
 
Thanks for the link, EM!
 
~ConnieK
 


Everyman wrote:
Gretchen Gerzina, in The Annotated Secret Garden contends that "the biggest influences on The Secret Garden were undoubtedly Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Wuthering Heights by her sister Emily."

I'm not seeing that quite this early in the book. It's true that as in Jane Eyre, Mary is an orphan sent to live with not very likable relatives, but orphans were a favorite motif of Victorian literature -- think David Copperfield, Bleak House, Vanity Fair, Oliver Twist, and on and on. Will there more parallels to be seen with JE as our reading progresses?


~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
Scribe
debbook
Posts: 1,823
Registered: ‎05-03-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Chapter by Chapter: 1 - 6 (No Spoilers, Please!)

I just started re-reading this book. I haven't read it in awhile, not since my teenage niece was a little girl. This book is so beautifully written, I don't know why so many only consider this a children's book. When I bought this book for my niece I told her to keep it forever as she will want to read it again when she is grown.
 
Anyway, I think the setting on the moors adds to the mystique of the book. I like how she is listening to the wind " wutherin".
A room without books is like a body without a soul.~ Cicero...
"bookmagic418.blogspot.com
Users Online
Currently online:59 members 424 guests
Please welcome our newest community members: