6. How are the characters shaped by the novel’s setting? What do the natural surroundings of the town mean to them? What separates those who want to escape from those who bask in the town’s familiarity?
Arthur, quiet and shy, slow witted and not good at book learning, took comfort in knowing everyone in the small town atmosphere and found contentment in working the farm. Jake was not suited to either. He was quick witted, easily bored, had an easy way with people and was good looking enough to get his way with girls. The small town and farming life made him feel penned in and trapped.
7. Take a look at the men's relationships with their mothers. As a pre-schooler, Arthur "already knew that his mother's happiness depended on Jake's well-being" (p. 28), while school-boy Jake "had great confidence in his mother's ability to win arguments on his behalf" (p. 36). Ian's opinion of his mother shortly before she left was that she "had two moods nowadays, absent or annoyed, and whichever one she was in he invariably found he preferred the other" (p. 13). What do these relationships look like to you?
All these relationships between mother and son leave much to be desired. I don't see anything even resembling a healthy Mother, son, relationship among them. How is it that we women raise these boys into men and so often cripple their future relationships with women?
9. Can you relate to any of the characters? In what way?
I can relate to Jake a bit in his not able to please his dad and really not understanding why his dad cannot appreciate his talents for what they are rather than what he wished they were. I had and still do have a lot of that with my mother. We are nothing alike in personality and to this day I am in often in trouble for something I said, or didn't say, or did or didn't do with no clue to what I did or why she is upset.